American workers have a record amount of student debt — and they'd rather have it gone before going on vacation.
For people with student loan debt who were looking for a job, 63% said they would give up paid time off in exchange for help paying off student loan debt, according to a new survey by job-listing site ZipRecruiter provided exclusively to Business Insider. The survey polled 10,500 active job seekers in the US on SurveyMonkey in July 2019.
The average amount of vacation time people would give up in exchange for student debt relief was 2.3 months, but nearly a quarter of surveyed workers would give up five months of paid time off for help with loans.
While only one-tenth of job postings on ZipRecruiter advertise help paying off employee student debt, the company told Business Insider this perk is increasing in popularity. Major companies like Fidelity, Aetna, and Penguin Random House now have some sort of student debt relief program for employees.
"The big picture is that student loan debt puts an enormous pressure on job seekers," Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told Business Insider.
Paying off student debt is one of the biggest challenges American workers face
Today, the average student debt per graduating student in 2018 who took out loans is $29,800, and the national student loan debt total now exceeds $1.5 million, according to Student Loan Hero.
Student loan debt is so crippling that it's leading some borrowers to file for bankruptcy. And as many as 40% of borrowers could default on their student loans by 2023, according to the 2018 Brookings Institution report.
It's even harder to pay off when coupled with the financial fallout from the Great Recession and rising living costs. It's one of the key drivers causing millennials to delay traditional life milestones like buying a home and having kids.
"I feel like buying a house is a total pipe dream at this point in my life," a water-resources engineer who graduated from a public university with roughly $25,000 in debt previously told Business Insider.
The burden is so stressful that nearly half of indebted millennials think college wasn't worth the student loans, according to an Insider and Morning Consult survey.
But while getting your boss to help pay off your student loans sounds nice, it may not be wise to give up your vacation time for it. The average monthly student loan payment for grads is $393, while the median weekly salary for full-time workers is $908 — meaning giving up a week of vacation for one student loan payment loses you money.
"We would highly encourage job seekers to make sure it's a fair trade," Pollak said. "We would encourage workers to think very carefully about the numbers or do whatever they can to consolidate their loans or look into cheaper consolidation options before giving up valuable benefits."