If you regret that working in the private sector has limited your access to government-funded student loan forgiveness, here’s a piece of good news: Regardless of where you work or what position you hold, you can still qualify for employer-offered student loan repayment assistance.
You just have to find an employer willing to offer it.
Where to Find Employers Offering Student Loan Repayment Assistance
Just 4 percent of companies provide student loan repayment aid, according to a 2018 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management. You might be more likely to find this benefit at larger corporations: A separate 2017 survey by WorldatWork found 8 percent of companies with 40,000+ employees offer this benefit.
If you have an in-demand skill set — we’re looking at you, web developers — you are also more likely to find companies competing for your services via robust benefits packages that include student loan repayment assistance.
According to Jonathan Burg, a director of accounting operations for PURE Group of Insurance Companies, his company aggressively pursues new graduates with finance degrees. As part of its recruiting and retention strategy, PURE offers employees $100 per month toward their loan payments.
“In the competitive environment that we’re in … I can see that if you don’t offer this [benefit], people are going to move right past your job link,” says Burg.
How to Ask for a Student Loan Matching Benefit
If your search for a company offering student loan repayment assistance comes up empty, it’s worth asking prospective new employers about their willingness to add the benefit.
You might approach the conversation the way you would when seeking a higher starting salary. In Burg’s words, your company should want to help you repay the tuition dollars that allowed you to build your expertise.
“You come out [of school] with debt — it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong,” Burg says. “You worked hard to do this. You’re working hard to pay your debt. … We’d love to help you pay that.”
If a company’s human resources representative is new to this idea, you might mention that in August 2018, the IRS gave the okay for employers to make “nonelective” 401(k)-style contributions to employees repaying student loan debt. Read more here…