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Idea Fair

Student Loan Repayment Program

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

In 2013, the membership at Carmel County Club established an independent 501(c)(3) –the Carmel Employee Assistance Fund-- to provide academic scholarships for employees and their dependents. Since its inception, the Fund has awarded 63 scholarships totaling over $220K. Given the membership’s continued generosity and the fundraising successes garnered from the 47 Charitee Concerts and Golf Tournaments, the Fund has grown to include a financial relief component in cases of natural disaster, life threatening illness or injury, death, catastrophic circumstances, and military deployment.

In 2019, a third program was instituted to provide annual grants to employees struggling under the burden of student loan debt. The program benefits are three-fold. First, the Fund is able to award a new group of employees who, in many cases, have finished their degree and are pursuing a career in the industry. Secondly, the Club itself can attract and retain talented workers. Finally, the recipients can pay a lump sum toward their loan, decreasing their principal, or stagger distributions and decrease monthly payments.

How was this idea implemented, and what have been the club members' reactions?

In order to be eligible for the student loan reduction program, employees must submit a completed application and the debt must be made held with a qualifying lending institution. Should the employee meet the eligibility requirements (a minimum of one year of service and in good standing), he or she will be awarded. The Employee Assistance Fund Board reviews all applications (alongside Human Resources) to confirm accuracy and then splits a predetermined sum between all applicants. In 2019, all seven applicants were awarded $1,000. In 2020, a lump sum of $20,000 was divided amongst eight applications who all received $2,500. Applicants are notified of their award and asked to submit their student id number and preferred method of payment—lump sum or monthly distributions. All payments are made directly from the Employee Assistance Fund to the lending institution.

Employees have been overjoyed by this latest program. Many have expressed appreciation to the Board through thank you notes and in person. Some recipients have called It “a lifesaver” especially during this pandemic when money can be tight. Others stated that it allowed them to achieve their financial goals sooner than expected. Overall, the staff at Carmel continue to be humbled by the generosity of the members and are all the more motivated to deliver exceptional service.

About the author

Diane Willi

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