The Ohio Attorney General’s office reports more than 60 percent of college students in Ohio graduate with roughly $30,000 in student loan debt, but some neighborhoods here in the Buckeye State are offering some solutions to help combat the debt dilemma.
One of those communities includes Northeast Ohio's Newburgh Heights.
- College graduates can receive up to $50,000.
- Must buy a home in Newburgh Heights.
- 80 percent is paid out after 10 years.
While Mayor Trevor Elkins is quick to tout some of his village's biggest selling points -- including close proximity to highways and public transit options -- he admits it can be a struggle to get people to invest and buy homes for the long haul.
So now, the village of roughly 2,000 residents is offering a program to attract new homeowners.
Recent degree recipients are eligible to receive a grant over a period of ten to fifteen years if they buy a home in the village.
“You get 50 percent of your student loans up to $50,000," Elkins explained. "$40,000 in student debt, you’ll get a $20,000 grant. Eighty percent of that is paid out after 10 years, the other 20 percent is paid out after 15 years. So if you have a $100,000 loan, you’ll get $50,000, so in essence we’re essentially having you move to Newburgh Heights and paying for your house if you buy a house that’s $50,000.”
The village’s council approved the measure earlier this month, which covers new or existing single family homes valued at $50,000 or more.
Elkins said the program will ultimately pay for itself.
“Because we have a local income tax and property taxes, when somebody buys a house and they live in that house, they are paying into the system," he said. "So over a period of time, they’ve paid what we’ll give them on the backend.”
Newburgh Heights isn’t the only Ohio community offering a deal for degree holders.
Earlier this year, Hamilton, in southwest Ohio, began offering a $5,000 “reverse scholarship” to recent grads for living in or around the southwestern city’s downtown area.
It’s a move aimed at bringing new talent to the area.
“Everyone that we’ve awarded the scholarship to has been very enthusiastic about it," said Jacob Stone, public communication specialist with the city. "A lot of them may have already had plans to live here, but a lot of them also may have only considered living here because of the scholarship."
It’s that enthusiasm that Elkins said he hopes to bring to his village, too.
“New homeowners tend to really invest in their community, they become active in athletic programs, they become active in civic organizations, in their churches," he said. "They really create an energy that a slightly older community kind of loses after time, particularly after their children have moved on and moved out of the community.”
Elkins said the village has already received hundreds of calls from interested prospective buyers nationwide.
Newburgh Heights' program officially becomes law on January 4.
Applications to enroll will be available later this spring.