American workers want better conditions and benefits for their labor, and more employers are trying to meet those demands. One increasingly popular perk? Student loan repayment plans.
Student loan repayment benefits have been on the rise, with the amount of employers offering them increasing from 8% in 2019 to 17% in 2020, but they’re still relatively uncommon. And finding employers whose benefits match your needs can be a daunting task when you’re on the job hunt. Add in the fact that federal student loan payments resume in less than 90 days, and there’s more pressure than ever on workers to find a job situation that can help them with that burden.
That’s why Goodly, a student loan benefits provider, just launched the Goodly Jobs Finder tool, a free database where job seekers can search for open positions at companies that offer employer-sponsored student loan repayment as an employee benefit.
“We really wanted to showcase both the diverse range and cross section of companies that are providing these benefits,” says Greg Poulin, CEO and co-founder of Goodly.
The tool has initially been launched as a collaborative document so that users can suggest edits and submit information about companies that haven’t already been included. While Goodly is itself a student loan benefits provider, the database includes any employer that offers some form of repayment assistance, whether they’re a client or not.
Users can search by location, industry or company size, and then click through to see all the open positions.
The benefits provider plans to add 2,000 companies to the database by next week, and has predicted it will have over 5,000 companies by the end of the year. The tool could also influence companies that aren’t yet offering student loan repayments to consider doing so, Poulin says.
“I think it’s a really helpful product for employers, so you can remain competitive for recruiting and retention in terms of the types of benefits that you're offering,” he says.
The search tool comes at a time when many employers are desperate for workers to fill the nearly 10 million current job openings in the U.S. In the wake of the “Great Resignation,” which saw more than 4.4 million workers voluntarily leave their jobs this September, employers are deploying new tactics to attract new talent and keep current employees. Companies have started offering everything from bonuses, higher wages and free college tuition programs to unique perks like houseplant subscription boxes and virtual pizza parties.
While student loan repayment benefits have increased in popularity recently thanks to a December 2020 law that allows employers to provide up to $5,250 per year in tax-free benefits, many employers (and employees) are still unaware of this option. One of the main priorities for Goodly in 2021 has been to help increase awareness about repayment benefits, and how they can help both employees and employers.
“Employees want and need help with their student loans, and we're starting to see a lot of employers recognize it as a key to improving employee retention,” Poulin says.
According to a May 2021 survey from the Federal Reserve, 30% of adults reported taking on debt to fund their education, and nearly 75% percent of all job listings between 2010 and 2020 required at least some college or vocational training. By providing employees with as little as an additional $100 per month that goes directly to their educational debt, the AARP found that employers could help borrowers pay off their loans three years earlier than expected.
“Companies are recognizing that they are the direct beneficiary of their employees’ education, and they should play a role in helping to repay their student debt,” Poulin says.