If paying off student loans is a struggle, you may want to get a new boss.
Helping graduates repay their student loans is a powerful recruiting and retention tool that is becoming more popular among employers.
“While a raise is always nice, I like receiving the extra help paying off my student loans because it gives me an incentive to pay them off faster”, says Mackenzie Kreitler, who works at Student Loan Hero. “Employees with student debt get up to $2,000 a year toward payments on our student loans, which is a huge help. This benefit has most definitely factored into my decision to accept a position at the company and stay with the company. When you are looking at over $900.00 per month in payments, any extra bit of help goes a long way.”
It’s easy to see why student debt assistance programs are so attractive to recent graduates like Kreitler. The average college graduate of the class of 2015 had about $35,000 in debt (source), and student loans are the second-largest source of debt in the United States. American households now owe $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, more than any other source of credit except mortgage debt (source).
Although troubling, the amount of student loan debt is not the main concern. The real issue is the high rate of delinquency of student loans. In 2016, 11% of student loans were delinquent, or 90 days overdue (source).
This figure does not include student loans that are in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance. A 2016 report by the Federal Reserve of New York reported the actual delinquency rate of student loans when you do include those categories is about 22%.
Companies that pay student loans
Although the number of employers that offer assistance with college debt is growing, only 4% did so in 2016, according to the 2016 Employee Benefits report of the Society for Human Resource Management.
This list provides the basic features of the student debt repayment incentives of the companies we know about. Please leave a comment below if your company provides college debt assistance and is not on our list, and we will add it.
|Company||Student Loan Incentive|
|SoFi||$200 per month|
|Public Service Loan Forgiveness|
|The balance of your student debt after you have made 120 monthly payments (source).|
|Fidelity Investments||$10,000 ($2,000 a year for five years)|
|PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)||$1,200 a year for up to six years|
|Kronos||$500 a year|
|Natixis Global Asset Management||$10,000 per employee ($5,000 after five years and $1,000 a year)|
|LendEDU||$2,400 per year|
|Chegg||$1,000 a year|
|ChowNow||$1,000 a year|
|Student Loan Hero||$2,000 a year|
|Credit Suisse||0.25% discount on interest rates|
|Nvidia||$6,000 per year ($30,000 in total)|
|Staples||$1,200 per year ($3,600 in total)|
Student debt repayment assistance and taxes
Student loan repayment assistance is a taxable benefit. That could change if Congress approves the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act of 2015. The new law would allow employers to pay up to $6,000 a year in student debt assistance that would not be included their employees’ gross income. The act is now with the House Committee on Ways and Means, and there doesn’t seem to be any rush to move it ahead.
However, if more employees start offering student debt assistance as a perk, it might pressure Congress into making it a tax-free benefit like 401(k)s and health insurance.
Create your personal student debt relief program
You don’t have to wait for Congress or your employer to start your own student debt repayment program. Find out how you can repay your student debt faster and reduce your interest payments with a student loan refinance.