lass of university students using laptops in lecture

Winnipeg-based Great-West Life Assurance Co. (GWL) announced on Wednesday that Indigo Books & Music Inc. is the first employer in Canada to pilot GWL’s student debt savings program.

As a result, when an Indigo employee makes a payment on his or her Canada or provincial government student loan, Indigo will make a matching contribution to the employee’s retirement savings account within Indigo’s group retirement and savings plan — up to a maximum. To join the program, employees need to send proof of regular student loan payments to GWL.

“Today’s average post-secondary student accumulates $27,000 in student debt by the time he or she leaves school, and takes about 10 years to pay it off,” says Brad Fedorchuk, senior vice president, group customer experience and marketing, with GWL, in a statement. “Often, this means delaying important life goals like starting a family or buying a home.”

Early responses to the program announcement have been enthusiastic among Indigo employees. Niki, a financial analyst at Indigo’s head office, says she thinks the program could have a meaningful impact on her life.

“I made it a goal to pay off my student loan by 2019, and this program will help me achieve it,” she says. “I’ll now be able to contribute more towards my loan while knowing I have something saved for the future.”

Adds Miranda, a customer experience manager at Chapters’ Guelph, Ont. location: “Often, we have to choose which one to prioritize — debt or savings? I was so excited when I found out that Indigo now makes it possible to balance both.”