Student debt relief is a high priority for Weedmaps

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WM Holding Company, a technology and software platform that services the cannabis industry, has partnered with student loan benefit provider Goodly to offer its 400 employees assistance in paying down their college debt.

WM operates through two main businesses — Weedmaps, an online marketplace for cannabis consumers, and WM Business, a software subscription service for cannabis retailers and brands.

“Alleviating some of the burden associated with student loan repayment is a tangible and highly attractive benefit we’re able to offer current and prospective employees,” says Steven Jung, chief operating officer at Weedmaps. “As our organization grows and as we look to recruit a highly qualified and diverse workforce, it’s necessary that our benefit offerings are competitive.”

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WM will pay $1,000 per employee per year toward either a student loan or 529 savings plan, which will be paid in monthly installments of $83.33 per employee per month.

The first employer contribution was made in January, according to Goodly CEO Greg Poulin. Sixty employees have already signed up, with more onboarding.

“Employer contributions have the average employee on track to become debt free 20% to 25% faster than they otherwise would on their own, demonstrating the tremendous impact of employer-sponsored student loan repayment,” Poulin says.

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Student loan debt in the U.S. hit $1.56 trillion in 2020, according to the Federal Reserve, with 45 million borrowers afflicted with this burden. Despite the impact, employers have been slow to offer benefits that help employees toward financial freedom: just 8% of employers offer a student debt relief benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

However, student loan benefits can play a huge role in employee satisfaction and performance. Offering a student debt repayment benefit can reduce employee stress and turnover, according to Employee Benefit News contributor Sharla St. Rose. Student debt can have a significant impact on an employee’s mental health: 53% of high debt student loan borrowers have experienced depression because of their debt, according to Student Loan Planner, a financial advice resources provider.

Weedmaps didn’t wait to hear from employees that they were struggling with student debt. Instead, the employer proactively pursued the benefit in order to provide staff with support before it became a crisis.

“We implemented not only a student loan benefit, but also an option for a 529 education savings, whether an employee wants to save to further their education or start saving money for their children’s future education,” Jung says.

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