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Payback time

How student loan repayment became an employee benefit

When college graduates enter the workforce, they're increasingly bringing a boatload of student loans along with them. So along with 401ks and insurance benefits, some employers have started offering up options to cut students' massive debts, Bloomberg reports.

Across the U.S., 44.2 million people currently carry debt from a student loan, with a total value of $1.5 trillion, Forbes notes via the Federal Reserve statistics from 2018. That works out to an average of $37,172 in individual debt.

Employees at insurance company Unum Group average slightly less in loans, racking up an average of $32,000 each, Unum tells Bloomberg. So Unum devised a plan to give students an average of $1,200 per year toward loans in exchange for giving up five paid vacation days. Those payments can also go to parents if they're paying for a child's loans.

Of course, it doesn't hurt than employees at Unum get a minimum of 28 paid days off each year. That's "nearly double the 15 paid days the average U.S. worker gets, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics," Bloomberg writes. But not all of the nearly four percent of large companies with student loan repayment programs require employees give up vacation time. If employees put two percent of their wages toward their student loans, health care company Abbott matches five percent and deposits it into their 401k. Others simply match any payments employees make toward their student loans. Read more about them at Forbes.