The Chicago Tribune highlights student loan assistance

Peanut Butter client, Rise Interactive, spoke recently with Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz of the Chicago Tribune about why they decided to  launch a Student Loan Assistance program. Read what Nicole Skaluba, Rise’s Director of Employee Services, had to say in an excerpt from the article below or view the original version of the article here

‘As crushing student debt keeps young people from saving, employers are stepping up to ease the squeeze’

Rise Interactive, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency, started offering student loan repayment last year after employee surveys revealed that people didn’t like the 401(k) plan. When it dug deeper, the company found that the problem wasn’t the plan but that many of its 200 employees (who at the time were an average age of 28) couldn’t afford to participate in it, said Nicole Skaluba, director of employee services.

About a quarter of its employees now participate in the loan help program, which contributes $50 per month directly to their loans. Rise coordinates the payments through Peanut Butter, a Chicago-based tech company that manages the relationships with the loan holders so that Rise can avoid the paperwork and stay out of their employees’ private loan information, Skaluba said.

The benefit ties into the company’s “holistic” approach to financial wellness and engenders goodwill among employees, she said; when someone pays off their loan, Peanut Butter sends a celebration certificate and Rise recognizes the accomplishment at the company’s biweekly all-hands meeting.

It remains to be seen if the benefit reduces turnover among young employees, notorious for moving from job to job.

“In the longer term, I think it will bear better fruit on the retention side and the attraction side,” Skaluba said. “If they are considering two different companies, it may tip their decision-making our way as well.”

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz covers workplace issues for the Tribune’s business section. She previously covered retail, and before that was a lifestyles reporter on the Tribune’s features desk, writing about dating and relationships, health, home decor, food and travel. Prior to that she wrote features for RedEye. Elejalde-Ruiz also has worked at the Daily Herald, where she covered several suburban towns, and the City News Service, where she covered crime. She grew up in Washington, D.C., got her degree in international relations from Brown University, and encourages you to look up her 2013 story about going on a singles cruise, a highlight of her journalism career.

Want to hear more about the positive impact of Rise Interactive’s program? Click here