Student Loan Match

Taking employer contributions to employees' student loans to the next level.

Let me start by saying: This was a monster of a UX project, in the best way possible. Although the tight timeline made it stressful at times, we were able to implement a financial benefits program type that (to my knowledge) has never been done before. I believe it would be nearly impossible to recount the entire gamut of complexities and challenging requirements associated with this project, but I hope to provide some of my favorite highlights.

The project was born based on demand from our largest, most well-known client to date. The financial benefits organization I work at specializes in facilitating contributions from employers to their employees' student loans, and we had already built out a number of program customization options that allowed employers to set custom or standard contributions at a cadence of their choice, and even take into account factors like an employee's tenure. However, this new ask was to provide a program type that allowed employers to match their employees' contributions toward their student loans, up to a pre-determined cap.

Based on multiple rounds of competitive research, I could not find another platform that was offering a program structured like this for student loan contributions; the most comparable experience I could find was employer donation matching, tuition reimbursement and employee expensing platforms. Although I used aspects of this competitive research to inspire some of the initial design iterations, the lack of competitors meant I had a blank canvas to go off of, which both challenged and excited me.

I have broken down some of the main complexities, constraints, and considerations for this project below (this list is not exhaustive):

    ► A hard deadline that allowed us about 6 solid months to design, implement and test.
    ► Proof-of-payment documentation was to be checked manually by our operations team through a dual-approval process, so the participant experience needed to be connected in many ways to the intranet experience.
    ► Unlike most expensing platforms, we wanted proof-of-payment submissions to be able to be invalidated at an individual payment level, in addition to the submission level.
    ► Since we were accommodating both payment- and document-level invalidations, we needed participants to be able to resubmit invalid items on both a payment and document level as well.
    ► Due to the manual nature of documentation review, we needed to communicate hard submission and validation deadlines to participants, and the interface needed to change based on these deadlines.
    ► All the while, we needed to clearly communicate how the program worked and how to participate, since it would likely be different than most benefits processes employees have interacted with before...
    ► Oh, and did I mention that the program needed to be able to function on multiple payout cadences?

With all of these factors in mind and more, I:

    ► Conducted a vast amount of competitive research
    ► Planned and executed two rounds of usability testing at different stages of the project
    ► Created countless design iterations of varying fidelity
    ► Asked for feedback at UX design reviews
    ► Used my own expertise, usability testing analysis, and peer feedback to inform MVP designs
    ► Created an easily navigable Figma file that broke the project into chunks of dev work that were translated to Jira tickets
    ► Created reference materials for the client, the operations team, the customer support team, and more
    ► Adapted to shifting requirements and client customizations.

We were able to launch the MVP on schedule, and the client was so pleased with the launch that they described it as "flawlessly executed." You can find some screengrabs of the final flows and components from the project below.

  • — category: UX/UI, research
  • — company: FinTech benefits platform
  • — year: 2021
  • — for: Student loan employer contribution matching