Human Resources is hard work. HR professionals have to mediate issues, but also try to remain a neutral party, despite their feelings on a situation – good or bad. The average HR person has to manage a cavalcade of personalities and do it with tact.

There’s leadership training, updating the staff on new changes to company policy, and then the patchwork of the daily grind.

One of HR’s biggest jobs is managing new hires and walking them through the onboarding process. Onboarding is critical when it comes to how new hires because it tips the hand of how their relationship with HR will go from here on out.

If the HR person seems open and emotionally available, that lets the new hire know that the door is open and if there’s an issue, it’s ok to stop by and talk. A good HR person is someone who sees the diversity of a whole lot of people’s attitudes from different angles and helps realize a solution long before an incident becomes a problem.

One of the reasons getting onboarding right is that it puts a human face first.

Onboarding new hires shouldn’t be rushed. Give new the new members of the team time to dive deep into the papers they’re signing and ask questions. A bold statement would be to give new hires two days of onboarding before being released into the company’s general population. It seems silly, but because a new hire was pushed through onboarding, something could be confused and have a ripple effect down the line.

HR Hell is constantly trying to fill recruiting holes and deal with a litany of paperwork every 12 months because someone wasn’t vetted properly, or at the very least wasn’t onboarded correctly. There’s the initial welcome, the introduction to the company, and then there’s the packets of documents, NDA’s, the insurance forms, benefit guides, direct deposit, etc. There’s a lot of paperwork when a new hire signs on.

After the paperwork, there’s ramp up, meeting new teammates, and finding out where the bathroom is. Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), states turnover can be as high as 50% after 18 months. Back in the day, people stayed on the job forever. Now? Companies have to compete with insane perks for top talent. The average person goes through ten to fifteen jobs before age forty. Just to replace someone costs the company 25% of that person’s salary.

Because of this circumstantial mix, onboarding should be a two-day process: one day for paperwork and a comfortable pace of company expectations. Day two should be meeting a variety of team members and getting to know the lay of the land. Some company’s even assign a “buddy” so that new hires have someone to latch onto as a means to adopt company culture.

The three most significant tentpoles of onboarding are:

It’s important to give the correct representation of what the company stands for and why the dynamic works. The new hires need to understand and grasp what the company’s values are something like: We stand for these tenants because we believe these are the keys to our success. We value hard work and accept failures as a part of the learning process. Insert some other high spirited stuff that looks good hanging on a wall.

Knowing and understanding the place of values is critical. Getting the new hire deep within the team’s culture is also paramount. Culture is everything and ensuring the onboarding process makes it clear what the company is about is an important goal to hit. If the company is progressive and transparent with their workflow, everyone coming on board needs to get with the program of standups, agile workflows, etc.

The onboarding process can be grueling, especially if the company’s hiring is expanding fast. But because there are some fantastic HR folks out there, they’ll always find a way to make an otherwise mundane process awesome.

There’s an integral section of the new tax proposal buried amongst the updates that has folks on Capitol Hill talking: the effects of the bill on higher education. As it stands, the new tax code overhaul is an effort to simplify how people pay into the system and how tax breaks work out for every tier of taxable income.

The continued arguments about the national debt and how we approach the ceiling, the funding of government, and how we amend it are frequent battleground topics, even for members of their own parties.

From billionaires, the middle class, to working farmers, there are bright spots and dark clouds within the proposal and likely will need a lot of bipartisan support and compromise to pass the majority, and rightly so. The current plan doesn’t offer the kinds of breaks that specific demographics rely on – namely highly educated students.

The bill passed the House of Representatives, but is currently under substantial debate in the Senate thanks to the 1.5 Trillion corporate tax cut, which eliminates a plethora of individual tax breaks for the average student. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the American Council on Education have been quoted as predicting the shift in the tax code could affect students by $65 billion over the next decade.

HOW THE PROPOSED CHANGES AFFECT THE MIDDLE CLASS

The way the current deduction is structured is that it allows student loan borrowers making around $65K and married couples making up to $130K to lower their taxable income by $2,500. Because of this deduction, the average borrower saves almost $700 a year. For a lot of folks, that $700 is critical. Erasing the ability to write off that cash could have severe implications for a segment of the working population when student loan repayment is already frustrating, considering over 44 million people are handcuffed to 1.4 TRILLION dollars of student loan debt.

With defaults skyrocketing, late fee’s in the thousands stacking up; the government is playing a dangerous fiscal game. Even parents who want to plan for their children’s futures are now burdened with new guidelines as to how they can save. Instead of a smooth plan for college saving through the ubiquitous Coverdell Savings Account, the new account would be called a 529 plan. The rub here is that currently, families can deposit $2K annually and withdrawn tax-free so long as they’re used for education-related expenses.

The 529 plan only allows for college expenses instead of the Coverdell, allowing an investor to put their money toward any schooling such special classes or even just enrolling one of the kids into a private high school. The Coverdell at its core works as a place catch-all for any, and all school expenses no matter the grade.

