What if you could move to a new city that would hand you cash to pay down your student loans? Well, that’s a reality in some cities around the U.S.
Don’t expect to find these programs in popular cities like Boston, Chicago, or Atlanta. Look toward smaller towns in the middle of the country, like Kansas’ Opportunity Zones program. The state created an initiative where college graduates get tax breaks and up to $15,000 in student loan repayments in exchange for settling in certain areas, reported the Guardian. The program paid out $1.2 million in student loan repayments last year alone and covers some 77 counties across the state.
These programs are meant to attract millennials to areas that have faced declining populations and perhaps tenuous economic prospects. They’ve in turn attracted a fair number of young people who are looking for ways to ease the student loan debt burden. More than 40 million Americans have some type of student debt, totaling more than $1.3 trillion in the U.S. And the most recent class of 2015 is the most indebted so far with an average of $35,000 in student debt.
Kansas isn’t the only area offering such a deal. Niagara Falls, N.Y. also has a similar program available to college graduates that pays participants about $3,500 a year for two years. However, the program is much smaller and the city only accepts a limited number of young people who apply each year. Niagara Falls said it has funding for only 20 participants and 14 young people have taken part since 2013, according to the Guardian. Four more are expected to be chosen this year.
Other cities are going beyond student loan payments, giving millennials a chance at affordable home ownership.
Chattanooga, Tenn. is launching a program called “Geek Move” specifically aimed at attracting computer programers to its southern city. The idea is to incentivize talented young technologists to move to the area with money, as much as $11,250 in total. That money isn’t dedicated to student loan payments but can be used for relocation expenses and towards buying a home in the area to help spur on local revitalization.
Detroit also started a similar program called Live Downtown in 2011 to attract young talent to its downtown district, offering $20,000 for a down payment or $3,500 over two years for rental costs. The bankrupt city is hoping the new residents will help bring a much needed fresh start to the heart of Motor City.