Health care and retirement plans aren't the only employee benefits that make jobs attractive to young workers. According to a survey of 2,600 U.S. adults by health-care company Abbott Laboratories, 64% of adults with student-loan debt say finding a company that offers student loan benefits is important.
"The emotional appeal of 'You're worried about your student loans, we're going to help you with your student loans,' seems to be pretty effective," says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research for SavingforCollege.com. "It's about communicating to the employees that you, as a huge employer, care about what your employees care about."
In the U.S., more than 44 million borrowers collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. The debt crisis in the United States has led many younger adults to delay major financial milestones such as buying homes, saving for retirement, and starting families, so it's no wonder that many young workers, particularly in competitive fields, are looking for alternative repayment options.
Here are five companies that are trying to help.
Abbott's Freedom 2 Save program allows employees to pay off their student loans without having to sacrifice retirement savings. "When [employees] show that they're using at least 2% of their eligible pay to whittle down loans, the company kicks in with a 5% contribution to their 401(k) accounts—without them having to contribute a dime," Abbott explains.
The program aims to help with the problem of having to choose whether to pay off loans or save for retirement. And the company says that more than 1,000 of its employees have benefited from the program so far.
Health-care company Aetna will match their full-time employees' student loan payments up to $2,000 per year for a lifetime maximum of up to $10,000 for qualifying loans. Part-time employees get a match up to $1,000 per year with a lifetime maximum of $5,000.
In addition, the company also offers a tuition assistance program that pays 80% of the costs of undergraduate and graduate courses.
The education company Chegg introduced a program that will give entry-level through manager-level workers up to $5,000 a year towards their student loans if they have been with the company for at least two years. Those at the level of director or vice president can get up to $3,000 annually to help pay down their student loan debt.
"We are the beneficiaries of those people who have gotten an education—doesn't matter if it is [a] four year or two year [degree] or even if they completed it," says Dan Rosensweig, CEO & President of Chegg. He told CNBC, "If they borrowed money and they are creating value for us, we want to help them."
The financial services company has recently launched its Step Ahead Student Loan Assistance Program which provides eligible employees with up to $10,000 in student loans. More than 8,900 employees have benefited, Fidelity reports: Borrowers have saved $22.5 million in principal and interest and 34,625 years of loan payments.
In 2017, the major concert promoter and ticket seller became the first entertainment company in North America to offer student loan repayment assistance. The company matches employees' student loan payments up to $100 monthly, or $1,200 a year, until a maximum of $6,000. Employees who have been at the company for at least six months are eligible.
"As more employers offer these programs, the benefits of having such programs diminish, but for now they definitely yield an advantage," says Kantrowitz.
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