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Would millennials want to work for a company that paid off their student loans?

For plenty of college grads with heavy debt loads, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

PwC, formerly known as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has a popular loan-offset program for employees: PwC pays part of their student loans as a benefit, offering $100 a month in loan payments for up to six years. That can cut loan principal and interest by as much as $10,000 and shorten employees’ debt-payoff period by up to three years. About 8,700 PwC staffers are currently signed up for the benefit and 8,069 are receiving payments. Since launching the program in 2016, PwC — among the first large companies to tackle the student debt issue via loan repayment — has paid off $25.9 million worth of workers’ debt.

Julie Schenck, an accountant with PwC’s mergers and acquisitions division in McLean, Va., finally paid off her entire $3,000 student loan in April after starting a $100-monthly payment plan through work.

She now recommends PwC’s benefit program to other new employees. “I always make sure to ask if it’s something that impacts a new employee, they should get it (the student loan offset) started,” said Schenck. “It really is easy to set up. And you see it coming straight out of your paycheck” directly to the lender. “No one ever says ‘no, thanks,’ because it’s such a great benefit.”

Healthcare giant Abbott offers a similar benefit. Its Freedom 2 Save program helps employees pay down student loan debt while also saving for retirement. The company changed its 401(k) plan to contribute to the retirement accounts of employees making payments on their student loans. If employees pay at least 2 percent of their salary toward their student loans, the company will contribute an equal amount to their 401(k) accounts.

And at Sotheby’s, when full-time U.S. employees with qualifying college debt make a loan payment, the international auction house will contribute $150 toward the loan principal, up to $1,800 a year. Sotheby’s partnered with Gradifi, a financial employee benefits firm, to create the plan.

Programs like these are becoming a more common benefit among employers. While these are available to employees of any age, they’re especially a boon to young American workers saddled with college debt, which has exploded to $1.5 trillion.

“Millennials have more debt than any prior generation,” says Jon Stein, founder and CEO of Betterment, a financial planning firm and robo-adviser that has expanded into 401(k) retirement plans for businesses. “Some companies are thinking they want to provide debt pay-down in addition to retirement savings. It’s a growing trend.”

Born between 1982 and 2000, millennials earn an average income of $50,406, about 20 percent less than baby boomers earned at the same stage in life. Yet, they also are increasingly caring about benefits and culture in addition to salary, said Aileen Alexander, who heads the Philadelphia office of Korn Ferry, the executive search firm.

Millennials are now the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce, surpassing the number of baby boomer workers, according to Wells Fargo, so employers are embracing amenities and new benefits to remain relevant.

“Organizations are getting increasingly creative with attracting talent,” including offering remote-work options, on-site game rooms for ping pong, and health and wellness programs “whether in the form of yoga breaks, gym memberships, smoothie shakes, or birthday holidays,” Alexander said. She knows of one company that, instead of offering tchotchkes to potential hires at job fairs, instead will ask them to choose three nonprofits to which the company will give donations “even if they don’t end up working there.”

Urban Outfitters not only offers “bring your dog to work” as a benefit, but discounted pet insurance. And Sweetgreen, the healthy foods and salad takeout chain, recently announced that it is giving mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and foster parents five months of paid parental leave.

“We believe it’s our responsibility to lead the way given the U.S. is one of the few countries that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents,” the company said.

Meanwhile, the popularity of a student-loan payment program is likely to keep growing, among workers of all ages. According to a 2018 survey by CommonBond, 78 percent of employees with current or future student loan debt want their company to offer this benefit, and 65 percent of employees ages 55 and also want the same opportunity.

“We’ve learned that student loan debt affects a much larger proportion of the workforce than previously realized,” said Leigh Gross, CommonBond’s vice president of partnerships.

Financial wellness programs that feature student loan benefits can increase employee engagement and retention, regardless of age group, the survey reveals. But for millennials, such programs can make all the difference in where they choose to work.

(4) comments

FCPS-Principal

BTW, I know several young people who are having no trouble paying their student loans. No trouble at all. Why? They chose well in school, got good paying jobs afterwards. They got offers while still in school. Scientists of every science. Doctors of every field. Medical Techs. Engineers of every group. Lawyers. Programmers. Their employers may or may not help with student loan payments, but they don't care. They're on their career growth ladder. Decisions have consequences.

FCPS-Principal

The me-me-me Millennials are driving the cost of doing business up, up and up everywhere with their idiotic wants and needs. No wonder businesses seek out China and India as a place to do their business from. Yoga breaks. Smoothie shakes. Ridiculous. Next: avocado toast breaks served at your desk, or delivered to your home if you "work" there. Birthday holidays? Why not? You're special! We're all about you, you and you! And you! Many companies are already bankrolling an intra-company Facebook like environment so their Millennial employees can yak yak yak yak yak on any subject to each other over the company network and waste their employer's time and money out their waazoos. Result? Companies have to hire twice as many Millennials as they did baby boomers, genXers and genYers to get the same work done. However there is one way companies can save money with Millennials. They don't need telephones. Millennials don't know how to use them. They communicate through infantile messages, which are 90% less efficient over voice communication, thus taking days instead of minutes to get a question asked and answered. It takes them 10 messages just to get the question phrased right because they can't understand more than 160 characters at a time. But hey, it works through an app so it must be better.

BunnyLou

Wow, your has has no bounds. You hate everybody equally.

sneakysnake90

Yeah, I'm sure if you actually paid tuition when you first began your career (assuming you have a degree) was either 90% less than what we're currently forking out for tuition or you make enough money that you've forgotten what "struggle" really is. As a millennial, I have to do TWICE the amount of work than your generation because I have to teach your generation how to use the new technology and then I have to do my own job. If private student loan companies stopped gouging their customers with interest rates that can go higher than some credit cards, we wouldn't be in this mess. I have 110K in private loans are all at 11.5% or higher because these companies go unchecked. My parents, as teachers, "made too much money" for me to qualify for FAFSA ten years ago. You know what happened?? I had to get my own private loans that screwed me out of being able to buy a house or drive something other than a CRV with 250000 miles on it. I don't eat avocado toast, don't go to yoga, don't drink smoothies or have FB. What I do is work my tail off at 60+ hours a week in a combat zone to pay off my insanely, criminally high private student loans so that I can survive. Not even PROFIT. Just survive! I've spent more time dumbing down my meetings, emails, appointments and work needs because using words with more than six characters is like pulling molars from a dog (which I also do as part of my job). So excuse you, troll. If your generation didn't screw up the economy, WE wouldn't be having such economic struggles. I'd hate to attend your school if this is how you feel about your past/current/future students. If you feel that negatively about us, then maybe you need to find a new career, or just retire. -A Millennial with a Master's Degree in something other than underwater basketweaving

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