More companies offer tuition assistance, student loan repayment

With the pause on federal student loan payments ending in less than 90 days, many workers are under growing financial pressure — and employers are taking notice.

That’s driving more companies to enhance the benefits they offer, especially when it comes to college affordability.

In fact, in today’s job market, student loan repayment and tuition assistance may be two of the best incentives when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Student loan repayment

Before the pandemic, about 8% of employers offered student loan repayment assistance as a benefit, according to a 2019 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. 

Now, 17% of employers, including Aetna, Fidelity and PwC, offer student loan debt assistance and another 31% plan to offer it, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2021 Employer Financial Wellbeing Survey.

Incentivized by tax breaks, the burdens of Covid and collective student loan debt surpassing $1.7 trillion, “in the last two years, it has really picked up,” said Stacey MacPhetres, a senior director of education finance at EdAssist Solutions, a division of Bright Horizon focused on workforce education.

EdAssist works with companies like Orlando Health, Aetna and Volkswagen Group of America to offer employees student loan reimbursement.

As the student loan payment freeze nears an end, “we are already starting to see greater numbers of employers reaching out to implement the programs,” she said. “The demand is pretty significant.”

Tuition assistance