PwC to Assist Employees with Student Loans

Starting next year, PricewaterhouseCooper’s employees will receive $1,200 a year to help pay off student loan debt, according to numerous media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal.

The accounting and professional-services firm announced today that it plans to assume up to $7,200 in student debt for its U.S. employees. Starting next July, the company will pay up to $1,200 a year toward employees’ student loans for up to six years, according to Michael Fenlon, the firm’s global talent leader.

“This is an issue that is important to our people,” Mr. Fenlon said. “We certainly think it’s a beneficial attraction for top talent.”

Indeed, according to a July 2015 survey by iontuition, it asked 1,000 student-loan borrowers if they would like to work for a company that offers student-loan-repayment assistance, including matching contributions and loan-management tools. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed said yes, which could equate to 30 million Americans with student loan debt.

David Melancon, co-founder and CEO of New York-based btr., which measures companies’ performance beyond their balance sheet, says he is seeing more companies tailor their benefits to their employees’ priorities, needs and wants.

He says the PwC move “is about the optics for PwC — the cost of offering this benefit is small compared to increased visibility among the young, smart college graduates they are trying to recruit.”

Melancon says he was not surprised by financial-services firm’s move, given the climate of today’s job market.

“Companies know the best young candidates have student debt,” he says. “It would be easy to simply increase their salary [instead of offering a student-loan-repayment plan], but structuring it this way allows them to talk about the fact they care about the same things employees care about.”

He envisions more organizations pulling the same lever in order to reach the best candidates they need.

“For all the concern in the news today about the fact that people need work, the truth is companies need workers, too,” he says. “You’re going to see more companies tailoring their benefits packages to the groups they’re trying to recruit.”

After all, he says, the HR department “is one of those places where you need to see more innovative thinking. The HR departments of old were simply order-takers. The HR departments of the future need to be more innovative and think of new ways to attract employees.”