Student loan debt is toppling $1.3 trillion in the United States, according to Marketwatch's dandy National Student Loan Debt Clock. Over 40 million Americans are saddled by this pesky debt, and it's even more harmful for millennial women since they comprise the bulk of the college population and are 53% more likely than men to have a student loan payment they can't afford, according to the American Association of University Women.
Thankfully, Congress proposed a tax code expansion that would incentivize employers to include student loan reimbursement in benefits packages.
Bloomberg is reporting that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have proposed "student loan assistant acts" that would let employers reimburse up to $5,250 of their workers student loan debts — untaxed.
A 2015 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that only 3% of companies surveyed are reimbursing loans for workers.
"Student loan repayment would be a very attractive benefit that employers could offer," Kathleen Coulombe, an advisor at SHRM told Bloomberg. She anticipates that the number of companies offering this package would go up if the bills are signed into law.
Easing student loan stress is a priority for students graduating and entering the workforce, according to a February survey conducted by Beyond, a professional networking site. The survey that 89% of workers are seeking jobs that offer reimbursement plans while 10% value this benefit more than paid vacation.
That's the reason Virginia's Democratic senator, Mark R. Warner, introduced the bipartisan bill.
"The burdens of student debt have a ripple effect on our entire economy. It prevents young people from taking a risk, launching a new business, or committing to a period of pro bono or public service," Warner said in a January press release. “And it causes struggling graduates to delay choices such as buying a home and starting a family. We have to do more to rein in the exploding cost of a college degree."
Asking companies to bear the brunt of this financial burden is a step toward economic freedom for a number of millennials, but don't expect relief anytime soon. Coulombe told Bloomberg that the bill's co-sponsors don't believe the bill will pass during an election year.
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