How Employers Can Help You Pay Off Student Loans

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Student loan payments can be hard to juggle when you have a growing list of other financial responsibilities. On average, borrowers carried a student loan balance of $38,792 in 2020, according to Experian data. The good news? Your current or future employer may offer payment assistance to help you tackle the balance faster. Federal tax breaks and the potential to recruit and retain qualified employees are encouraging more employers to help lighten student loan debt for their workers.

How Employer Student Loan Repayment Works

Companies that offer student loan repayment plans make payments to the loan servicer or directly to the employee. Depending on the employer, you may need to work at the company for a certain number of years or have successfully completed a degree to qualify.

However, some companies may help you pay back student loan debt even if you didn't graduate and there may be no tenure requirement.

Typically, employers match your payments annually or set a lifetime cap. For example, Google matches employee payments up to $2,500 per year, while Fidelity Investments caps student loan payment assistance at $10,000 per employee.

Employers That Help Pay Off Student Loans

A growing number of employers offer student loan repayment assistance as a company benefit. Most tend to be large companies, but that could change as more employers take advantage of tax breaks enacted last year as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Here are six major employers that offer student loan repayment:

  • Aetna: Aetna's Student Loan Repayment Program will match up to $2,000 in student loan payments annually for full-time employees with a lifetime cap of $10,000. Aetna will also match up to $1,000 per year for part-time employees who work 20 hours a week or more with a $5,000 lifetime cap.
  • Chegg: At Chegg, employees working in entry-level through management roles can receive up to $5,000 annually for student loan repayment. Employees at the director level or above may receive up to $3,000 per year. To qualify, you need to have worked with Chegg for at least two years.
  • Fidelity Investments: Fidelity Investments' Step Ahead Student Loan Assistance Program pays up to $10,000 of an eligible employee's student loans. Since Fidelity started the program in 2016, more than 12,000 Fidelity employees have taken advantage of it, collectively saving $58 million in principal and an estimated $27 million in interest, according to the company.
  • Google: Google will match up to $2,500 per year in student loan payments. The student loan payment program launched in 2021 and Google aims to expand it globally.
  • New York Life: New York Life offers up to $10,200 in student loan payments over five years to eligible employees.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): The PwC Student Loan Paydown benefit pays up to $1,200 per year on student loans for associates and senior associates.

How Employers Benefit From Helping You Pay Off Student Loans

Student loan debt repayment assistance programs don't just benefit employees; it's a company perk that can attract high-quality job applicants and increase employee retention.

Thanks to the CARES Act, companies also now get a tax break when they help employees pay off student loan debt. Through December 2025, student loan payments made by employers are considered an education assistance benefit similar to tuition reimbursement programs that pay for tuition, books and other education supplies. As a result, neither you nor your employer will pay taxes on up to $5,250 you receive in education assistance per year.

Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Faster

If your employer doesn't offer student loan payment assistance (or it's not enough to pay off your balance), these actions could help you pay off your loans faster:

Make an Extra Monthly Payment

Paying more than what's due each month can help accelerate your payoff timeline since extra money can go directly to attacking the principal (as long as you request it). Consider making payments twice a month instead of once a month to chip away at your balance faster.

Bring in More Income

When going over your budget, you might find that you don't have much extra cash to put toward student loan payments. Earning extra income by asking for more hours at work, getting a part-time job or a side hustle could help you bridge the gap.

See if You Qualify for Forgiveness Programs

If you find a job in a certain field or with an eligible organization, your federal loans may qualify for loan forgiveness. For example, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program may forgive up to $17,500 of eligible student loans for teachers who work in a low-income school for five consecutive years.

The Public School Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives your student loan balance after you make 120 on-time payments on qualifying loans while working at a nonprofit organization or in federal, state or local government.

Refinance Your Student Loans

If you have good credit, refinancing your student loans to secure a lower interest rate could save you money throughout the life of your loan and help you pay off debt faster.

Just keep in mind that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender means you'll no longer qualify for federal loan benefits like forbearance, PSLF or income-driven repayment. If you think you might need to use federal loan benefit options in the future, it may be a good idea to stick with your federal loans instead of refinancing.

The Bottom Line

If you have student loans, some employers may be willing to help pay off your balance. If your employer doesn't offer a student loan assistance plan, making extra payments or refinancing could help you pay off student loan debt faster.

If you're having trouble making ends meet, speak with your loan servicer before missing a student loan payment. Your lender may be able to offer a payment arrangement, and your federal loans may qualify for forbearance or an income-driven repayment plan for payment relief.

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