Raimondo keeps her promise on loan forgiveness; not everyone will qualify
Her campaign pledge sounded like rich music to the ears of young college graduates swamped in student loan debt.
The gubernatorial candidate, Gina Raimondo, promised to create a student loan forgiveness program for graduates who agree to live and work in Rhode Island.
Raimondo's first budget as governor, which was signed into law in late June, creates such a program.
The "Wavemaker Fellowship" offers tax credits to graduates in certain fields, such as science, technology, engineering and math.
The budget includes $1.75 million for the program, which is the amount Raimondo requested earlier this year.
Legislation for the fellowship declares that "excessive student loan debt" is harming the state's economy, with many indebted graduates unable to launch businesses or buy homes and at risk of being forced to leave Rhode Island to find higher paying jobs elsewhere.
One rationale of the tax credit program, put forth in the legislation, is that it will help employers recruit and retain graduates for higher paying jobs. It is also intended to raise the skill level of the state's work force.
The fellowship program will be administered by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation.
Graduates can receive tax credit for the payments they make on their student loans for as many as four years under the final legislation, which incorporates proposals from state Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski, D-Providence, and state Sen. Ryan W. Pearson, D-Cumberland.
Those with postgraduate degrees can receive up to $6,000 in credits per year. The limit is up to $4,000 for those with bachelor's degrees and up to $1,000 for those with associate's degrees.
The law allows those who are eligible to collect the tax credits as they repay their loans, over a span that can be as long as four years.
To qualify, the person must be employed at least 35 hours per week by a Rhode Island-based employer and must be working in: life sciences, natural sciences or environmental sciences; computer information or software technology; advanced mathematics or finance; engineering, industrial design or a "commercially related" design field; or medical-device technology or medicine.
The loan forgiveness program does not apply to everyone, but it's a program that forgives student loans. Remember, credits are as good as cash at tax time.
We rate it a Promise Kept.
www.rilin.State.RI.US, "Amendment to General Laws in Chapter 42-64 entitled 'Rhode 4 Island Commerce Corporation,'" accessed Sept. 22, 2015
Interviews and emails, House Spokesman Larry Berman, Sept. 22, 2015
www.rilin.State.RI.US, news release, "With budget signing, Blazejewski, Pearson student loan tax credit enacted," accessed Sept. 22, 2015
Interview, Marie Aberger, spokeswoman for Governor Raimondo, Sept. 22, 2015