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College Hall on Aug. 16, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn is partnering with a financial wellness institution to help its employees with student loan debt amid a wider debate in the United States over student loan debt forgiveness.

Penn announced last Friday that has initiated a partnership with PeopleJoy — a financial wellness benefits organization — based in Philadelphia to provide employees with free consulting and financial help to take charge of their student loan debt, according to Penn Today. This announcement comes amid a national debate over whether student loan debt should be forgiven by the government.

PeopleJoy can help Penn employees determine their eligibility for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program spearheaded by the Biden administration. Their services include program assessments, which cater the federal repayment program to an individual’s financial situation, and aiding in program enrollment. It also includes goal-based coaching and college financial planning, according to Penn Today.

Information seminars for PeopleJoy are being held between noon and 1 p.m. on Oct. 20, Nov. 16, and Dec. 15 for Penn employees to seek out more information and see if they qualify for the loan forgiveness program.

Elena McClelland, the director of Penn's human resources programs, told Penn Today that PeopleJoy has already helped borrowers receive approximately $3 million of loan forgiveness in 2022.

“PeopleJoy is a minority-owned, Philadelphia-based company,” McClelland told Penn Today. “Since 2016, PeopleJoy has partnered with dozens of employers, including Penn Medicine and CHOP, to assist thousands of employees with qualifying for PSLF."

This move coincides with a larger debate about how to address mounting student debt in the U.S. In the past, Biden has expressed hesitation to cover large amounts of student debt owed by students at elite universities like Penn.

According to the Department of Education’s College Scoreboard, students from elite and highly selective colleges and graduate programs held 12% of all student debt, yet only made up four percent of all student borrowers. In contrast, students at nonselective schools, shorter programs, and for-profit institutions owed 24% of all student debt in that time period, while accounting for 40% of all borrowers.

The Biden administration has assigned loan relief based on students' economic circumstances and how and where they accumulated their loans, with a priority on low- and middle-income borrowers.