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In an age when most people can’t afford to advance their education without some financial help, tuition assistance plans are one of the fastest-growing employee benefits being offered by employers. Today, one in three people in the workforce are considered Millennials. For those who are leaving college, roughly seven out of ten carry an average of $28,000 in student loan debt. EdAssist helps employers and employees on both sides of the equation by offering tuition reimbursement assistance and student loan repayment assistance platforms to employers.
Based in Watertown, Massachusetts, EdAssist has been offering plans and administration for successful tuition programs for more than 30 years. With more than 140 company clients across multiple industries, EdAssist is one of the largest tuition management companies in the country. More recently, EdAssist started offering a student loan repayment platform to assist employers in optimizing this growing employee benefit for workers carrying student loan debt.
EdAssist is owned by Bright Horizons, a leading provider of employee wellness solutions for employers who want to help their employees achieve a healthy work/life balance. Its programs include a full range of solutions, including employer-sponsored child care, dependent care for children and adults, and educational services for employees with school-aged children. EdAssist completes the work/life puzzle by offering tuition management and student loan assistance for employees and their children.
What Services Does EdAssist Offer?
EdAssist is a pioneer in tuition management services, helping employers install and manage tuition reimbursement benefit programs. EdAssist works directly with employers to optimize their benefit program. EdAssist’s platform features a robust online, company-branded management system providing employees with access to a wide range of comprehensive resources.
The website offers guidance on how to plan their advanced or continuing education (if you need financing, check out our guide on student loans for continuing education), offers a wide selection of certification programs and provides access to a network of more than 70 higher education institutions that offer flexible online courses and programs. The EdAssist tuition assistance platform is essentially a one-stop shop for employers who want to offer and effectively manage the benefit and for employees who can use the guidance to pursue their education.
EdAssist has joined the growing number of companies targeting employers who want to offer student loan assistance to their debt-laden employees. It offers a self-service management platform similar to its tuition reimbursement program that helps employers administer the benefit and track its effectiveness. EdAssist has earned accolades for its tuition management educational and advisory services, which they have expanded to include its loan assistance program. With EdAssist, employers can offer an end-to-end student loan assistance program that can help employees reduce their debt more quickly.
Who Are EdAssist’s Biggest Customers?
EdAssist has helped more than 140 companies funnel $400 million of tuition reimbursements to their employees. Among its biggest clients are PepsiCo, Sprint, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and several major medical centers.
Who is the Competition?
In the tuition management space, EdAssist is joined by EdLink, Scholarship America, and International Scholarship and Tuition Services as the leading providers. For its student loan assistance business, EdAssist goes up against Student Loan Genius, Gradifi, and Tuition.IO for top billing.
How Will New Tax Legislations Impact EdAssist?
Currently, most of EdAssist’s revenue is generated from its tuition management services. From a taxation standpoint, tuition reimbursement by employers has enjoyed a tax-favored status. Employees receive the reimbursement as a tax-free benefit and it is tax deductible to employers. That is part of the reason why employees find the benefit so appealing.
That is not the case with student loan assistance benefits, which are considered by the IRS to be a form of taxable compensation to employees and is not tax deductible to employers. That may be part of the reason why many employers are reluctant to offer student loan assistance plans.
However, new tax legislation was submitted in April 2017 that would provide student loan assistance benefits with the same tax treatment as any other qualified benefit, such as tuition reimbursement and employer matching contributions to 401(k) plans.
The Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act would allow up to $5,250 in yearly contributions from employers to pay towards employee student loans with a lifetime cap of $50,000. Although this type of legislation has been attempted several times before, this bill has broad bipartisan support. Should it be enacted, you can expect employers to sign on in droves and EdAssist would be a major beneficiary of this new growth market.
Author: Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®