Updated Aug 30, 2023 - Economy

Growing job benefit for new grads: Student loan relief

Data: Handshake; Chart: Axios Visuals

Vacation days, health care, 401(k) matching and now: student loan repayment. More companies are offering to help young new hires with debt in their benefits packages, according to new data from job platform Handshake.

Why it matters: Student loan payments are set to resume in October after a years-long pandemic pause.

  • The share of job descriptions that include student loan assistance on Handshake, a jobs platform for Gen Z, has more than doubled since 2019, according to the company's new network trends report.

Driving the news: More than half of 2024 graduates expect to carry student loan debt, per Handshake.

  • Nearly 70% of respondents said debt would influence their job search upon graduation, the survey found.
  • "Companies look for ways to distinguish themselves with top talent and relieve the pressure student loans place on early-career hires," Handshake's report said.

By the numbers: Around 3% of full-time jobs contained keywords including student loan repayment, student loan, loan repayment, student loan paydown, education debt, debt repayment and student debt in job descriptions as of June 2023, Handshake found.

  • That figure — representing 4,000 jobs from more than 2,500 employers — marks more than twice the percentage of jobs doing so in 2019, though still a small share overall.

Context: More than 7 million people 24 or younger collectively owe $103.8 billion in federal student loans.

Details: Jobs across industries are offering student loan assistance as a perk of employment, per Handshake.

  • 31%: health care and services
  • 23%: nonprofit
  • 14%: government, law and politics
  • 8%: financial services
  • 8% education

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Hope King: Tech, a traditionally higher-paying industry, was absent from Handshake's list of top sectors with full-time jobs mentioning student loan keywords.

  • This suggests that many of those companies may already provide competitive perks and can still afford to compete on salary, which workers continue to prioritize over benefits.
  • Even as demand for new workers has cooled, it's clear that recruiting strategies haven't.

Of note: Students graduating with debt said they're likely to pursue gig work in addition to a full-time job.

  • More than 40% of students said they'd pursue gig or freelance work after graduation — with nearly a third who would do so in addition to a full-time job, the report found.

Zoom in: Student loan debt is a particularly significant burden for women, Black students and first-generation students, per Handshake.

Go deeper: How to apply for the new student loan repayment plan

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect 3% of job postings, not companies, on Handshake contained keywords related to student debt.

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