Small Towns Offering to Pay Student Loans
From rural Kansas to upstate New York — communities worried about their aging and shrinking populations are trying anything they can to attract young professionals and get them to move there. Some are even offering to pay off all or part of their student loans.
Niagara Falls, NY is one of the latest towns to try this tactic. 50 years ago Niagara Falls’ population was 100,000. Today it’s only half that. “We’ve lost a lot of talent, a lot of brain power,” admits Seth Piccirillo, Niagara Falls’ new director of community development.
After laying awake nights looking for ways to attract young people, Piccirillo says they’ve hit on the idea of offering to pay their student loans.
The city is putting an initial $200,000 behind the idea. The first applications should arrive in the next couple of months, says Piccirillo, but “The graduating class of 2013 will be our first real swing at it.”
Kansas has launched a similar program to lure new full time residents. Fifty rural Kansas counties have been authorized to offer a five year exemption from state income taxes or student loan repayments up to $15,000, or both. So far this is working so well in Kansas that neighboring Nebraska is thinking of doing it.
Such a deal. Who could resist that?
What do you think? Over the decades, thousands of Lufkin kids have graduated high school and moved away for good, looking for better opportunities.
The Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce already does plenty to attract retirees, but should it be doing more to court young people? Would it be worthwhile to lure young professionals by offering to help them repay their student loans?
This sounds like a good idea, but there’s a downside. Getting a student loan paid off would lure some young graduates here, but would they stay? Some or many of them would probably move away when the loan is paid off.