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When a student graduates from college, it's an exciting time. Job prospects and career opportunities abound – but so does the student debt. While taking out loans to pay for school is nothing new – indeed, college-goers have been doing so for decades now – the student debt situation in the U.S. is reaching critical mass.

Savvy employers understand that heavily indebted graduates isn't an isolated problem. After all, these graduates are the ones who are going to be filling positions at businesses, and executives and managers need to ensure that their new hires are able to handle the professional challenges that await them. This can be considerably difficult to do under the looming reality of outstanding loan debt.

These forward-thinking employers have started devising programs to actually help graduates pay down their debt. It may sound crazy, but here are some reasons why you should consider it as well.

Student debt is higher than it's ever been
Millennials bring unique skills, a desire to do good work and an important technological expertise to the workplace. But that's not all they're bringing. Student debt is worse today than it's ever been, according to the Wall Street Journal. In fact, loan debt seems to be ballooning across multiple axes. Not only is the average amount of a given student's debt increasing – breaking the $35,000 mark in 2015, the Journal reported – but the number of students who accrue debt throughout college is also on the rise. The source indicated that as of 2015, more than 70 percent of students who go through higher education rack up some kind of debt.

There is currently an overall student debt of $1.3 trillion in the U.S., according to Human Resource Executive Online.

Where do companies come in?
You may think the idea of a company offering to help employees pay down student debt is nuts, but it's not that much different from services many employers already offer, such as 401(k) plans. In fact, HRE Online cited two different companies founded with the express purpose of working with companies to offer such programs to younger staff members.

"You may see companies offering young employees an option: Here's a loan-assistance program you can opt into and, when you're done with that, you can switch over to the defined-contribution plan," Tim DeMello, CEO and founder of Gradifi, a company that helps businesses set up such plans, told HRE Online. "The best return-on-investment for a 22-year-old is to get rid of their student loan first — that will help their FICO score."

If you want to provide similar benefits for your employees but don't know where to start, PEO companies can help. Contact an HR outsourcing firm today for tips and expert HR solutions.