Student debt relief has recently surfaced as the newest workplace benefit.  Traditional workplace benefits include: health insurance, retirement plans, vacation and sick leave, and paid holiday time.  Now, more companies are looking for new ways to entice and retain millennial employees, and one new trend is for employers to offer financial assistance with school loans. 

The cost of a higher education has been increasing over the years, and coupled with the market crash of 2008, more people took on student debt and stayed in school to ride out the economic downturn.  Given the fact, Minnesotans have the fifth highest school debt load in the nation, financial assistance is a great marketing tool for employers.

Currently, only 3% of companies offer any type of student loan repayment plan, but that number is expected to grow.  Gradifi Inc. is a company that helps employers implement, “Student Loan Payment” (SLP) plans as a workplace benefit for their employees.  The participating employers determine the structure of the SLP, including who is eligible to participate, how long the plan lasts, and the amount of the employer contribution.  Minnesota based, PwC, is a consulting company that will be introducing an SLP plan this spring.  Starting a SLP plan gives employees more freedom to plan and save for other things in life, and avoid being saddled by their student loan debt for years to come.

Employers who add SLP plans as an employee benefit will be highly attractive to new employees.  I previously blogged about the trend in public sector employers willing to think outside the box by offering paid parenting leave beyond the minimums required by law. 

Benefit plans need to change in order to attract the best talent in a competitive business climate.  By taking a few creative steps, employers can create benefit packages that will improve employee satisfaction, retain talented employees, improve the bottom line, and improve the likelihood of future growth and development.