The U.S. has a student loan debt crisis. And employers are paying the price.
Over 44 million Americans are carrying a total of $1.48 trillion in student loans. Forty percent of adults under 30 and 16 percent of adults overall live with outstanding student loan debt, according to the federal reserve’s 2017 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking.
Chances are, your employees are among those affected. Employees facing significant student loan debt are more likely to defer saving for retirement, buying a home, getting married and having children. They’re also more likely to seek out a second full-time or part-time job to cover their expenses. As a result, their concentration, productivity and overall physical health suffers from the accumulated financial stress.
The financial cost of higher education is only increasing with time, matriculating well-educated, inexperienced and deeply indebted graduates into the workforce. In this two-part series, we offer you 10 things you should know about how student loan debt affects your employees:
1. Student loan debt is the second-biggest type of personal debt in the United States.
Student loans are one of the largest contributors to overall household debt among Americans, second only to mortgage debt. While the overwhelming majority of those loans are federally held, there has been an increase in borrowing from private lenders. Private student loans are ineligible for loan forgiveness programs or income-based repayment programs, complicating repayment plans and decisions on where (and how) to seek debt relief.
2. The amount of student loan debt Americans owe is getting worse with time.
In February of 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that student loan debt had grown for the 18th consecutive year and that the amount borrowed doubled in the last eight years, reaching a total more than $1.48 trillion owed. Not only are more students are taking loans for higher amounts but they are paying them back at a slower pace than in the past.
3. Student loan debt is affecting your workforce.
Sixty-eight percent of all new college graduates have student debt. Even if your employees don’t have significant amounts of student debt themselves (which is a relative assessment), they’re likely to have friends or relatives who do. Student loan repayment plans average at $351 per month and that number isn’t going down any time soon. It’s important to note that the average annual US salary for 24 to 35 year olds is $39,000. Student loan repayments are killing your employees’ financial wellness and are averaging nearly 10 percent of their income, replacing retirement contributions, mortgage payments and possibly even monthly health insurance costs.
4. The average debt per student has risen to nearly $30,000.
One fifth of graduated student loan recipients aged 25-39 take on extra employment in order to make payments on their student loan debt. Employees working a second job can mean lower productivity while at work and a difficulty in maintaining a reliable work schedule. Overworked employees are also more likely to experience fatigue and burnout from the added stress of juggling multiple jobs – as well as the stress from their student loan debt.
5. The average interest rate per student loan is approximately 5 percent, meaning your employees actually end up paying back significantly more than what they borrowed.
The interest rate paid by a loan recipient is dependent upon which type of loan and repayment plan that they have been given. For federal loans, the current amount for direct subsidized and unsubsidized (the type provided to undergraduates) loans is 4.45 percent. At the graduate level, the interest rate is 6 percent. For people 60 and over who take out loans to help younger relatives, the rate is 7 percent. Private student loans carry interest rates averaging 9 to 12 percent. Depending on the repayment or consolidation plans, these high interest rates can quickly inflate the initial amount of the loan and add tens of thousands of dollars to what an individual is trying to repay. And, interest and late fees are paid before any monthly payments are applied to the original loan amount.
And there’s even more you need to know. To learn more about student loan debt and your employees, be sure to read Part Two of this article here.