Utah wants to hold on to its college graduates; new bill offers loan forgiveness to grads who choose to stay in Utah

Utah may be willing to put its money where its mouth is to keep college graduates from leaving the state — in the form of a newly proposed bill that would offer loans with a forgiveness plan to students who committed to work here after graduation.

SB104 would offer loans covering tuition, fees and books to full-time students who entered into job programs that align with Utah’s workforce needs. Then, for every year a recipient worked in-state, 25 percent of their debt would be forgiven.

Students who didn’t graduate or left Utah for work would have to pay back the loan in full.

“We are a net exporter of our baccalaureate degree students and some of our best and brightest talent is not staying in Silicon Slopes. They are going to Silicon Valley [California] and other places,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ann Millner. “We need to provide an incentive to keep them here.”

SB104 already won a green light from the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee and was pitched Wednesday to the corresponding budget panel.

Modeled after the T.H. Bell program that offers similar loan forgiveness to teachers who stay in the state, the bill would accommodate around 500 students and cost $2.6 million as well as a recurring administrative expense of $150,000.

With the program, Millner, a Weber State University professor and former school president, said the state would be able to continue “building our pipeline of students” without them building too much debt.

Support for the bill extends to the business community, said Vance Checketts, vice president and general manager for Dell EMC.

“We have the jobs. We simply need the incentive to give people another reason to look [at Utah],” said Checketts. “We want people to recognize that the Silicon Slopes phenomenon is a real thing.”


Create a targeted loan forgiveness plan for college students entering programs aligned with Utah's workforce needs and committed to work in state after graduation. - Read full text

Current Status:

Filed Law Introduced in Senate Senate Committee Senate passage House Committee House passage Governor's OK