Tuition reimbursement programs have been available for decades and are widely considered a valuable perk, especially for those pursuing advanced degrees or career-enhancing certifications. But they don’t benefit those employees who’ve acquired an education on their own dime, often taking on substantial student loan debt to qualify for their position within the company.
A recent survey conducted by iontuition™ found most student loan borrowers would welcome employer-based help dealing with the lingering financial consequences and stress of these loans.
- 75% would like to work for a company that offers student loan repayment assistance such as matching contributions and loan management tools.
- 55% would prefer their employer health benefit contributions go toward their student loan debt instead.
- 49% would rather have 401 (k) plan matching contributions redirected toward their student loans.
Such help may actually be on its way as corporate benefits providers place more focus on the connection between financial stress and productivity at work–and on finding ways to alleviate that stress.
Financial wellness has recently emerged as a key area of focus for companies, especially larger employers. The reason: companies that help their employees manage their finances are seeing evidence of increased productivity and a reduction in health care costs related to stress, as well as lower absenteeism. It can also help distinguish recruitment efforts where the competition for qualified workers is intense.
At the forefront of this shift, PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) announced in late September that it would begin putting $1,200 a year, for up to six years, toward student loans for some of its employees—typically, recent and newly graduated hires. But even more encouraging for student loan borrowers, a recently published interview with the firm that provides PwC with the software platform that will support its employee benefit program said it has 40 more companies on a wait list to launch similar loan repayment contribution programs in 2016.
While repayment contribution programs are still rare, they are something student loan borrowers may be seeing more of. Politicians and states—Colorado for one—are considering encouraging employer involvement in reducing student loan stress by providing tax credits for employer repayment contribution plans.
In the meantime, we invite anyone experiencing stress over their finances to reach out to our NFCC Certified Consumer Credit Counselors. Helping borrowers achieve a sense of relief from debt is their specialty.