Tackling student debt? Congress and businesses should join forces

Tackling student debt? Congress and businesses could join forces

Posted By Greater Austin Chamber | Oct 25, 2017
Education and Talent, Public Policy Print Article Tackling student debt? Congress and businesses should join forces

Austin Chamber coalition urges lawmakers to consider tax credits to help employees with student loans

As the U.S. Congress considers tax reform, one more bill may be closer to fruition for employees saddled with student loan debt.

House Bill 795, also known as the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act, will allow companies to pay up to $5,250 towards their employees’ student loans. Any employer—small business, nonprofit, or large corporation—would be able to use the tax free benefit.

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and its coalition urged Congress to consider the legislation in any upcoming tax package while advocating in Washington, DC earlier this year.

The Central Texas region is home to nearly 178,000 students enrolled in academic institutions such as The University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, and Austin Community College. Austin is also ranked as the number one region to start and grow a technology or innovative based business. For employers, having access to a highly educated talent pool is a necessity. But for job seekers, the need for post secondary education (and its surmounting debt) is increasing. According to MarketWatch, the current student debt amount is rising at a rate of $2,671.50 per second or $1.4 trillion.

In the Central Texas region alone, the average student loan debt was $27,324 for the graduating class of 2015. If Congress decides to implement smart policy such as House Bill 795, it will not only help employers retain talent but invest in the working success and quality of life of our residents. Nearly 63 percent of unemployed wage claimants in Austin have less than an associate’s degree even though the region has 39,100 open jobs.

Employer assistance through student loans helps with not only talent retention efforts, but could also boost local talent into high-demand programs that deepen our talent pool.

For more information on the Chamber’s policy efforts, click here or sign up for our newsletters here.

Greater Austin Chamber

The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.