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Google is going to start helping its employees pay off their student loans, the company announced Thursday.
Beginning in 2021, Google will match up to $2,500 in loan payments per employee each year, beginning with US employees and expanding to its global workforce in the future. According to CNBC, the program will only be available to full-time employees, not contractors or temporary workers.
Google said the goal of the program is to help employees pay off their loans more quickly so they can save for retirement, start a family, or buy a home.
As Google noted in its blog post, the burden of high student loan debt is more prevalent in the US than in other countries. Total student loan debt in the US has surpassed $1.5 trillion, with people from marginalized groups typically taking on more student loan debt than other borrowers.
The issue disproportionately affects Black borrowers, who are more likely to have to take out loans, owe more upon graduation, and earn less than their white peers after graduating, making it hard to pay the loans off. Eliminating more student loan debt would help narrow wealth gaps between Black and white families, according to analysis by the liberal think tank the Roosevelt Institute.
John Casey, Google's director of Global Benefits, told employees in an email that two of the company's employee resource groups, Black Googler Network and Black Leadership Advisory Group, helped the company institute the new student loan program, CNBC reports.
The new program is one of a few new benefits Google has added over the last six months as employees continue working from home. While Google is known for its generous employee perks, like onsite wellness services, free snacks, and financial advisers, it's had to add new benefits to support a remote workforce. In April, Google added eight extra week to its carers leave policy, which now allows employees to take up to 14 weeks a year to care for family members. And in May, Google supplied employees with a $1,000 allowance to set up a home office.
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