SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Targeted Student Loan Forgiveness Act.
SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
To alleviate the burden of student loan debt and attract qualified workers to parts of STATE experiencing population loss or a shortage of skilled workers
SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):
(a) To be eligible for a loan forgiveness award under this section, an applicant shall:
- (i) have graduated from high school or obtained a high school equivalency diploma;
- (ii) have graduated and obtained an undergraduate degree from a college or university and apply for this program within five years of obtaining such degree;
- (iii) be a participant in a federal income-driven repayment plan;
- (iv) reside and work in [STATE], if employed; and
- (v) meet all requirements described in part (b) below.
(b) By January 1 each year, DEPARTMENT shall publish a list of counties and localities in STATE where residents shall be eligible for this program. The list shall include criteria designated by the legislature as a prerequisite for eligibility. The criteria used to determine eligibility may include:
- (i) [residing in a county that experienced a seven year net population decline over the closest prior seven year period for which information is available;]
- (ii) [residing in a county that experienced the highest net population loss in STATE over the most recent ten year period for which information is available;]
- (iii) [entering into a high-need field designated by the legislature, including but not limited to teaching, nursing, dentistry or primary care in rural or underserved communities, or other fields experiencing a shortage of qualified applicants;]
- (iv) [any reasonable qualification the legislature deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of this bill.]
(c) DEPARTMENT shall assist counties to publicize this program to potential applicants.
(d) An applicant whose annual income is less than fifty thousand dollars shall be eligible to receive an award equal to one hundred percent of his or her monthly federal income-driven repayment plan payments for [twenty-four months] of repayment under the federal program. Provided, however, that the awards granted under this section shall be deferred for a recipient who has been granted a deferment or forbearance under the federal income-driven repayment plan. Upon completion of such deferment or forbearance period, such recipient shall be eligible to receive an award for the remaining time period under this subdivision.
- (i) A recipient who is not a resident of an eligible county or locality or otherwise does not meet the eligibility criteria established under (b) above at the time a payment is made under this section shall be required to refund such payments to the state. The corporation shall be authorized to recover such payments in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the corporation.
- (ii) An applicant who is delinquent or in default on a student loan made under any STATE or federal education loan program or has failed to comply with the terms of a service condition imposed by an award made pursuant to this article or has failed to repay an award shall be ineligible to receive an award under this program until such delinquency, default or failure is cured.
(e) DEPARTMENT is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations, and may promulgate emergency regulations necessary for the implementation of the provisions of this section.