How Student Loan Debt Can Affect Your 401K

May 14, 2018 Posted by kingcade

Student loans and retirement planning may not seem like two things that would affect each other. Usually, the first thought after graduating is to get a job to start paying back student loan debt. However, student loan debt has become an increasing problem when it comes to saving and planning for retirement.

More and more students are graduating with student loan debt today.  And for those starting their careers fresh out of college, many are finding it hard to save for retirement along with meeting their monthly obligations, the biggest of these being student loan payments.

New research shows that families age 45 to 54 with zero student loan debt have an average 401(k) balance of $80,000. Take that same age demographic and add the issue of student loans, and the median balance for their 401(k) drops to $46,000. Families who have heads of household younger than 35 with student loans carry a median 401(k) balance of $8,000.

Some companies are helping their employees with student loan debt. In January 2016, Fidelity launched a program to help their own customer service associates pay up to $2,000 of student loan debt annually, with a lifetime maximum of $10,000. Fidelity employees responded well to the program with 8,400 employees taking advantage of it, the majority of them being in the younger demographic.

Another company, Gradfi, a fintech company, started a student loan repayment program, offering this service to 100 employers in 2016. Gradfi is now working with 350 companies across the United States, including Peloton and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Employers can use these programs to draw in key hires, but also work on retaining employees once they are hired.

One downside to these student loan repayment programs, however, is the fact that these employer payments must be considered as taxable income to employees.

For the time being, it is advisable to factor in both payments on student loan debt and contributions to retirement savings. Every bit helps and making those smaller contributions today will build up to larger contributions over time as student loan debt decreases. Take advantage of employer-matched money when making these contributions, and speak with your financial advisor to see how much you can contribute comfortably.

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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.