As the second leading form of debt in the United States, student loans are a significant source of stress for a number of employees, which explains the findings from a recent survey of 2013 to 2017 graduates conducted by Millennial Personal Finance. According to the survey, 53% of respondents said they would consider a salary cut in exchange for a student loan repayment benefit. In addition, 23% would exchange healthcare benefits for student loan benefits along with 46% and 33% willing to trade paid-time off and retirement benefits, respectively. Given the age of individuals most impacted by student debt, the results should not come as much of a surprise. That is, monthly student debt payments are a near-term concern for many employees, especially millennials, while health insurance and retirement planning feel like far-off worries.
The survey results suggest employers looking to attract and retain millennial talent would be wise to invest in student debt benefits. Eighty-four percent of respondents were willing to accept a job offer at a new company if their employer offered a student loan contribution benefit. This number is consistent with the 90% of recent college graduates that provided the same response in a SoFi survey. Consequently, employers can extract financial gains by lowering the costs associated with talent management. Also, with 57% of the millennials citing student debt as a major stressor affecting their daily productivity, employers financially benefit from a more efficient workforce. Both gains directly impact the bottom line, which explains why so many leading companies are investing in student debt benefits.
The survey is particularly interesting because the prevalence of student debt benefits makes it an area where a company differentiate itself easily from most of the competition, as only 19% of respondents said they receive a student loan repayment benefit from their employer. Also, two-thirds of employees with student debt repayment benefits from their employer receive $199 or less. Unlike health insurance, which is largely available from most employers and not an immediate area of concern, employers with student debt benefits will offer many millennials a compelling reason to join their team.