College Game Plan

Borrowers on $1.4 trillion student debt may benefit from new Fidelity program

Key Points
  • Eight in 10 workers with student loans say they would value working for a firm that ponies up money to help pay off their debt.
  • Fidelity debuts a new program for employers ready to offer repayment assistance.

For recent graduates, their student loan debt may very well shape their choice job, career path and employer.

Over the last decade, college-loan balances in the United States have jumped to an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to a recent report by Experian. The average outstanding balance is $34,144, up 62 percent over the last 10 years.

Now, more employers are betting that student loan repayment programs will attract young, top talent burdened by all that debt.

To that end, Fidelity Investments announced Thursday it is introducing a Student Debt Employer Contribution program, which will let employers make after-tax contributions toward participants' loans. The program, aimed at lessening the burden of student loan debt and increasing recruitment and retention, will begin later this year.

New work perk: Paying off student loans
New work perk: Paying off student loans

Student loan repayment programs are still in the early adopter stage, with just 3 percent of firms surveyed by AonHewitt offering assistance. Aetna, PwC and Penguin Random House are a few of the companies that already contribute to employees' loan payments. More are expected to follow.

AonHewitt says an additional 5 percent of surveyed companies said they are likely to add the benefit, and 24 percent are moderately interested in adding the benefit.

Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of workers with student loans surveyed by IonTuition said they would like to work for a company that provides a student loan repayment benefit.

More from College Game Plan:
Student loan balances hit record $1.4 trillion
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Percentage of college graduates owing $20,000 in student loan debt doubles in 10 years