4 Steps to Create a Healthy and Supportive Financial Culture in Your District
With nearly half of K12 workers feeling the burn of job-related stress, it’s clear that our educators and school staff are facing unprecedented challenges. A desire for higher salaries, limited resources, and high stress are pushing many to leave the profession, leading to a critical staff shortage across the nation. It’s crucial for school districts to act now. Increasing financial support and stability for teachers will improve staff retention and strengthen our schools.
One major source of financial stress for educators is the substantial student loan debt accumulated during their education. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers a glimmer of hope, promising to erase federal student loans after 120 qualifying payments for those employed full-time in government or non-profit roles. Despite its potential, many educators are missing out due to the program’s complexity and unclear eligibility requirements.
Simplifying access to PSLF can be a game changer, allowing educators to fully benefit from this financial lifeline.
After understanding the challenges our educators face, it's clear that proactive measures are needed. Here are five actionable steps you can take to create a healthy and supportive financial culture in your district:
Step 1: Acknowledging the financial strain on educators and staff
Educators face daily financial pressures contributing to stress and job dissatisfaction. From student loan debt to housing costs, your staff are facing financial burdens. These pressures can range from mortgage and car payments to daily living expenses, all of which play a part in the high turnover rates witnessed in schools. Recognizing and acknowledging these issues is the first step to alleviating these daily financial pressures.
A few things you can do now are:
- Generate awareness around programs like PSLF
- Learn for the benefit of your colleagues- it may not affect you, but it affects many
- Keep up with data on student debt and loan forgiveness
- Rally internal champions- success stories around PSLF will motivate and make others believe they can achieve the same
- Help your teachers take advantage of tax-free tools they are eligible for (HSA, 403 (B), pension)
Step 2: Addressing student loan debt through PSLF
Many educators enter the profession carrying the burden of substantial student loan debt, which can overshadow the initial years of their careers. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program presents an opportunity to alleviate this burden, offering loan forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments. However, the complexity of the program and its eligibility criteria have left it underutilized. School administrators are crucial in bridging this gap, providing clarity and support to help educators navigate and take full advantage of the PSLF program.
Check out our PSLF checklist to help your employees through the process!
Step 3: Investing in financial literacy
Financial literacy is a critical skill that can empower educators to navigate their financial world with confidence. By investing in programs that promote financial education, school districts play a crucial role in equipping their staff with the knowledge to make informed decisions. This goes beyond understanding budgets and extends to comprehending investment opportunities, insurance, and retirement planning.
Incorporating financial literacy workshops and resources into professional development can demystify complex financial topics, fostering a sense of control and stability among educators. When teachers have a solid grasp of financial principles, they are better positioned to manage their finances proactively, leading to reduced stress and increased job satisfaction.
Step 4: Provide financial coaching
Give your employees someone to ask questions like should I lease or buy a car? Or, how much money should I put into an HSA? Providing financial coaching and a financial wellness program can prevent major financial mistakes in the future. A financial wellness program also can be a significant asset in attracting and retaining quality educators. Recognizing the financial needs of educators vary based on their career stage is crucial. Tailoring support and solutions to these varying needs can prevent potential issues from becoming reasons for departure. For many educators, housing-related expenses are a major source of financial stress, making support in this area particularly impactful.
Engaging with specialized financial services, such as Your Money Line, can provide educators with the expert guidance needed to navigate challenges like PSLF, student debt, and general financial planning. This partnership equips school staff with the tools and support necessary to take control of their financial well-being, ultimately contributing to a healthier school community.
By Peter Dunn