FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Learn more about Peanut Butter Student Loan Assistance

About Us
Why is the company called Peanut Butter?

For a lot of people, peanut butter is the only thing they can afford to eat in college.

It’s our honor to pay homage to the hard work and sacrifice that many endured to earn their degree and become qualified for great jobs with our clients.

What did you eat in college?

General
What is Student Loan Assistance?


Student Loan Assistance is the #1 benefit preferred by college-educated talent. It helps employers achieve their talent acquisition and retention goals by:

  • providing employees with online resources to manage their student debt, and
  • providing employers with a convenient way to make monthly contributions to the employees’ student loans.
Why are employers choosing to offer Student Loan Assistance?

Employers are choosing to offer Student Loan Assistance in order to attract, retain, and engage a diverse set of the most ambitious and well-trained workers in the world. Learn more here.

 

What other employers offer student loan assistance?

 

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported that 8% of US employers offer Student Loan Repayment in 2019, up 100% year over year. EBRI recently reported that nearly 1/3 of US employers offer some form of Student Loan Assistance, like Student Loan Resources, or have plans to do so. See the stats here.

Peanut Butter is proud to partner employers across the United States, including many in these industries.

Process
How does Peanut Butter administer a Student Loan Assistance program?


Peanut Butter helps employers set up their Student Loan Assistance program, then provides end-to-end administration of the benefit. Depending on which solution you choose to offer, we work with you to roll out an effective & easy-to-use program.

How much does Peanut Butter cost?


Employers can choose to offer company-wide access to Student Loan Resources right away for a flat annual fee. We then help you determine the prevalance of student debt in your organization and eligibility criteria for a Student Loan Repayment plan. 

Once the organization is ready to roll out Student Loan Repayment with employer-sponsored contributions, there is just a small per participant per month fee for those who choose to receive contributions.

To learn more, check out our Pricing page.

What are the employer’s responsibilities?


The main responsibility is to assign a Payroll Administrator or HR Generalist to spend 20 minutes at the beginning of each month administering their Student Loan Assistance program by inviting new hires, suspending terminated employees, and aligning payroll.

We support all of the tactical aspects of set up and roll out, and provide internal and external communication templates to your organization to help you maximize the return of investment. 

What should employers keep in mind when designing their plans?


According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these are the key things to consider with your program:

  • Start Slow and Grow — start your program with smaller repayment amounts, and then increase the benefit as it suits the needs of your organization
  • Keep it Simple — make eligibility simple without special qualifications or requirements
  • Have Shared Accountability — make employees accountable for their monthly contributions while you help them get out of debt faster with employer contributions.
Is there anything specific to know when selecting a program?


Let us help you estimate the amount of student debt held by employees within your industry and/or organization. From there, we can advise on the type of plan, eligiblity criteria and contribution amount that will have the most impact for your employees and provide the greatest return for your organization.

Contribution
How much do employers typically contribute, or what are common contribution amounts?


The most common company contribution is $50 per participant per month. Many employers will initiate their plans here, with the goal of increasing to $100 per month in the second plan year.

When an employer contributes $100 per month, the average employee will get out of debt in 7 years instead of 10 and save more than $11,000 in principal and interest.

Recently, several employers have seen success initiating their programs at $30 per participant per month, marketed as ‘a dollar a day toward your student loans’.

Is there an end to monthly contributions (by time, date, amount)?


No, unless the employee’s loans is paid off through your program, or if your company implements a lifetime maximum amout. 

Should I offer gradually increasing payments (e.g., $50/mo during year 1, $100/mo year 2)?


You can offer and design your repayment plan to have tiers at any time. However, the most successful plans start simple at a flat dollar amount. 

A modest contribution can make a noticeable difference in achieving hiring and retention goals. It also minimizes the company’s financial risk while you assess how many employees will elect to participate in the benefit. 

How are employer contributions taxed?


Employer-sponsored student loan repayment contributions are tax deductible. 

To learn more, read the blog article “How exactly are taxes treated for student loan repayment?”

