By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
Workers are becoming increasingly burdened by growing student loan debt balances, which by some estimates have reach an average of $28,650 per graduate. According to recent research from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, employers are recognizing this burden. The Education Benefits: 2019 Survey Results found that a small proportion of responding organizations are offering to pay down portions of workers’ loans to retain productive workers and attract new candidates, and more are interested in offering student loan repayment benefits in the future.
The International Foundation found that 4 percent of employers already offer some sort of student loan repayment assistance benefit. Also, 1.6 percent are currently in the process of implementing a loan repayment program, and an additional 22.6 percent are considering implementing a program. The survey noted that large employers are much more likely (9.3 percent) to offer loan repayment assistance than small (1.7 percent) and midsized (3.7 percent) organizations.
Of the employers that are considering or are in the process of implementing a student loan repayment assistance program, most are doing so to attract future talent (89.4 percent), retain current employees (69.1 percent), and maintain/increase employee satisfaction and loyalty (67 percent), according to the study. Organizations also are doing so to keep current with evolving skill sets required for organizational success (22.9 percent) and to maintain/increase innovation (16.5 percent).
The survey identified some potential barriers and challenges to implementing a student loan repayment program, which include cost (48.9 percent), uncertainty/complexity of implementation (31.4 percent), and potential resentment among workers who have already paid off loans (29.8 percent) or have ineligible loan debt (25 percent).
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