Namely partnership offers employers college prep benefit

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HR platform Namely is offering its 1,300 corporate clients a new education planning benefit by teaming up with MyKlovr, a growing virtual counselor for college-bound students.

Employers using Namely’s brokerage services in order to manage their employee benefits will now be able to offer MyKlovr’s virtual college counseling services to their employees.

The service allows students and parents to gain personalized, step-by-step guidance on college admissions, the planning process, and financial preparation. The benefit will be offered post-tax on a voluntary basis and will be paid for through payroll deductions.

“Part of the reason why the college debt crisis is as large as it is can be attributed to the lack of information,” says Vin DiDonna, director of benefits consulting at Namely. “By using artificial intelligence and proprietary algorithms, companies like MyKlovr are arming families like never before to make an educated decision that can essentially prevent a student from being forced to attend a school which will leave him or her in a massive amount of debt.”

CEO Gustavo Dolfino started MyKlovr in 2016, his feeling was that the kind of specialized guidance families need to navigate the college admissions process was only accessible to the wealthy. He wanted to create a platform where anyone could get the help they needed.

“We raised money and decided to create algorithms which are based on artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and machine learning that will fulfill the role of a councilor in a virtual way and would be more specific to each individual based on his or her EQ (emotional intelligence) and IQ,” Dolfino says.

After a little time went by, the MyKlovr team realized their services would make for a useful and unique employee benefit. The company signs up benefits distributors to get their product into the hands of employees. Namely was signed up as a professional employer organization and Benefitfocus, an online benefits enrollment software provider, signed up as a marketplace as did several other benefits brokers.

The program is web-based and works by asking each student a series of questions and then determines what each individual needs to do to reach their goals. For example, if a student wants to attend Harvard the algorithm will determine specific steps the person must take to give them better odds to make that happen. While two students may have the same goal, they will not necessarily need to take the same steps to get there, Dolfino says.

The program also offers financial guidance, which can be useful in an era where student loan debt has become a $1.5 trillion problem, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Indeed, it has become such a burden that younger employees struggling with student loans are prioritizing repayment over retirement savings, unaware they are hurting themselves in the long run.

Benefits like what Namely and MyKlovr are offering may not be able to help the current generation of workers beset with student debt tackle the issue, but it may help future generations avoid the problem altogether by providing greater education on the subject much earlier in the process.

Employees generally are more willing to stay with an employer that offers them services for greater financial security, which has sparked various companies to implement more creative benefits to attract talent. Employers including Staples, Aetna, Live Nation, Penguin Random House and PricewaterhouseCoopers all offer their employees a student loan benefit program.

See also: PwC’s student loan benefit price tag: $25 million and counting

About 60% of graduates have student loan debt with the average balance being $27,975, according to data from LendEDU — a website for comparing and learning about different financial products.

“Under this current climate, having a student loan repayment benefit can be what gets your company the top candidate instead of a competitor,” says Mike Brown, a research analyst at LendEDU. “Further, contributing toward paying down your employee's student loan debt can keep him or her happy, which in turn should increase productivity.”

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