© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Will New York's new student loan assistance program get more college grads to stay in state?

JECO photo
via Flickr

College graduation season is nearing and along with finding a job, student debt is also on grad’s minds. One program New York is hoping will help and keep those grads in the state.

Upstate New York is known for its idyllic college campuses, but its towns and cities struggle to keep those young people around once they graduate, as they’re drawn away by jobs and more trendy cities.

In an effort to keep more of those educated young people in the state, New York is starting a debt assistance program. Get on Your Feet, as it’s called, has its catches. Graduates must be New York residents and attend a state-run SUNY school. If they stay in the state for two years after graduation, the state will cover loan payments during that time.

It should be noted most students end up in 10 or 20 year repayment plans.

Mark Hill, financial aid director at SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry says with most SUNY students racking up $22,500 in debt, two years of assistance still helps.

"This is an opportunity for them to more easily manage their loan debt right after they get out of school," Hill said. "And I think that can be important because that’s the hardest time when graduates are looking for jobs and if it’s a debt they don’t have to worry about right away, I think that can be a big advantage for them."

But are students willing to stay in New York for a few years as a trade for the debt reduction? Richard Rich is an ESF sophomore who was more playing solitaire on the campus quad on a sunny day, not thinking much about debt. But he says it will definitely be part of the job decision process.

"If I have to choose between two equal jobs, one here and one someone else and that goes into it, then I would definitely pick the one here," he said. "That’s definitely a helpful thing."

Another student, sophomore Shannon Cellan, doesn’t have much interest in staying after graduation, but less debt is appealing. "If I get a better paying job somewhere else, I’ll probably take it, but then all that debt I need to pay back. So it’s quite a bit of commitment for the money," she said while during her homework.

New York estimates more than 7,000 people will enroll during the programs first year. And in five years, the number of grads using the program is supposed to triple.