Personal Finance

Got student debt? These companies want to help

Key Points
  • A growing number of businesses have added student loan assistance to their benefits menu.
  • Here are 10 companies that will work with you to get your debt down.
hept27 | iStock | Getty Images

Struggling with student debt? Some companies want to help.

Student loan assistance, which started as a niche offering at a handful of companies, is finding its way into the mainstream menu of workplace benefits.

"This is going to grow rapidly over time," said Asha Srikantiah, vice president of workplace emerging products at Fidelity.

Outstanding student debt in the U.S. has tripled over the last decade and is projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022. Average debt at graduation is currently around $30,000, up from an inflation-adjusted $16,000 in the early 1990s.

Here are 10 companies providing student loan assistance:

1. Sotheby's

Wang Zhao | AFP/Getty Images

Sotheby's, one of the world's largest art dealers, announced this month that it will offer student loan assistance to its employees.

"We want to be a differentiator," said Jill Bright, executive vice president of human resources and administration at Sotheby's. The company currently employees some 1,700 people.

If you have student loans, Sotheby's will pay $150 a month toward your debt. Parents who've borrowed for their children's education also qualify. The art broker is using Gradifi to administer the program, a provider of student loan and college savings benefits.

2. Abbott

Abbott Laboratories headquarters in Abbott Park, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Earlier this year, medical products company Abbott Laboratories announced it would help employees torn between paying their student debt and saving for their retirement.

If an employee contributes more than 2 percent of their pay to their student loans, Abbott will provide them with a 5 percent match to their 401(k) retirement savings plan.

The company has nearly 100,000 employees around the world.

"Our program – available to new and existing employees – has seen hundreds of people sign up since its launch in mid-August," said Mary Moreland, Abbott's divisional vice president of compensation and benefits. "We expect thousands more to get on board."

3. Aetna

Pedestrians walk past Aetna headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More than 700 employees at Aetna participated in its student loan repayment program in 2017, according to Ethan Slavin, a spokesperson for the health insurer. (Aetna has nearly 50,000 employees.)

The company will match full-time workers' student loan payments up to $2,000 a year, and up to $10,000 in total. For part-time employees, Aetna will match up to $1,000 a year with a lifetime maximum of $5,000.


"By helping ease their financial burden, our employees can better focus on our mission of building a healthier world,"­ Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini told USA Today.

4. Millennium Trust Co.

Ariel Skelley | DigitalVision | Getty Images

Helping employees with their education debt is a great way to attract new talent, said John Samaan, senior vice president and head of human resources at Millennium Trust Co.

The financial services firm began offering its employees student loan assistance a few months ago. Now, 20 percent of the company's employees are enrolled, Samaan said. More than 300 people work at the firm.

Employees receive a $167 monthly contribution to their outstanding student loan balance.

5. Penguin Random House

Penguin books are seen in a used bookshop in central London.
Stefan Wermuth | Reuters

The publisher contributes $1,200 per year— or a maximum of $9,000 — to its eligible employees' student debt. Part-time employees receive $75 a month, and no more than $6,750 in total.

"We have always believed in doing our part to tackle broader societal challenges by starting within our own communities," Markus Dohle, global CEO of Penguin Random House, said in a press release.

The company employs some 4,000 people across the country, and 12 percent are now receiving help with their student debt.

Other companies offering the benefit include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, an information technology company based in Palo Alto, California, Options Clearing Corp., a large clearinghouse for equity derivatives, Carvana, an online used car dealership, Andersen Tax, and consumer products company Honeywell.

Entertainment company Hulu, Estee Lauder and The City of Memphis also offer student loan assistance to their employees.

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