More employers try to help workers pay student loans

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BY JOSEPH PISANI

Employers are discovering that making it easier for workers to pay off their student loans helps to attract and keep a happy workforce.

More and more companies are helping workers refinance their debts at better rates, giving employees extra cash for loan payments, or even paying their workers’ lenders directly. It’s a major benefit for millennials — people 35 and under — who are struggling to pay thousands of dollars in student debts as they enter the workforce.

“It’s actually helped me quite a lot,” says Christina Lin, a graphic designer who sliced her $3,800 in student loan debt in half within six months with help from her employer, ChowNow.

This is not as simple as it sounds: Many college graduates end up owing multiple lenders, and the tax implications can be complicated. Employers also want to make sure the money goes to the right place. This has created a niche for a handful of startups helping employers deliver the benefit.

Just 3 percent of employers helped workers repay student loans last year, according to a survey of more than 460 human resource managers conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.

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