HR collab helps staff and faculty manage student loan debt

Penn Today talks with Claudia Quinton of the Division of Human Resources, who, along with several coworkers, dedicated hours of extra time to assist colleagues pursuing student loan forgiveness.

Claudia Quinton.
Claudia Quinton, executive director, HR Services at Penn.

Last September, Penn partnered with the financial wellness benefits institution PeopleJoy to help faculty and staff take charge of their student loan debt and receive ongoing support.

Since then, staff at Penn’s Division of Human Resources (HR) have helped many eligible University employees get started with the loan forgiveness process through Penn’s collaboration with PeopleJoy. Penn’s HR staff role in helping other University staff access this new benefit has been successful, according to El McClelland, director, HR Programs, Quality of Work-life and Tuition Benefits.

“Applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is complex and time consuming, so with Penn providing this free service administered by PeopleJoy, the University is able to help employees navigate the process from start to finish,” he says.

Penn will hold two webinars on Feb. 16 and April 13 to provide staff and faculty with updated information about the loan forgiveness process and how they can take advantage of several resources.

More than 1,065 Penn employees have visited the PeopleJoy platform since the program began to determine their eligibility for student loan forgiveness, according to Kevin Porath, vice president of operations at PeopleJoy.

Of that number, 522 Penn employees have signed agreements and PeopleJoy is assisting them with forms, processing, and coaching. The hundreds of Penn employees who are now on a path to loan forgiveness collectively have the potential of $40 million in student loan forgiveness.

HR staff has played a major role in helping those who now have signed agreements by working diligently to help them process the employee verification forms required for individuals to move through the loan forgiveness process.

Several HR staff worked throughout the weekend before the Oct. 31, 2022 Limited PSLF Waiver deadline to process hundreds of last-minute requests. In addition to processing employee verification forms, HR staff helped Penn faculty and staff secure the physical signatures necessary for staff seeking loan forgiveness. The Penn Employee Solution Center serviced about 1,200 tickets that weekend and other members of HR processed hundreds of employment verification forms.

The Penn Employee Solution Center received and routed all the incoming emails and calls regarding the employment verification forms. Solution Center Manager Erin Brown says the team received hundreds of forms and worked well together to get the job done.

“Many HR staff members jumped in to help, and this made such a positive impact as it showed we are one team,” Brown says. “We could not have gotten through all the forms without the help of others, and I am truly grateful for those who volunteered without hesitation.”

Claudia Quinton, executive director, HR Services at Penn, spoke with Penn Today about the student loan forgiveness process, working on the team, and the importance of Penn’s partnership with PeopleJoy.

Describe your role in the Penn Human Resources and PeopleJoy partnership.

In my role, Human Resources Information Management, HR Communications, Penn Employee Solution Center, Records and Onboard@Penn report to me. Erin Brown informed me about the large number of employment verification requests the Solution Center was receiving. So, after collaborating with other colleagues, we decided to put together a special team of HR staff to handle the requests.

What motivated you to work extra hours on this extensive program?

I’d say two things motivated me to devote additional time to this program: The first was that I felt a responsibility to the Penn community. If at all possible, my colleagues and I wanted everyone who submitted a form to meet the deadline. Monday, Oct. 31, was the final day for applicants to have their employers sign their forms, and we still had individuals requesting signatures just days before the final deadline. I’m proud of the flexibility and focus of everyone who worked on this cross-functional team.

How is this program making a difference in people’s lives from your experience and point of view?

The PeopleJoy collaboration provides a smoother path for our employees and former employees. I understand that getting loans structured to be eligible for the program is tricky. PeopleJoy helps applicants with readiness. With the Solution Center, Penn has a process that streamlines processing the forms. Instead of wondering who has to sign the form or who to contact for information, employees can contact one email ( or phone number (215-898-7372) for guidance. Together, PeopleJoy and Penn have had a tangible positive impact on the budgets of hundreds of employees. We can talk about the millions PSLF will save in total across many people, but the real impact is in an individual being able to redirect the $500 or more per month into savings or something else that will contribute to their financial well-being.

What can eligible staff and faculty expect to experience in going through the loan forgiveness process?

Penn and PeopleJoy are offering additional webinars Feb. 16 and April 13. Staff and faculty are encouraged to click on the links to register for the webinars so they can take advantage of the program. They can expect prompt and accurate service from Penn HR. Everyone involved is conscientious. It isn’t just signing a form. We ensure accuracy, and if we find an error or run into an issue, we reach out to the employee or former employee directly to resolve it before proceeding.

What has been the most challenging part of the job?

The most challenging thing was the initial concern we felt for all the employees who were trying to use the benefit. Working so close to the deadline was difficult also. However, once the team was working together, we were able to overcome the challenges.