Congress Wants to Help You By Helping Your Boss Pay Off Your Student Loan

paying off student loans
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

When you look at job listings, what do you usually check for on the benefits list? Health insurance, paid vacation, a 401(k) — maybe a 401(k) match, if you’re lucky.

What about student loan repayment?

A growing group of members of Congress want to make it easier for your employer to help you pay your student loans.

If the bill progresses, it may transform student loan repayment benefits from a surprising perk to a new human resources norm.

Your Boss Could Pay You AND Your Loan Servicer

A bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee proposes a tax break for companies providing up to $5,250 per year to repay an employee’s student debt.

A few companies already offer this benefit, but they’re few and far between.

PwC is known for its repayment program, which contributes $100 per month directly to a junior staffer’s student loan balance. The benefit lasts for a staffer’s first six years of employment or until they move into a management position. More than 8,000 staffers have enrolled in the program, according to PwC Chief People Officer Michael Fenlon.

In 2016, Staples introduced a program that pays $100 per month for 36 months directly to a full-time sales employee’s student loan servicer.

“Only 4% of companies have a benefit that looks anything like this, and it’s expected to be as much as 26% in two years,” David Klein, head of loan refinancing firm CommonBond, explained in a Marketwatch video.

Is This Real Life, or Are We Dreaming?

In a press conference about the bill last week, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, explained that by providing tax breaks to corporations that participate in such programs, lawmakers can help borrowers avoid default on their student loan debt.

But while the bill would be a salve for many recent graduates, it wouldn’t help those struggling the most to repay their loans: those still struggling to find employment opportunities that will help them make headway on their debt.

Lawmakers have proposed similar plans in previous sessions of Congress, but they’ve all faded away. With 36 bipartisan co-sponsors, this one may have staying power.

Your Turn: Would you try to get a position with an employer who offered a student loan repayment benefit?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

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