For Immediate Release
June 18, 2019

From Student Loan Repayment to Tuition Reimbursement—Trends in Educational Benefits

Nearly a Quarter of Employers are Considering Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Brookfield, Wisconsin—Record high college tuition paired with a tight labor market has caused employers across the U.S. to take a closer look at their education benefit offerings. From long-standing benefits like tuition reimbursement to emerging trends like student loan repayment, organizations are investing in education to help attract and retain employees.

According to a new survey report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Education Benefits: 2019 Survey Results, more than nine in ten U.S. organizations (92%) offer some sort of educational benefit. Of those offering benefits, the most common include:

  • Tuition assistance/reimbursement (63%)
  • In-house training seminars (61%)
  • Attendance at educational conferences (51%)
  • Continuing education courses (50%)
  • Coverage for licensing courses and exams (44%)
  • Personal development courses (35%)
  • 529 college savings plans (10%).

Long-Standing Tuition Assistance/Reimbursement Programs Prove a Win-Win for Employers

More than one-half (57%) of organizations have had tuition reimbursement programs in place between six and 20 years, while another 27% have had programs in place for 21 years or more.

Organizations use different techniques for reimbursing student employees. The large majority (87%) reimburse after the end of study if employees meet certain requirements. The most prevalent reimbursement amount to employees is $5,000-$5,999. More than half of organizations (57%) have a payback requirement, and of those that do, 54% require one year of employment after obtaining his or her education.

"Only 1% to 5% of employees take advantage of tuition reimbursement provided by their employer. This means, big picture, offering educational assistance isn't a huge financial commitment for organizations in comparison to other types of benefit offerings," said Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President of Content at the International Foundation. "Tuition reimbursement helps to attract and retain all employees—especially younger ones who appreciate the opportunity to grow in their careers."

Nearly a Quarter of Employers Are Considering Student Loan Repayment Benefits

Only 4% of responding organizations offer some sort of student loan repayment assistance benefit. Two percent are in the process of implementing a program and almost one quarter (23%) are considering implementing a program in the future—evidence that this is a growing benefit on the radar for many organizations.

The top five barriers causing organizations to hold back on offering student loan repayment benefits are: the high cost, uncertainty and complexity of implementation; resentment among employees who have already paid off their student loans; resentment among employees who have ineligible loan debt; and employee turnover after requirements for repayment have been met.

Organizations are most likely to offer student loan repayment in order to attract future talent, retain current employees, maintain or increase employee satisfaction and loyalty, keep employees current on evolving skill sets required for their role and maintain or increase innovation.

"Student loan repayment is a very new benefit offering. Its short lifespan makes it difficult to measure success or anticipate a possible ROI," said Stich. "With high interest from employees and no firm governmental guidelines in place, it's something to watch closely in the future."

For more information, or to access a copy of Education Benefits: 2019 Survey Results, visit



The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 31,500 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit

Brenda Hofmann
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans | (262) 373-7756