Fifty-Four Percent of Young Adults Prefer Student Loan Assistance Over Retirement Benefits, According to New Survey

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Recent survey by Student Loan Hero finds employees age 18-24 are least likely to save for retirement, most likely to desire student loan repayment assistance from employers

Companies that contribute to the financial well-being of employees are going to stand out to the best and brightest college graduates ... student loan repayment assistance is an innovative benefit that will accomplish just that.

With high-profile employers such as Pricewaterhouse Coopers​ and Fidelity Investments launching student loan repayment programs for employees​, hundreds more will likely do the same this year.1 Young adults, particularly those age 18-24, find this new workplace benefit to be especially attractive, with 54 percent preferring this benefit to a 401(k) matching plan.

According to the latest survey by Student Loan Hero, traditional employer benefits such as healthcare and 401(k) matching are still largely preferred among older workers. However, employees who are still in college or have recently graduated are more likely to prefer student loan repayment assistance. This group is also least likely to contribute to a retirement account, presumably due to burdensome student loan payments.

Student loan contribution benefits could also result in additional interest savings for employees. With 64 percent of respondents saying they’d use the benefit to make extra student loan payments (rather than include it as a portion of their current bill), companies can help their employees avoid paying thousands of dollars in interest charges and get rid of their loans faster.


"Today's young workers value organizations that invest in their employees," said Andrew Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero. "Companies that contribute to the financial well-being of employees are going to stand out to the best and brightest college graduates. Considering what a burden student loans are on so many Americans, student loan repayment assistance is an innovative benefit that will accomplish just that."

Survey Breakdown

Repayment Assistance vs. Traditional Benefits

When asked which job benefit respondents would prefer, assuming equal dollar value, respondents chose:

Student loan repayment (45%) vs. 401(k) retirement plan match (55%)
Student loan repayment (23%) vs. health care plan/insurance (77%)
Student loan repayment (53%) vs. additional vacation/paid time off (47%)

When asked how important it is that a job offer includes student loan repayment assistance as a benefit, more 18-24 year-olds were more likely to choose "very important" than 25-34 year-olds (23% vs. 13%, respectively).

Student Loan Debt and Retirement Savings

Age affected how many people contribute to a retirement account: 18-24: 33%; 25-34: 57%; 35-44: 66%; 45-54: 66%; 55-64: 60%

Age also affected how many people preferred student loan repayment assistance over a 401(k) match: 18-24: 54%; 25-34: 45%; 35-44: 42%; 45-54: 39%; 55-64: 39%

For employers seeking innovative ways to recruit and retain young talent, it’s clear that offering funds to help employees pay down their student loans is an effective option.


Survey was conducted via Google Consumer Surveys on behalf of Student Loan Hero from March 26-28, 2016, with a nationally representative sample of 1,763 adults age 18-64 living in the United States. The survey employed a screening question of “Do you have student loans” to limit responses to student loan borrowers only.

1 U.S. News and World Report, “More Employers Offer Student Loan Repayment Benefits,” March 9, 2016.

About Student Loan Hero

Student Loan Hero combines easy-to-use tools with financial education to help the millions of Americans living with student loan debt manage and pay off their loans. Student Loan Hero has helped more than 60,000 borrowers manage and eliminate over $1 billion in student loan debt since 2012 and assists over one million people in becoming more financially healthy every year.

Student Loan Hero offers both current and former students free loan calculators, as well as unbiased, personalized advice and repayment plans through an easy-to-use online dashboard.

Founded in 2012 by CEO Andrew Josuweit, who himself had over $100,000 in student loans, Student Loan Hero operates on the belief that all loan help and recommendations should come with honesty and no hidden agenda.

Student Loan Hero has offices in New York, Austin and Portland. For more information, visit



Megan Hartwick, Senior Campaign Executive
Diffusion PR for Student Loan Hero

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Megan Hartwick, Senior Campaign Executive

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