Can companies offer employees the option to receive either 401(k) contributions or Student Loan Assistance?


No, because ERISA laws will not currently allow employers to make 401(k) participation or contributions contingent on action or inaction.

Learn more by reading our blog article “Three Things to Consider If Attempting to Tie Student Loan Repayment and a Company 401(K)“. 

Eligibility
How do companies typically determine eligibility?

Most employers choose to offer Student Loan Assistance to all benefit-eligible employees. This is based upon precedents from other benefit programs.

However, employers do have the option to offer Student Loan Assistance to a subset of employees and not to other employees as the benefit is not subject to ERISA.

Will employees without student loans think this is unfair?

No, they will not. As a benefit, this will not apply towards everyone in the organization, so like other benefits, certain employees will need it and others may not.
What eligibility criteria can be used?


Eligibility criteria can be any that is determined by law, and can be offered to all eligible employees or some eligible employees.

If an intern worked at our company and then was rehired at a later date, are they eligible?


This depends on if you want to deem the intern eligible per your benefit plan rules. If your plan is set up to allow this type of scenario, the intern would be eligible to receive student loan assistance.

Are employee spouses eligible to participate?


No, your employee must be listed as the primary borrower on the student loan. Read our blog article “This Is Why Your Employee Should Always Be the Borrower When You Offer Student Loan Repayment” to understand more.

Participation
Who is likely to participate?

Employees with student loans are likely to participate and employees without student loans are likely to decline coverage. This is similar to other benefits.
How many of my employees have student loans?


This is truly dependent on your company demographics and the field of work you are in. 

We can help you determine student loan prevalence within your company. Contact us to learn more.

Should employees sign a commitment agreement (e.g., I’ll stay for so long or pay it back)?

There is not normally a need for this, unless your company deems this necessary.
What do employees agree to do as participants in the program?

  • Be the borrower on the loan
  • Meet eligibility criteria
  • Make their minimum monthly student loan payment per the loan terms they initially agreed to with the borrower and loan servicer
Loan Qualification
Do Parent Plus loans qualify?


Yes, if the employer-sponsored plan chooses to allow these under the rules of their program. Additionally, as long as the loan is in good standing and shows the employee as the primary borrower, then it is eligible. 

What if I’m a co-signer?


The loan must list the employee as the primary borrower. Co-signers are not eligible.  Read our blog article “This Is Why Your Employee Should Always Be the Borrower When You Offer Student Loan Repayment” to learn more.

Do non-U.S. student loans qualify?


As long as the loan shows the employee as the primary borrower on the loan and it is in good standing, it is eligible to be considered. To qualify, it must fit into the eligiblity criteria set forth by the company. 

Can an employee enroll with private loans, auto loans or credit card loans?


No, any loan that is not a student loan is not eligible for this benefit.

Implementation
Can I start offering this today? What is the implementation timeline?


Should we conduct enrollment at the same time as our health plan enrollment?


It is often better to roll out this benefit separately, however, it is posible to roll out at any time.

How do I know the eligible employee is making their monthly payment?


Employees agree to the terms of use, stipulating they are continuing to make their monthly minimum payments per their original agreement with the lender and loan servicer.

How are my company's funds sent to loan servicers?


We use bank-level security to collect aggregate contributions from the employer each month and emit those funds directly to the loan servicer(s). The collection and remittance is done in concert with our CIBC Treasury.

Are payments applied to my employee's principal balance?


Employer-sponsored contributions are applied according to the terms of the employee’s loan agreement with the lender and/or loan servicer. We also provide guidance to employees in their account on ways to communicate with their loan servicer and request excess payments be applied to principal when possible.

Do you integrate with payroll?


In some cases, we do. For example, standard integrations are offered through ADP if requested.

Most employers that offer this benefit do not require a payroll integration. Monthly administration of the program takes most employers a half an hour or less. 

Should we process employee payments via payroll?


We recommend against this as it adds unnecessary risk and financial liability for the employer. When payroll only reflects the employer-sponsored contribution, it holds the employee accountable for making their monthly payment.

Still need help? Get in touch.