Are student loan repayment benefits worth it

20 Companies That Pay Off Employees’ Student Loans

A 401(k) and good health insurance used to be all employers needed to attractand keep talented workers. But student debt has reached a crisis level. Manyemployees are just as concerned about how they’ll pay back their student loansas they are with saving for retirement.In the past few years, forward-thinking employers have added a new item totheir menu of employee benefits to entice these employees: student loanrepayment assistance. This program gives employees money to put toward theirstudent loans in addition to their salary.It’s a movement that’s gaining traction.Image source: Getty ImagesEach company’s program has its own requirements and limitations and not all ofthem share this information publicly, but here’s a closer look at what you canexpect if you choose an employer that offers student loan repaymentassistance.

How do student loan repayment benefits work?

Employers vary in requirements and how they disburse student loan repaymentassistance. Most of these benefits are paid monthly, but some employers payqualifying employees a lump sum annually. Many have a lifetime cap onbenefits, which is usually $10,000.Some companies may require employees to work a certain number of hours or bewith the company a certain number of months to qualify for student loanrepayment assistance. Others have no such restrictions.Note that student loan repayment benefits aren’t the same as tuitionreimbursement, another increasingly common employee benefit. Tuitionreimbursement pays for new higher education courses and degree programs thatan employee enrolls in while working for a company. It doesn’t pay foreducational expenses you incurred before you came to work for the company. Youmay need to get approval from your company before you can claim tuitionreimbursement, and your program of study typically must be related to yourcurrent job. If you’re interested in furthering your education, there are somecompanies that offer both student loan repayment assistance and tuitionreimbursement, but these are rare.You should also note that money your employer gives you for student loanrepayment assistance is taxable, so it’ll raise your taxable income for theyear. This should come out of your paychecks automatically, so you won’t haveto worry about it, but you should note that you may not get the full amountyour company advertises.

Are student loan repayment benefits worth it?

Student loan repayment benefits can shave months or even years off yourstudent loan repayment term and save you money in the process. But you can’tbase your decision to take a job on this alone.If a company offers student loan repayment benefits but pays a much lowersalary than you could earn somewhere else, it might not be worth it. You’rebetter off going with the company that’s going to pay you more, especiallysince you’d pay taxes on your student loan repayment benefit anyway.Consider everything an employer offers, including salary, health insurance,retirement benefits, work-life balance, work environment, and educationalbenefits when deciding which company is right for you. Keep an eye out for newcompanies in your field that may offer student loan repayment assistance andconsider switching jobs if it makes sense.If you’re considering a company that offers student loan repayment assistance,make sure you understand all the terms. Ask: * if you must work for the company for a certain number of months or years before you’re eligible, * how much you might get per month or year, * whether there’s a lifetime cap, and * if there are other requirements you must meet to claim the benefit. As long as there’s a student debt crisis, employers will try to enticeemployees with student loan repayment assistance. It sounds great on thesurface, but you need to make sure it’s right for you. A $10,000 benefit mightsound too good to pass up, but if you’re only getting $100 per month and youdon’t see yourself remaining with the company for over eight years, it mightnot be the awesome perk you thought it was.Weigh all these factors before deciding to apply to a company just because itoffers student loan repayment assistance.Is an employee’s student loan repayment benefit taxed as income?For employees lucky enough to work for a company that offers a student loanrepayment program, the benefits of this perk are clear: Employees get “freemoney” from their employers to help pay down their student loans.Under employer student loan repayment programs, employers help employees payback their student loans in amounts that vary from company to company. Thismonetary assistance can be a great help to individuals struggling with studentloan debt and may even ultimately have an impact on the economy.However, prior to 2020, employer contributions were subject to both payrolland income tax, which means that for employees, the benefit wasn’t quite asbig as it might first appear.That changed in early 2020, when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and EconomicSecurity (CARES) Act expanded on this financial assistance by making allemployer-match contributions up to $5250 tax-free, exempt from both payrolland income tax.While the measure implemented in the CARES Act was due to expire in January2021, the new stimulus bill signed by President Donald Trump in December 2020has extended that tax-free benefit for another 5 years, with a new expirationof January 1, 2026.Related: Do student loans count as income?

