Federal student loan repayment resumes this fall. And after more than three years without payments (which average nearly $400 per month), it’s no secret that this transition will be challenging for the majority of the 43 million Americans who carry student debt.

But what exactly are those challenges?  Here’s what we learned when we asked borrowers to share their thoughts on the return to repayment:

Most borrowers’ household budgets will take a hit.

The sweeping majority of respondents said the return to repayment will impact their household’s day-to-day spending. Many added that their student loan bills will exacerbate the ongoing strain of inflation, with some sharing that they plan to get a second job or make lifestyle changes to make ends meet. 

Long-term financial wellbeing is at stake, too. 

Many expressed concerns about the far-reaching consequences of falling behind on their student loan bills, or creating a domino effect by racking up high-interest credit card debt to make ends meet. Even more shared that their savings goals will be stifled, with many respondents planning to cut back on — or altogether eliminate — retirement contributions in order to free up cash for their student loan payments. 

Borrowers are worried about much more than their finances.

Considering that 2 in 3 US workers already live paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s no surprise that many respondents shared fears that the return to repayment could have devastating consequences for their overall wellbeing — and even push some into crisis. 

It goes without saying: borrowers need help now.

All of the concern and confusion conveyed in these responses makes it clear: borrowers need help, and they need help now. 

At Candidly, we’ve built the resources and services borrowers need to take on the return to repayment with confidence. For example, our self-guided repayment optimization tools simplify and streamline the process of selecting and enrolling in a federal income-driven repayment (IDR) plan; these programs make monthly payments more affordable by capping bills at a manageable percentage of a borrower’s discretionary income and forgive remaining debt after a certain number of years of repayment. Included in the IDR plans covered by our solution is the all-new SAVE plan, which, compared to other IDR plans, cuts monthly payments in half and forgives remaining debt up to 15 years faster. 

Why should employers take action?

The return to repayment isn’t just bad for borrowers — it’s bad for business, too. 

Why? Employees don’t stop thinking about their student debt just because they’re on the clock. Without intervention, the financial stress brought on by student loan bills will send engagement and productivity into a tailspin, and turnover rates will spike as cash-strapped workers are lured away by offers of even modest pay increases.

That’s exactly why employers are the ideal stakeholder to provide the help borrowers so urgently need. By offering benefits that equip employees with solutions and strategies for smarter student loan payoff, employers can create meaningful impact for their workforce and reverse the negative business outcomes caused by employees’ student debt.

How Candidly can help

Candidly is ready to help employers meet this moment. 

We can help you design and implement a benefit program that delivers immediate results while getting employees on track for sustainable, long-term financial resilience. Our core, self-guided platform capabilities pair with configurable, premium offerings including:

  • Employer-sponsored student loan repayment contributions, which offer direct support to employees with student debt
  • SECURE Act 2.0-friendly student loan retirement matching, which helps employees stay on track for retirement security while simultaneously paying off college debt
  • One-on-one coaching services, through which employees can meet with a certified student loan expert for personalized guidance
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness tools, which empowers eligible organizations to automate and streamline their PSLF application and review process
  • Emergency savings offerings, which helps employees build a financial safety net with options for self-guided, gamified savings and automated employer contributions

Note: Some quotes have been edited for length and/or clarity.