Empower Retirement unveils student debt solution to help employees take action on repayment


Debt evaluation and loan refinancing options will help with employee decision-making

Loan contribution program allows employers to help pay down their employees’ debt

Empower Retirement is targeting the broad financial needs of American workers through a new student debt solution focused on both helping workers pay down debt and their employers who may want to help out.

The new solution, which will be launched later this year, will be offered to workers saving for retirement who also wish to pay down their student loan debt faster and improve their overall financial wellbeing.

Approximately 45 million Americans carry some form of student loan debt to pay for their own education, or for that of a family member1. In aggregate the total student loan debt is more than $1.5 trillion2 across the U.S. More than 80 percent of American workers paying down student loan debt say they put off other financial goals with 50 percent of them saying the top item they sacrifice is saving for retirement3.

“There’s no better investment than taking advantage of educational opportunities for yourself or your loved ones,” said Edmund F. Murphy, Empower Retirement President and CEO. “However, paying for that investment should not have to come at the expense of other financial goals. Working together with employers and plan advisors, Empower believes that we can help individuals take action to achieve better financial security through smarter debt management.”

To help make decisions around student loan repayments, Empower is partnering with CommonBond for BusinessTM – the enterprise student loan benefits platform from CommonBond, Inc., a leading financial technology company in the higher education space – in an effort to create an integrated retirement and debt management solution using technologies from both firms.

Empower Retirement will offer the integrated student debt management solution to its nine million customers.

The partnership is aimed at creating a one-stop digital platform that provides educational tools and financial guidance to help individuals better understand and manage their unique financial needs. The goal of the program is to help individuals pay down their student debt faster in order to be able to focus on other goals.

“Student loan debt is one of the key financial barriers to saving for retirement,” said David Klein, CommonBond CEO and co-founder. “Through our work with Empower, millions of people could have the ability to receive student loan benefits from their employer, improving their financial wellness and helping them save toward a brighter financial future.”

Employers — who are increasingly recognizing the value of benefit programs designed to help with student loan repayment 4 — can also benefit from the new Empower offering. Empower will offer a turnkey solution that enables employers to make direct payments to their employees’ student loans or to their retirement plans.

“Smart employers are recognizing the value of doing more for their employees through student loan contribution programs,” said Murphy. “We believe these programs are mutually beneficial to workers and their employers.”

Key features:

  • “Next dollar” evaluation: Employees who are carrying student loan debt have access to a user-friendly evaluation tool that provides guidance and recommends action steps. The system makes a recommendation on how individuals can utilize the ‘next dollar’ available.
  • Loan analysis: Depending on the student’s existing loan portfolio, CommonBond provides employees with individualized information about loan forgiveness programs and other options, such as refinancing.
  • Student loan or retirement plan contribution: Employers will have the ability to make payments directly to employees’ student loan payments or to their retirement savings plan.

The solution will be made available to all Empower retirement plans, pending plan sponsor agreement, as well as Individual Retirement Account customers.

  1. Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel / Equifax, June 14, 2017
  2. Federal Reserve, April 5, 2019 federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/HIST/cc_hist_memo_levels.html
  3. Harris poll on behalf of American Institute of CPAs, May 16, 2016
  4. The Employee Benefit Research Institute Dec. 6, 2018 brief.