Patterson Proposal Aims To Keep STEM Grads Working In Ohio
New legislation will strengthen high-tech workforce development, prevent "brain drain"

State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) introduced legislation last week to create the STEM Degree Loan Program, a state-level loan repayment plan aimed at keeping graduates working in Ohio after earning degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

“Every year, college graduates with high-tech degrees flock to places like Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle in North Carolina, or tech hubs in New England and Texas,” said Patterson. “Ohio must do better at attracting companies and keeping good-paying jobs here. This bill is an important step in preventing ‘brain drain’ and positioning our state to compete in the 21st century economy.”

Under House Bill (HB) 549, semi-annual payments would be made directly to a qualified graduate’s loan company as long as they maintain eligibility and continue to carry debt from their student loans. The level of degree earned would determine the amount a graduate is eligible to receive, with those earning an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree receiving $2,000, $4,000, or $8,000, respectively, each year.

The STEM Degree Loan Program would be administered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, which would determine eligibility based on the subject matter and type of degree each individual received. Qualified graduates must be employed by an Ohio company and work in a STEM field.

“Employers pick states with an able workforce, and workers pick states that offer good-paying, living-wage jobs. This legislation is squarely focused on the link between education and economic development,” continued Patterson. “This program will benefit our students, our business community, and our state. Incentivizing STEM graduates to stay and work in Ohio will help ensure that our state has the human capital necessary to compete and succeed in the economy of the future.”

Should HB 549 become law, the state would begin accepting applications on July 1, 2017 and the first round of payments to successful applicants would be disbursed on October 31, 2017. The state would then conduct two application periods each year, with deadlines in December and June.

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