Life After Education and the Effects of Student Debt
Caitlin Leonard posted on April 28, 2017 |

More than half of all young workers think about repaying their student debt either “all the time” or “often,” according to a new survey conducted by American Student Assistance (ASA).

The study, presented online in January 2017, gives a look into the minds of young workers and their experiences post-graduation. A major finding is that ninety percent of young employees interviewed said that as a direct result of financial obligations, they would commit to a job for five years in return for help with their student loans.

The survey, entitled Young Workers and Student Debt, reviewed answers from 502 young employed persons between the ages of 22 and 33. The findings revealed a high demand for employment benefits such as increased financial literacy, one-on-one counselling and sign-on bonuses, in addition to the desire for assistance with student loan repayment.

The survey also reported strong indicators that the effects of student debt include lower levels of health and productivity in the workplace. The director of consumer advocacy at ASA reported that to specifically address this issue, there is a need for employers to take on part of this burden from their employees who are recent graduates.

The survey results suggest that employers should realize that in order to retain bright and young talent at their companies it’s important to assist with straightforward and practical solutions to this reality.

The numbers specifically show that 40 percent of young workers believe this issue affects their health and well-being, 55 percent would like to attend grad school but do not want to increase their loan amount, and 61 percent have considered getting a second job to pay off additional owing amounts.

54 percent of young workers also say that paying off student debt comes ahead of their retirement savings, and 63 percent reported that they didn’t feel they had support when dealing with these issues.

The survey also included questions to 451 human resource managers at companies with at least 100 employees. These results showed that there is a discrepancy between the perceived impact of student loans on workers and the facts, and 75 percent of HR professionals reported that their companies don’t provide any assistance with this issue.

These numbers suggest that once students graduate and find employment, there is still a need for assistance with the loans they have accumulated. 93 percent of young workers and HR professionals combined agreed that companies should be more concerned about their employees’ work and life balance.

In positive results:

  • 86 percent of young employees reported that they would commit to a job for five years if the company helped pay back their student loans
  • 93 percent would participate in a sign-on bonus to pay off student loans
  • 92 percent would say yes to a match for student loan repayments similar to a 401K match
  • 89 percent would agree to long-term financial planning assistance
  • 79 percent would like to have free access to a student debt loan counsellor.

These findings indicate strongly that students are open to support, education, and direction with these issues, and in order for companies to fully support and keep these young employees, a consideration of their student loan obligations should be prioritized.

More information and full results of the study can be found at www.asa.org

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