Student loan aid becomes favored job perk

Genevieve Douglas
Bloomberg News

Companies looking to attract recent graduates should consider student loan management as part of their benefit package, as many student loan borrowers would prefer to work for a company that offers them some relief from their payments, according to survey results released Sept. 1 by Iontuition.

Iontuition found that nearly 80 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed in July who said they had student loan debt indicated they would like to work for a company that offers repayment assistance, such as employers matching a portion of the employee’s loan contributions.

“With record amounts of student debt attached to the incoming workforce, the majority of those surveyed viewed employee benefits that address education loans as a breakthrough and welcomed solution,” the debt management service company said in a Sept. 1 press release.

“Employers need to get engaged in the student loan issue,” said Balaji Rajan, chief executive officer of Ceannate Corp. (of which Iontuition is a subsidiary). Giving employees a way to manage student loans is a bonus for the employer and employee, he said.

Rajan predicted that large employers will be the first to jump in on student debt benefits, while small employers may be further behind the trend. However, “this issue isn’t going away any time soon,” he said.

For many respondents, the idea of loan management services is more appealing than more traditional employee benefits, the Iontuition survey found.

More than half (55 percent) of respondents said they would prefer that the amount they are paying for health care go instead toward their student loan balance.

Additionally, 49 percent of respondents said they would prefer student loan payment contributions over those fora 401(k) plan.

“Employers who rely on a college-educated workforce cannot ignore numbers like these,” Rajan said. “Our survey shows that a majority of borrowers would greatly value an employee benefits package tailored to reducing and managing their student debt.”