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Student Loans

Debt Relief for New Grads

Struggling locales offer debt relief.

By the time Patrick and Amber Patterson graduated from Fort Hays State University, in Hays, Kan., last year, they’d racked up $42,000 in student loans. The couple wanted to move back to their hometown of Phillipsburg, Kan. (population 2,520), but didn’t know if it made economic sense.

See Also: 9 Programs to Reduce Your Student-Loan Debt

Then a friend told them about the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program. In exchange for moving to one of 54 rural counties in Kansas, including Phillips County, recent college grads receive up to $3,000 per year (for a maximum of five years) to help pay back loans. The program will shave five years off the Pattersons’ loans.

Other struggling regions are following suit. Niagara Falls, N.Y., gives nearly $7,000 over two years to a limited number of grads who live there; New Jersey lawmakers are mulling a similar bill for Trenton, Camden and Jersey City.

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