This week, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) introduced the Rural Revitalization Now Act to provide up to $50,000 in student loan relief for people who commit to live and work in rural communities for at least eight years.

“Upstate New York is home to some of the best colleges in the world, but our towns and villages continue to see students move to metropolitan areas after graduation rather than build their lives in rural communities. A key component of that is the overly-burdensome student debt that forces young people to look for work elsewhere,” said Rep. Delgado. “Today, I’m introducing legislation focused on attracting and retaining young people in rural communities by providing student loan relief to those who work and live in rural areas experiencing population loss. The Rural Revitalization Now Act will help ease the burden of student loan debt and encourage folks to settle down, find employment, and raise a family here in upstate.”

The Rural Revitalization Now Act creates a program that would provide borrowers with student debt relief on their federal or private student loans if they live in a very rural area, a small or mid-sized community that is losing population, or a community that has been affected by a major disaster. The program would allow states, counties, localities, territories, Tribes, nonprofit entities, and qualifying partnerships to sponsor borrowers, in conjunction with the federal government, by providing student debt relief of up to $50,000 over eight years. Those sponsors would generally split the cost of debt forgiveness with the federal government, although the program is flexible and allows sponsors to bear less of the cost if needed.

To be eligible for student loan relief under the Rural Revitalization Now Act, a borrower must live in a qualifying area that meets certain requirements both individually and considered collectively with any other city or town that is adjacent to or closely associated with it. To be a qualifying area, a city or town must have:

Less than 20,000 people
Less than 100,000 people and have lost population over the last 10 years
Less than 150,000 people and have lost population over the last 10 years provided that the area receives recognition/approval by Departments of Commerce and Education based on potential economic benefit for the area.
Less than 300,000 people and have been included in a major disaster area within the last 5 years provided that the program receives recognition by the federal government as economically benefiting the area or supporting community recovery.

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