In 2010, Carmel Clay Schools were determined to create a wellness culture within their district. In 2013, they began intentionally offering benefits to their employees to address their physical, emotional, and social health but knew something was missing. Roger McMichael, associate superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools, recognized the stress finances caused his staff.
Carmel Clay, a public school district in Carmel, Indiana, is one of the largest in the country, with 2,400 staff and around 16,500 students. In the past, Carmel Clay provided workshops here and there about retirement, but they didn’t address any significant financial issues their staff could be dealing with, such as preparing for retirement, student loans, credit card debt, buying a house for the first time, etc.
Across the country, K12 institutions face various challenges, from attracting and retaining employees to crushing student loan debt among staff. The average teacher in the US has $58,700 in student debt, and Carmel Clay staff were not immune. McMichael knew something had to be done. Carmel Clay’s mission is to help their employees lead a productive life, and to do that, they needed to address all aspects of wellness, which meant finding a way to support their staff’s financial wellbeing.
McMichael decided to bring on Your Money Line (YML) in 2020 as an employee benefit for all staff in the district. He describes this as the “fourth prong of wellbeing, in addition to physical, emotional, and social.” McMichael wanted to offer his staff everything from assistance with student loan forgiveness to buying a house for the first time, and that’s what he did. “We knew our efforts would lack if we didn’t offer support for financial health and wellbeing.”
Plus, McMichael knew Peter Dunn, CEO of Your Money Line (aka Pete the Planner®), had a reputation throughout the Midwest for helping people improve their financial stability and confidence. This sealed the deal to bring on Your Money Line.
YML is available to everyone who works at Carmel Clay School district, from certified to classified staff. Becky Thornbury, in the human resources department, explained that this benefit is available to anyone who works over 4 hours a day for the school district.
One of the biggest challenges school staff face, from educators to bus drivers, is the burden of student loans. Moreso, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, although an amazing program to forgive student loans, is a complicated and daunting process.
“This past year, there’s been over a million dollars of student loan debt forgiveness for my employees with the assistance of Your Money Line. This is one of the most positive employee relation initiatives I’ve ever been involved with.”
Roger McMichael, Associate Superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools
For two Carmel Clay employees, having access to a benefit with financial experts in the PSLF process was a weight off their shoulders.
With student loans comes anxiety, stress, and looming thoughts in the back of your mind. For Chef Nick Carter, a Culinary Arts teacher at Carmel Clay, that is precisely how he felt. When he heard about Your Money Line, he felt immediate relief because he knew there were people out there to assist him in the application process for PSLF. He gave a YML Financial Guide a call and was pleased with his interaction because, for the first time, no one tried to sell him anything; they were just there to listen and help. “In a couple of months, I got a follow-up email from my Financial Guide just checking in to see how I was doing. No hounding, no pressuring. It was really refreshing compared to some things that you experience in the world,” said Nick.
Nick has submitted his PSLF application and is awaiting the forgiveness of his student loans. He expects $27,000 in student loans to be forgiven. “It was a great experience, and it’s nice to know that we have that tool because your money can be a scary thing. They know more than I do, and it doesn’t take much to make a phone call,” said Nick.
Fred Napier, a member of the maintenance department, also faces the burden of student loans and has gone through the PSLF program. Fred anticipates $110,000 to be forgiven thanks to the guidance of Your Money Line. In response to his interaction with a YML Financial Guide, Fred said, “she helped me tremendously, and it was a great experience.”
Fred knew he wanted someone to support him and have his back regarding the PSLF process because, like Nick, he knew it would be complicated. “I’m glad I reached out. Working with the forms and government entities can be daunting sometimes. You can feel alone, like no one is there to help you do that. When I had that support, it made me feel confident when I sent them in, and it made me know it was going to be okay.”
“Convenient. Easy. Friendly." - YML participant
“Fast. Efficient. Timely." - YML participant
“It’s so easy for them to use.” - Becky Thornbury, Human Resources Department
McMichael and Carmel Clay are pleased about the value they’ve received from their partnership with Your Money Line. “It’s not a matter of how much it costs us. It’s a matter of how much it saves us,” said McMichael.