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Betterment to Provide Student Loan Management and 529s

Betterment is entering the 529 space following a deal with Gradvisor. It's also launching a student loan management feature.

Betterment at Work, the robo advisor's workplace retirement plan platform, is adding new tools to help employees manage college savings and debt, according to a recent announcement. The automated investing platform is acquiring Gradvisor to facilitate workplace participants’ investments in 529 college savings plans. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

At the same time, Betterment is launching “Student Loan Management,” a tool that will give employers personalized payment recommendations, payment programs and matching benefits to employees with student loans, through a partnership with consumer debt data provider Spinwheel. The move is part of Betterment’s push into “financial wellness” programs facilitated by employers.

As employers attempt to retain talent, offerings like student loan management benefits become even more important, said Kristen Carlisle, general manager of Betterment at Work, in the statement.

Following its deal with Gradvisor, Betterment will also be offering 529 investments with “extensive plan accessibility,” according to spokesperson Raoul Bhavnani. Gradvisor, the RIA spinoff of 529 information site, currently provides customers with access to all directly sold 529 plans, according to its site.

It will be the first time Betterment has offered 529 plans. The platform will give employees investment recommendations and let them invest through automatic payroll deposits. Competitor Wealthfront offers 529s through an advisor-sold option sponsored by the state of Nevada.

"Employees are asking for more cohesive and comprehensive financial planning across today, tomorrow and their future,” Carlisle said in the corporate announcement. “Providing unique and sought-after benefits that align with retirement or healthcare savings programs can provide a great competitive advantage to recruit and retain talent."

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