A lot happened on all sides of the student loan equation in 2021, and Summer has been here to help our borrowers and partners navigate every twist and turn. From helping individuals get savings and forgiveness to explaining the latest federal policy changes to expanding our reach, we’re proud to have another impactful year under our belts.
As 2021 comes to a close, let’s look back at some of our highlights:
Putting Borrowers First
Connecting borrowers with the best income-driven repayment plan for their financial situation is one of the many services we offer at Summer. This year, the total savings we’ve helped borrowers obtain increased to $38.5 million, a really exciting number. At the individual level, borrowers have saved an average of $2,238 annually.
But that’s not all: we also helped borrowers get their remaining loan balances forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Megan, an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member based in Philadelphia, is one of the borrowers we helped this year.
After taking out Family Federal Education Loans (FFEL) in 2007—and making payments—Megan consolidated her loans into Direct Loans in 2011. Under the old PSLF rules, only Megan’s post-consolidation employment met the program’s requirements – under PSLF, borrowers need to make 120 payments, while working for a qualifying employer, in order to have their remaining balance forgiven.
After the Department of Education announced changes to PSLF this fall, Summer helped Megan submit an updated employment certification form and push her servicer to count payments made between 2007 and 2011 toward the 120 total. And it was successful: Megan had $37,000 in loans forgiven and received $11,000 in refunded payments.
“Summer helped me to feel less alone and confused in the loan forgiveness application process,” Megan said. “They were very responsive, knowledgeable, and supportive in the process, which turned out to be much faster than I expected it would!”
Breaking Through the Noise
Making loan repayment and forgiveness less confusing for borrowers is a priority for us at Summer. That’s why we also spent 2021 writing blog posts about the latest policy changes—so borrowers could understand what those changes might mean for them personally. These blog posts covered updates to PSLF, what to expect when the payment freeze ends, misconceptions around the CARES Act, and more. But we didn’t stop there. We also shared our expertise in CNBC, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal as well as other publications. And our Co-Founder and CEO Will Sealy even spoke on a Yahoo! Finance Panel about student debt.
Growing As a Business
We take financial well-being seriously at Summer, and we make a point to provide borrowers with customized recommendations for repaying their loans whenever possible. This year, we launched integrations for our digital platform and hired new team members—all so we could provide even better support to the borrowers and organizations that rely on us.
And there was a lot of demand for our services. The number of borrowers working with Summer grew by 128% in 2021, meaning thousands of people gained access to well-deserved savings and forgiveness. We made it easier for these new borrowers to submit their forms (which is a crucial part of getting forgiveness) with our user-facing tech tools and Borrower Success team, leading to a 158% increase in submissions.
“2021 was a year of great uncertainty for student loan borrowers. I am proud of Summer for serving as a source of truth and a lifeline for so many people in need of repayment assistance,” said Will Sealy, CEO and Co-founder of Summer, “As we reflect on a year of change, we want to thank every borrower we've helped and our many partners for trusting us with their plans for a debt-free future. Looking ahead to 2022, we have set our sights on achieving $1 billion in loan savings for borrowers. Onward and upward!”
Ending On a High
It’s been a busy 12 months, and we’re happy to have helped so many borrowers save money.
We’re also excited to share that Summer has donated $10,000 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, an organization that supports students attending public historically Black colleges and universities and predominantly Black institutions.
For a closer look at our 2021 highlights, check out Our Year in Review. Here’s to saving even more in 2022!
If you’re an employer thinking about offering Summer as a benefit to your employees, request a Summer demo to learn what we can do for your organization. If you’re an employee who wants your employer to offer Summer as a benefit, introduce us to your HR or benefits team. Email us with details at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll take care of the rest.