15 October 2018

Should Employers Help Pay Student Debt?

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The 2018 Student Loan Survey Report published by IonTuition highlights lengthening loan terms and greater monthly payment amounts faced by U.S. college students and their families.

And more Americans are having difficulty meeting their loan repayment schedules, the research shows. Overall, 16% of the loans brought onto the IonTuition platform are now delinquent or in default.

According to the survey report, 56% of the more than 1,000 respondents initially borrowed more than $15,000 in student loans, while just 11% took out less than $5,000. Twenty-six percent initially borrowed more than $30,000 to finance their college education.

IonTuition finds more than half (52%) of respondents still owe more than $15,000 in student loans, and the year-over-year data shows the number of respondents with more than $30,000 in student loans actually increased over time compared to initial borrowing, “thanks to interest accrual.” Other findings show 36% of respondents have a student loan payment that is over $200 per month, while 30% pay less than $100 per month. As the report explains, the number of respondents with payments over $100 has increased or remained the same in all respondent categories since 2015.

The survey respondents included individuals reporting they have fully repaid their student loans. Overall, less than 10% of all respondents fully repaid their loans within 5 years, and one in 10 are already beyond a 10-year repayment period. For those acquiring new student debt, borrowers expect to take longer to pay them down.

According to the survey report, the number of respondents who reported that it will take more than 20 years to pay off their student loans has increased significantly since 2015, jumping from 10% to 16%. 
IonTuition researchers suggest these numbers make it clear that more Americans would benefit from having access to student loan repayment support programs in the workplace. Survey results show only 13% of respondents currently report working for a company that offers some type of student loan assistance.

Respondents feel strongly that employers should help their workers repay their student loan debt, the report highlights. Overwhelmingly, employees agree with the statement, “I would like my company to offer a voluntary student loan assistance benefit.” The same is true for the statement, “I would like the option to choose matching contributions towards my student loans over matching contributions towards a 401(k).”

“Student loan assistance ranks highest among other emerging voluntary benefits,” the report concludes, “including personal financial planning, legal support services, identify theft protection, retail discount programs and pet insurance.”

Click here for the original article from Plan Sponsor.

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