Five Ways to Ease Financial Stress Through College Counseling

solving financial stress for working parents with education counseling

It's no secret that money stresses people out. Financial stress significantly burdens about 60% of US employees, according to the latest research by State Street Global Advisors. Of course, these people don't leave their stress at the door when they go to work in the morning.

More than a third 37% of survey respondents acknowledged that financial stress negatively affected their productivity. 25% admitted to missing work due to stress about their personal financial situation.

So it's clear that since employers would benefit significantly from reductions in such stress, they should take a proactive approach to bringing financial wellness programs to their workforces.

Top Financial Stress: College

In looking into this subject, I came across the blog, 5 Ways to Help Our Employees Be Less Financially Stressed. I was struck that, though educational advising was not mentioned at all in the article, each of the author's five tips were easily adaptable to the college counseling sphere and very relevant to the work we provide at College Coach.

So, with inspiration from the aforementioned blog, here are my Five Ways to Ease Financial Stress Through College Counseling:

Provide [college] financial counseling

As a child's college education is likely the 2nd biggest investment an employee will make in his lifetime (after his home) and a tremendous source of financial stress, assistance to reduce college costs is crucial. Help applying for important elements - strategic borrowing, applying for (and negotiating) need-based, college-based, and private aid - can go a long way.

Assist with [college] planning

The earlier people begin to plan for college, the less stressed they'll be when the time comes to apply, enroll, and pay the bill. Programming for elementary and middle school parents reduces stress by ensuring children get on a positive academic path. Helping parents begin to save for college brings tangible progress to what otherwise feels like an overwhelming unknown. When high school arrives, assist the family with a balanced college list and the allocation of assets to maximize college aid eligibility.

Educate them on the [American Opportunity] Tax Credit

While simultaneously working to reduce employees' college costs, acknowledge that most will bear some out-of-pocket expense for their children's educations; then, help them to maximize their education tax breaks, the most valuable of which for most families is the American Opportunity Credit.

Make [children's] financial literacy a goal

Acknowledge that financial wellness is a family affair and that raising financially savvy children matters. A working parent's stress level is intimately tied to a child's success; the confidence that children will have the ability to make smart financial decisions is an enormous relief.

Help them achieve [successful student loan repayment]

Student loan debt affects every level of your workforce, from your entry-level millennials who recently graduated college to your most seasoned leadership who've borrowed for their own graduate school or their children's or grandchildren's educations. Make sure all of your employees are on a path toward successful borrowing: keep them informed of all their repayment plan and consolidation options, and providing them with effective money-saving repayment strategies.

The above five steps may initially seem like a burden, but the payback is enormous. But there are good reasons to address employee financial stress. Financial wellness benefits help employees tremendously in terms of reduced stress, while having huge financial dividends for employers in terms of employee recruitment, increased productivity and loyalty, and reduced absenteeism and turnover.  

Join Bright Horizons June 11 at 12 p.m. ET for the webinar, Employee Financial Wellness: How to Help Solve the $1 Trillion student Loan Debt Problem. Register now for this 30-minute webinar on how employees are struggling with financial wellness; why employers are concerned; and what innovative workplace solutions Bright Horizons and Neuberger Bergman are utilizing to address the problem, achieve results, and gain recognition as employers of choice.

Written by: Shannon Vasconcelos

About the Author

Shannon works with Bright Horizons Education & College Advising corporate clients to deliver college financing workshops and provide personalized counseling to employees. She has over 10 years of experience in student financial assistance, at Boston University and Tufts University, and has also served as an active member of MASFAA’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for DOE’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts.