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More companies offer tuition assistance, student loan repayment

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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.

This is causing more businesses to increase the benefits that they offer, particularly when it comes college affordability.

Two of the greatest incentives in today’s market for talent retention and loan repayment are tuition assistance and student loans.

Repayment of student loans

About 8% of employers had offered assistance with student loan repayments before the epidemic, according to research. 2019 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. 

According to the Employee Benefit Institute’s 2021 Employer Finance Wellbeing Survey, now 17% of employers offer student loan assistance, with Fidelity, Aetna and PwC among them.

Tax breaks encourage student loans and Covid debt to be more than just a burden. $1.7 trillionAccording to Stacey MacPhetres (a senior director in education finance), “in the past two years it has really picked-up.” Bright Horizon has a division called EdAssist that focuses exclusively on the education of workers.

EdAssist offers student loan reimbursement to employees through partnerships with Aetna, Orlando Health, and Volkswagen Group of America.

The student loan payment freeze is nearing its end and “we’re already seeing more employers reach out to us to put these programs in place,” she stated. The demand for these programs is quite significant.

Assistance with tuition

You can, of course. employers paying for their employees to get a degree is not new. Since decades, companies have taken care of the tuition for MBAs and white collar graduates.

However, many companies are now extending this benefit to front-line workers — such as drivers, cashiers, and hourly employees — as well as heavily promoting the offering more than they have before.

For employers, education-as-a-benefit is a cost-effective addition to core offerings and it adds “to the stickiness of the employee,” Willis Towers Watson senior director Lydia Jilek said.

Chipotle chief financial officer Jack Hartung told CNBC in April that employees who take advantage of the company’s free degrees are 3½ times more likely to stay with the company and seven times more likely to move up into management.

According to research, even though employees desire to return to school, only half said that they were able to achieve their educational goals over the past five years. This is mainly due to financial and time constraints. Bright Horizons

Bright Horizons discovered that minority groups are more vulnerable to this struggle.

This is 44% of Black workers saying they have difficulty affording college, as compared to 29% of White employees. The gender gap is similar for men and women. About 36% of women who work report having financial difficulties in obtaining education. This compares to 22% for men.

Find out more from personal finance:
Here’s how to maximize your benefits
8 companies that help pay off student loans
These companies are offering tuition assistance

EdAssist’s MacPhetres advised that you do some research in order to determine if your employer provides any type of help.

Even though “student loans repayment is the ultimate goal”, there might be more valuable options, like access to financial advisers or student loan counseling.

MacPhetres advised that you should be proactive. Even if your company does not offer tuition assistance or repayment of student loans, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to.

Employers are usually responsive to workers who bring their best, she stated. It’s okay to propose it.

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