More than half of young workers with student loans would prefer to work for an employer that offers student loan assistance than one that offers a match in a 401(k) retirement plan, according to a new study from Student Loan Hero.
A small but growing number of firms, including PwC, Fidelity and Natixis Global Asset Management, have begun offering this perk to workers.
Healthcare still trumps all others, but a majority of workers under age 24 would choose student loan repayment assistance over a 401(k) match or additional vacation time. That group is also the least likely to make retirement contributions, often because they’re strapped after making their student loan payments.
Among workers who would like to see student loan repayment assistance at work, nearly two-thirds say that they’d use the money to make additional principal payments on their loans, rather than to offset their monthly payments. When used in that way, the benefit could help workers eliminate their debt much more quickly.
“Companies that contribute to the financial well-being of employees are going to stand out to the best and brightest college graduates,” Student Loan Hero CEO Andrew Josuweit said in a statement. “Considering what a burden student loans are on so many Americans, student loan payment assistance is an innovative benefit that will accomplish just that.”
Still, the benefits are far from common. Just 3 percent of companies currently offer student loan assistance to workers, and less than 1 percent planned to institute it this year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.