BUT, WAIT THERE’S MORE

For parents with full-time college students, there’s the American Opportunity Tax Credit which may take advantage of it’s increased financial ceiling. Currently, married couples making less than $160K or a single parent making under $80K can get a tax credit that gives them $2,500 annually for each child in college. In the new version of the tax plan, this goes the way of the Dodo by way of a decreasing annuity.

Even worse, for Graduate students, the tax plan is a proverbial kiss of death thanks to its decrease in benefits for anything after the fifth year of college and also ends the Lifetime Opportunity Credit. This credit allows students who go to school more than five years to get a $2K credit on their taxes, considering they worked to be doctors, teachers or just care about the deeper meaning of education.

Those students who want a graduate degree will pay more taxes than some small businesses. Grad students would see their taxes increase by a whopping 400%. Typically when a grad student is accepted by a university, many of the students sign tuition waivers – this allows the student to earn a free education but also expects them to work at the university. The tax bill would tax this work as income, despite having any money to account for the work and essentially crippling the possibility of earning a Ph.D.

BETWEEN THE LINES OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

Considering most graduate students tend to be politically engaged at a much higher rate than the national average, this move feels slimier than it probably should. Most people who know how the tax code works along with the student loan debt problem agree across the board that we need to forge some smarter paths, but not like this. Cutting corporate taxes on the backs of college students isn’t fair.

What about the college staff, surely they’d be ok in this literal mess, right? They’d get hit, too. Anyone on a college staff, including cashiers, janitors, IT admins – anyone, who uses a benefit to send their kids to the school, will see their credit taxed as income.

State schools aren’t the only ones feeling this burden, either. Private colleges will also see their student body deal with an upheaval in the tax code, too. More than 150 private colleges would receive a 1.4% excise tax on endowments valued at 100K per kid. Considering the call of government to keep things “small”, this is a hard line on private institutions whose student body draws heavily from the well of financial subsidies such as a Pell Grant.

Because of this tax excise would pummel colleges, colleges, in turn, would have to significantly reduce their support staff and hack scholarships down to balance overhead.

As it stands, the proposed bill made it through the House of Representatives but is currently taking a beating in the Senate thanks to more than one instance of murky language, but also dangerous policies like these.

ADOPTING THESE TAX AMENDMENTS INTO LAW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE MIDDLE CLASS IN A TWO-TIERED FASHION:

The bill would hurt students in their long-term quest for higher education. Which also would impact the job market, making certain professions harder to fill vacancies. The other big piece of this sour-tasting pie is that most colleges are run by the middle class.
From the person walking the grounds to most teachers, the janitors, or even the folks keeping the grass green at the football field – those are middle-class jobs that could potentially be compromised thanks to a shift in economic balance in regards to school.
No matter the political affiliation, people care about this issue and people want the opportunity to get their kids through school, and not lose their shirt while doing so. If passed, this move would increase the student loan debt by 24 billion over the next decade.

The Senate should have rejected this bill. We can’t allow them to gut higher education. If there is an American value that’s given to all who live here, it’s that a good education should be available. Granted, the system isn’t perfect and we’re a long way off from student loan debt being solved, or all child being served across the board. We should be looking for ways to support education, not punish those who want to climb the educational ladder.

With the Senate passing their end of the bill, now we wait to see how the proposed tax cuts work as the two versions of the bill are fought between the Senate and House. Because as it stands, it’s easier to own a private jet with armfuls of write-offs than it is to fund higher education. This needs to be amended.

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The rhetoric around student loans is nothing short of mind-blowing. There’s a ton of misinformation out there.

It’s a constant battle to dig through the facts beneath the politics and confusing stats. To help you stay in touch with the truth, here’s the first of a series of updates answering the big question, “What’s up with student loans?”

THE CURRENT RATE: NOW BORROWING AT 4.45%…

This is heavy duty news. This is an 18% increase which could be as much as $4,700 in extra interest paid to someone who borrows the total amount of America’s average student loan balance, $37,172.

Dates: July 1, 2017, was the last interest rate change. Per legislation, the next rate change could come as soon as July 1, 2018.

THE LATEST FROM PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TEAM

The last we heard from the White House on student loans: Forgiveness for defrauded borrowers may not come so easy.

STUDENT LOANS & TAX REFORM

We’re a long way from full tax reform, but “The Big 6” signaled that legislation related to student loan benefits and tax help could be on the way. Fingers crossed.

“Work, Education, and Retirement – The framework retains tax benefits that encourage work, higher education, and retirement security.” – Read more at taxfoundation.org

STUDENT LOANS & HURRICANES

The cliff notes version – Student loan borrowers affected by the recent natural disasters are eligible for up to six months of forbearance (they won’t have any payments due, but will still accrue interest). But, there’s a catch: those borrowers have to apply by contacting their student loan servicer.

Long version: Check out the Federal Student Aid Presentation on Disasters & Title IV for more details.

NEWS YOU CAN (ACTUALLY) USE

And that’s a wrap on this roundup of news. Once we’ve got some new information to share, you’ll be the first to get it. If you’ve got any feedback, questions, advice or just wanna say hey – leave a comment or tweet us.

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