More employers beginning to offer student loan payback programs

Struggling to pay off your student loans? Your employer may be able to help.

The number of companies offering student loan repayment has doubled in the past year, according to the 2019 Employee Benefits Report, a survey by the Society for Human Management.

Brittany Hamilton is the first person in her family to graduate college. She walked away with her degree, and a mountain of student loans.

“While my parents worked really hard my whole life, I knew that them paying for my school wasn’t an option,” she says.

So Hamilton cut costs where she could, working through college and going to state school near her hometown in northern Kentucky.

Still, she graduated with $32,000 in debt.

“When you’re in college, you have a huge expectation that you’re going to be making a lot when you first start,” said Hamilton.

She got a job at Fidelity Investments and enrolled in the student loan repayment program.

It offers eligible employees up to $2,000 annually, maxing out at $10,000.

“That’s a lot for me so far,” she said. “They’ve paid $7,300 in the past four and a half years, which is great.”

One in three adults under the age of 30 have student loan debt, according to PEW Research.

Hamilton says friends with loans usually have to make a choice: pay off existing debt, or save for the future. And that ultimatum is something that Fidelity Investments Branch Manager Adam Weiner says it couldn’t ignore.

“It seems to come up more and more regularly that this is a burden for people and people are having to make life choices and changing things they would want to do,” said Weiner.

While more companies are beginning to offer the perk, it’s still hard to come by. Just 8% of employers have a program.

Kelsey Sheehy at Nerdwallet says not to be surprised if you see more companies jump on board.

“Don’t be surprised to see other employers jump on this bandwagon. Student loan repayment assistance is proving to be a popular perk and it’s something that benefits new job seekers as well as people who are established in their careers,” said Sheehy.

Other companies offering the perk? Office supply store Staples, insurance giant Aetna and the U.S. Government.

Nerdwallet says in a competitive job market, it’s all attracting talent and hanging on to them.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Briana Harvath
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