Job Seekers Looking for Student Loan Reimbursement

Help with student loans joins retirement, health and vacation benefits as a priority.

Today’s job seekers are not just interested in whether a prospective employer offers a retirement and health plan, along with a paid vacation; they are looking for help from an employer paying off their student loans.

Beyond, a job placement website, found in a survey of 5,000 job seekers that 89% with debt believe companies should offer student loan repayment as part of the benefits package, and 10% ranked student loan repayment higher than a paid vacation policy as the “most important” benefit. Sixty-nine percent said they would “absolutely” be more willing to accept a job offer if it included a student loan repayment benefit.

According to the credit bureau Experian, the nationwide student loan debt reached an all-time record of $1.2 trillion in 2014. This data was supported by the Beyond survey, which revealed that 29% of job seekers owe more than $35,000 in student loans, and 20% say that student loans impact their ability to pay living expenses.

“401(k) matching doesn’t mean much if you are spending all of your money paying off student loan debt,” says Joe Weinlick, senior vice president of marketing at Beyond. “The hiring landscape is not as bleak as it was, and in a highly competitive market, companies offering innovative benefits such as student loan reimbursement may have a leg up on the competition. In addition, student loan reimbursement could help retain Millennials, who have been famously less loyal and more likely to switch jobs than previous generations.”

According to the survey, 81% of survey respondents said they would be more likely to stay with a company if it meant losing student loan repayment.

As to how they would like to receive student loan repayments, answers varied widely, with 58% preferring it in each paycheck, 29% favoring an amount at the end of each year, and 13% wanting a lump-sum payment after a certain work anniversary.

LIMRA recently issued a report saying that student loans could cost workers $325,000 in lost retirement savings over the course of a career. In addition, NerdWallet pointed to student loans as one of the factors, along with rising rents and conservative investing tendencies, that could cause many Millennials to retire as late as 75.

Natixis Global Asset Management recently announced a new benefit to assist employees with the repayment of their student loan debt.