Eight in 10 workers with student loans say they would value working for a firm that ponies up money to help pay off their debt.
Less than 5 percent of companies now offer student loan repayment assistance.
A change in tax law could help the benefit go mainstream.
Employers eager to recruit and retain skilled workers in a tight labor market have about 1.34 trillion reasons to expand their benefits package to include assistance in helping employees repay their student loans.
That’s the mountain of student loan debt being carried on the financial shoulders of 44 million Americans. And no surprise, the bulk of those would indeed love for the boss to kick in and help pay it back.
More than 80 percent of workers with student loans surveyed by IonTuition said they would like to work for a company that provides a student loan repayment benefit. IonTuition, a fintech company focused on services to help borrowers manage their repayments, mostly surveyed millennials.
“It’s going to take a change in the tax code to see large growth in the benefit.”
Yet there is plenty of reason to suspect older workers would be eager for the perk, too. According to Federal Reserve data, borrowers at least 40 years old have a not-small $450 billion in student loans to pay off. A big part of that older cohort are parents who borrowed through the federal PLUS program or took out private student loans.
The benefit is still clearly in the early adopter stage with just 3 percent of firms surveyed by AonHewitt currently offering student loan repayment assistance. AonHewitt says an additional 5 percent of surveyed companies say they are likely to add the benefit and 24 percent are moderately interested in adding the benefit.
“Employers are incredibly curious and engaged around the issue given all the news about student loan debt,” said Balaji “Raj” Rajan , chief executive officer of IonTuition. He said IonTuition fields two or three inquiries a day from companies interested in adding student loan repayment assistance.
A few big old-line firms including Aetna, Fidelity, PwC and Penguin Random House have begun to contribute to employees’ loan payments. Earlier this summer, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, announced it will contribute $50 a month toward employees’ student loan repayment.