PwC in United States said said Tuesday it will help its junior employees pay down their student loans next year. Commencing in July 2016, all of PwC’s associates and senior associates, nearly half of the companies 46,000 employees will be eligible to receive up to $1,200 a year for a maximum of six years to go towards their student loans. The benefit will be paid directly to the student loan provider, though it will still count as income for tax purposes.

This is a welcome move in the US where outstanding student loan debt is currently estimated to be in excess of $1.3 trillion. The PwC stipend could cover approx. a quarter of the average US student loan load of $28,400 — with no repayment or other contract obligation.

We haven’t heard of other accounting firms offering this as a benefit so we reached out to human resources experts who advised us that;

Student loan repayment benefits are rare in the United States, to our knowledge they are only implemented selectively in teaching, nursing and a handful of Law Firms. We estimate that less than 2 percent of employees enjoy such benefits.

According to Michael Fenlon, global talent director for PwC.

Student loan debt impacts the ability to save for retirement, so it has lots of secondary impact as well. We saw this as a way to provide leadership on a major societal issue, as well as something that’s really important to our people.

Our thoughts, firstly – Hat-Tip to PwC this is a bold step in the right direction. Secondly, in an increasingly competitive market for accounting talent we would expect to see other firms to introduce similar benefits in the not so distant future.