In the United States, the student loan debt situation is as bad as it has ever been. In fact, “situation” might not even be the proper way to describe student loan debt in this country at this point.

“Crisis” may be more appropriate.owers in the U.S. that collectively owe $1.6 trillion; that total figure makes loan debt the second highest class of consumer debt in the nation, trailing only mortgage debt.

There are 45 million student loan borrAccording to LendEDU’s fourth annual Student Loan Debt by School by State report, the average student debt per borrower figure currently sits at $28,565. For many young Americans, this is a figure that will be getting repaid well into their thirties.

Ultimately, a large swathe of Americans, many of them young and eager to join the working world, will be hampered by student loan debt and are bound to face uphill battles when trying to hit other financial milestones, like buying a house or getting married and starting a family.

To make matters worse, many of these young adults are quite bullish on their starting salaries.

A recent report published by LendEDU illustrated a considerable discrepancy between what young Americans expect to make out of college versus what they actually make. When over 7,000 college students were asked to answer what they expect their starting salary to be, the median answer was $60,000.

However, the same report indicated that the real median starting salary is $48,400, which means the typical young adult will only make about 81% of what they anticipate.

Each year, many college graduates who are looking to aggressively pay down student loan debt thanks to a new cushy salary will be severely disappointed when they realize what they actually will be making. In reality, many will struggle to afford general living expenses while also meeting monthly student payments and still having some disposable income on the side.

Employers looking to hire the best and brightest young talent should take notice of this trend, especially when overlayed with some interesting data regarding student loan employee benefits.

Using data collected from 1,000 current student loan borrowers that have graduated from a four-year college or university, another LendEDU report depicted the strong attraction that young adults have towards loan benefits.

For example, when asked about the level of importance they would place on a potential employer offering student loan repayment benefits for a job they are considering, a combined 71.4% of student loan borrowers answered either “very important” or “somewhat important.”

Further, a combined 58.3% of respondents answered either “very important” or “somewhat important” when asked how important a student loan repayment benefit is to them when deciding whether or not to remain at their current job.

And finally, 58.4% of graduates with student loan debt said they would prefer a student loan repayment benefit from their employer as opposed to additional vacation days.

Using this data and understanding the current loan debt climate that we live in, employers can capitalize by offering a student loan repayment benefit and subsequently reeling in the top, young talent.

If the desired starting salaries are not going to be there for most recent graduates, the student loan repayment benefits can be. Plus, if an employer contributes an extra two or three hundred dollars each month (or matches the employee’s monthly payment) to an employee’s student loan debt balance, it can essentially be looked at as additional income for the employee.

Today, many college graduates are facing a loan debt burden far greater than their predecessors ever dealt with; employers should seize this opportunity to not only attract the most talented to their organizations, but to also lend a hand to so many young Americans that just want to advance their life past student loan debt commitments.

In his role at LendEDU, Mike uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike’s work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions. @goLendEDU

Loan stock photo by pogonici/Shutterstock