Companies with Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Employer student loan repayment programs are still rather new — only about 10%of companies offer them. To get a sense of what kinds of programs differentemployers offer, here are several examples of companies who have thisincentive in place: * In 2019, Chegg, the education technology company best known for online textbook rentals, began offering its employees $1,000 annually toward student loan debt, with an additional equity grant of up to $5000 annually. * Estée Lauder, the cosmetics company, launched their student loan benefit program in 2018, by offering $100 monthly for payback, with a cap of $10,000 total. * In 2017, Fidelity, the brokerage firm, started offering a similar program by providing newer employees below a certain title $2,000 per year, up to $10,000 for student loan repayment matching. * Also in 2017, Live Nation, entertainment and events, began contributing $100 monthly to student loans, maxing out at $6,000 in repayment. * Penguin Random House, the book publisher, began in 2018 to reimburse up to $1,200 yearly (capped at $9,000) for student loans, for a full-time employee who has been with the company at least one year. * PwC, also in the financial services industry, also offers $1,200 annually, up to $10,000 total for student loan payments.Implementing a student loan repayment program with a matching contributionwill depend on a company’s size and resources.But this kind of incentive can appeal to potential new employees. Mostcompanies do not require employees who leave the organization to repay thebenefit. Paid out monthly, it can really help with the most burdensome studentloan payments, which some employees might find more valuable than, say, ayear-end bonus.

1. Amazon will pay 100% of college tuition and fees for high-demand

degrees, plus reimbursement.As of January 2022, Amazon will pay for college tuition, fees and eventextbooks for their operations employees who have worked 90 days at thecompany. The funds are distributed annually for as long as the students remainwith the company.Amazon’s Career Choice program also funds high school completion, GEDs and ESLcertifications. It also offers an in-house training program giving technicaltraining and certifications on-site.

17. Apple offers tuition assistance — for good grades.

While Apple doesn’t make the specifics public, they do acknowledge that theydo have a tuition assistance program.Employees on Glassdoor say that employees who maintain a B grade averagequalify for up to $5,000 in tuition per year.

18. Google will match student loan payments up to $2,500/year and help

with tuition.As of 2021, Google has introduced a new program to help reduce the amount ofstudent loan debt their employees are carrying, by matching employees’ studentloan payments up to $2,500/year.That’s on top of Google’s existing tuition reimbursement benefits, whichinclude up to $12,000/year for employee-students who earn grades of A or B.

21. Intel’s tuition assistance program offers 100% reimbursement.

Technology giant Intel provides its own in-house training organization called“Intel University” that offers over 7,000 courses to help foster workers’career goals. Employees may also qualify for financial assistance for work-related courses outside of Intel as well.Intel’s tuition assistance program offers 100% of reimbursable costs($50,000/program with no annual limit) including tuition, books, and certainfees.

29. Wells Fargo reimburses eligible tuition expenses up to $5,000

annually.While there’s not much information as to the maximum limit or what isconsidered “eligible tuition expenses,” we do know Wells Fargo will offer upto $5,000 annually as well as scholarship opportunities of up to $3,000 foryour children.

31. Fidelity offers 90% tuition reimbursement.

According to Glassdoor, full-time employees with at least six months ofservice are eligible for the Fidelity’s Tuition Reimbursement Program, whichreimburses 90% of certain costs up to $10,000 per year. These courses must beat an accredited college or university and be work related or part of a work-related degree or certification program.

35. Deloitte offers full tuition reimbursement for graduate studies after

two years of employment.Glassdoor reports that Deloitte’s tuition assistance program offers up to$10,000 a year after one year of employment.However, for “top-performing professionals,” Deloitte offers a Graduate SchoolAssistance Program that offers participants full tuition reimbursement aftertwo years of employment — postgraduate school — along with a “technologyallowance” for computer-related purchases, and an opportunity to return as aSenior Consultant. Deloitte also negotiates discounts for graduate schoolentrance exam preparation classes.Bonus: Deloitte offers a student loan consolidation and refinancing program inwhich employees can combine their existing loans into a single loan with onemonthly payment.

40. Chili’s covers up to 25% of employees’ tuition.

If you’ve worked for Chili’s at least three months and are working toward ajob-related certificate or degree, Chili’s will cover up to 25% of yourtuition costs.

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