Student Loan Assistance Ranked #1 Benefit Option for Open Enrollment

You’ve heard it before and chances are you’ll keep hearing it: millennials really need help with their student loan debt.  The national student debt figure has risen to over $1.5 trillion – a staggering figure by any measure.  Is it any wonder that employees with student debt are approaching their job options with a sense of enthusiasm about student loan assistance?

Employers throughout the United States stand poised to leverage this highly sought after benefit option to boost their employer branding and supplement their recruitment and retention strategies.  According to the Employee Benefit Adviser‘s Open Enrollment Readiness Benchmark (OERB) survey, student loan assistance was ranked by job seekers as their number one sought after benefit option.

To anyone familiar with the scope of the student loan crisis in this country, graduates’ need for loan assistance comes as no surprise.  Since this segment of the population accounts for an ever-increasing percentage of the job-seeking market, the benefit option acts as a mutually beneficial tool for both the employee and the employer.  Yet, despite this incentive, the student loan repayment assistance benefit remains a relatively underutilized tool by most companies in the United States.

Currently, about 8% of companies in the country offer this benefit, according to the 2019 Employee Benefits Report, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  That’s nearly double from last year (4%).  But, when you consider the sheer desirability of the (again, #1 benefit option for open enrollment), you begin to see the potential for employer branding differentiation.  There’s literally no better way to stand out from the crowd of other employers within a job seeker’s market.

 

And that’s something that employers desperately need to do: stand out to top talent.  The OERB gives employers the information they need to design a comprehensive and appealing portfolio of benefit options for their employees.  According to the survey, among the top benefits offered by companies in the United States, in order, are 401(K) (85%), dental insurance (84%), life insurance (84%), vision insurance (82%), health insurance (70%), health, fitness, and wellness programs (41%).  Coming in last at the very bottom of the list?  Student loan assistance (8%).  Talk about underutilization!

As employers move forward into the next quarter, there is only room for growth and enthusiasm for this highly sought after benefit, as it continues to act as a recruitment and retention tool.

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