Google will help employees pay off student loans amid 'debt crisis'

Key Points
  • Google will match student loans up to $2,500 annually as a new company benefit for full-time employees starting in 2021 amid a "student loan debt crisis."
  • The company's benefits head John Casey said he tapped Black employee resource groups for the initiative, adding "the burden of student loans weighs disproportionately on communities of color and women."
  • It comes as the company find ways to compete for talent where in-office perks and benefits aren't accessible in remote work environments.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the company's 2016 Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Google's latest employee perk to attract talent is help with student loans.

Starting in 2021, Google will match up to $2,500 per full-time employee per year toward their student loan payments, John Casey, Google's director of Global Benefits told employees Thursday, according to an internal email viewed by CNBC.

"College degrees are out of reach for too many people around the world, and the soaring student loan debt crisis has widened an already pervasive wealth gap, globally," Casey said in Thursday's email. He added that Americans, in particular, face a student loan deficit upward of $1.5 trillion dollars, which he said is twice what it was a decade ago. 

The company's new perk aims to help students save the extra money so they can do things like purchase a home or start a family, Casey said in a Thursday blog post.

Google will roll out the new benefit in the U.S. first, but plans to expand to employees globally. During Q4, the company will "collect additional information to inform the rollout," Casey said in the email. "It gets complicated with different lenders country by country,"  he added. 

The new perk comes as the company, whose famous in-office perks aren't available during remote work, competes against tech companies like Facebook and Apple for young tech talent. The cost of living is particularly expensive in the San Francisco Bay Area,where the bulk of tech companies and employees are headquartered.

Casey told employees the latest announcement is an expansion of its education reimbursements for employees, and that it partnered with Google's employee resource groups Black Googler Network and Black Leadership Advisory Group, which he credited for "helping us to get this done."

"Because the burden of student loans weighs disproportionately on communities of color and women, this is a step toward building a more equitable Google too," Casey said in Thursday's email. 

The new perk won't apply to Google's roughly 130,000 contractors and temp workers — just to the company's approximately 123,000 full-time employees.

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