Student Loans or Retirement Savings? Now Workers Won't Have to Choose

Part of a series  |  SECURE 2.0 Act Insights

decorative image: SECURE 2.0 plan can help with student loans

Saving for retirement is challenging for many cash-strapped Americans. But it can be even harder for those paying off student loans. SECURE 2.0 is empowering employers to support their employees in eliminating debt and saving for the future. </p>

Student loan debt in the United States totals an astounding $1.757 trillion. Unsurprisingly, younger workers often struggle to choose between paying student loans or saving for retirement. But beginning in 2024, the SECURE 2.0 Act will give them an opportunity to do both — with the help of their employer.

Under the legislation, employers will soon have the option to match student loan payments as contributions made to a qualified retirement plan.

Paying back while paying forward

For qualified student loan payments that an employee makes, employers may make a matching contribution to the employee's 401(k) plan based on the amount of the loan payment. According to IRS guidelines, a qualified student loan is for an individual, their spouse or dependent that was taken out to cover higher education costs during an academic period — like tuition, books, fees or other expenses. (Loans used to pay for room and board and non-credit courses are not applicable.) This new benefit allows employees to continue paying down student loans and take advantage of an employer's matching contributions at the same time.

Through employer contributions, employees will benefit from the following:

  • Reduced student loan debt while boosting retirement savings
  • A retirement savings increase (even when they're not able to make contributions)
  • Compound interest as their 401(k) account grows

Plus, employers get a tax benefit for their matching contributions.

Employee financial wellness matters to your business

New research has found that 76% of stressed employees say financial worries have negatively impacted their productivity. And that can lead to a measurable impact on your bottom line. But once this provision becomes effective, millions of student loan holders who have not been able to save for retirement can finally start building their nest eggs — and relieving some of those financial concerns.

That can only happen if you're offering a qualified retirement plan to your employees. For guidance in choosing the right plan for your business, connect with an ADP retirement specialist or call 1-800-432-401K.

The SECURE 2.0 Act has 90+ provisions — need help keeping up? Here's your Complete Guide to the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022

ADP, Inc., and its affiliates do not offer investment, tax, or legal advice to individuals. Nothing contained in this article is intended to be, nor should be construed as, particularized advice or a recommendation or suggestion that you take or not take a particular action. Questions about how laws, regulations, guidance, your plan's provisions, or services available to participants may apply to you should be directed to your plan administrator or legal, tax or financial advisor.