ROZ scholarship recipients ‘repay’ county through tax obligations
By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor
It’s a scholarship program that seems to be paying for itself.
Republic County Economic Development director Luke Mahin said the recipients of the 15 Rural Opportunity Zone scholarships funded by Republic County pay an average of $1,357 in property taxes–just $143 shy of the $1,500 per year Republic County contributes to their student loan repayment.
“I think we could assume they are paying at least $200 a year in sales tax in Republic County,” notes Republic County Commissioner Ed Splichal. Splichal added that under the proposed state aid formula for schools, the 29 children that ROZ recipients brought with them to Republic County would compute to $50,000 in additional school funding to local districts.
Mahin presented the results of his survey of ROZ recipients at the May 15 county commission meeting. He said that 13 more qualified ROZ candidates are on a waiting list.
Under the ROZ program, the state will match funding up to $1,500 for five years contributed by the county, employers, or recipients themselves to help repay student loans. Recipients must establish their own household in a qualifying county to get the benefit.
Republic County ROZ Applicant Snapshot 2017
Average age: 29
Employer: Education 8, Healthcare 8, Agriculture 7, Retail 3, Government 2, Financial 1, Manufacturing 1, Stay-at-home-Mother 1.
Average Annual Income $43,871
Average college debt: $35,790
64% own homes / 96% prefer to
65% would invest saved income from ROZ on housing
25% own a business / 38% are interested in having business
Average Rep. Co. property tax paid: $1,419
29 children associated with 31 ROZ applicants – 13 are school aged.
Mahin said budget woes on the state level has put into question whether Kansas will continue to provide the match. A bill introduced in the House would continue state funding for Rural Opportunity Zones at $1.62 million for fiscal year 2018 and at $2.05 million for fiscal year 2019.
However, Mahin said some Kansas counties are urging legislators to drop the ROZ program and return to the Rural Enterprise Zone program, which provided assistance to new and expanding businesses in the state.
Last year, commissioners decided to commit $22,500 to fund all qualified applicants on the list. The board will decide in coming weeks whether to fund more scholarships in 2018. Mahin said some counties fund one or two scholarships, other fund 25 or more.
New residents are qualified for the county match on a “first come, first serve” basis. However, the graduates can forego the wait list if they or their employer pay the local match. Mahin said Republic County Hospital has sponsored ROZ applicants, and several other individuals paid their own match to qualify for the state funds.
ROZ recipients also qualify for state income tax breaks for the five year period.
Invest in housing
Mahin said many of the 30 ROZ-qualified graduates who responded to his survey said they want to use the money they save on student loan debt to invest in a house or upgrading their current home.
“This is money that’s helping them put down roots here,” he said.Most are employed by outside employers, but several have their own side businesses they started after moving here, he said.
Learn more or apply for ROZ – www.kansascommerce.com/rural
### STUDENT LOAN DEBT IN US ###
Our team of analysts at ValuePenguin decided to dive into the data behind how much people across the country owed on their student loans. We discovered that the average outstanding balance of borrowers is currently $26,700 (New York Fed) while the median student loan debt amount is $14,400.
- Average student loan debt per borrower: $26,700
- Between 2004 and 2014, the US saw an almost 90% increase in the number of student loan borrowers, in addition to a nearly 80% uptick in average balance size
- The number of current student loan borrowers is about 9 million, down from its 2012 peak of 12 million.
- Half of student loan borrowers are under 25 years of age
The mean dollar amount of outstanding student loans per person in America is $26,700 according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel. This number is the most current data point available and was sourced in Q4 of 2015.
In aggregate terms, the total student loan debt outstanding in the country was $346 billion in 2004, and has ballooned to $1.23 trillion as of late 2015. This represents a more than 250% increase in total student loan debt in just over 10 years.
The figures in the chart below are in billions:
|Year||Total Balance||% Increase Since 2004|
Throughout the course of our research and analysis on student loan debt, we noticed several interesting differences when looking at data across varying demographics. Below we’ll explore these disparities and show you how the average student loan debt fluctuates amongst borrowers.
The average student loan debt varies widely across states. Data from The Institute for College Access & Success suggests that the average borrower from New Hampshire has $36,101 worth of student loan debt that still needs to be paid. This is the highest in the country. New Hampshire is followed by Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, as having the most student loan indebted citizens in the USA. Conversely, former students that reside in Utah and borrowed for school only have $18,873 left to payoff on their student loans – only half of the burden that those in New Hampshire are looking at. Rounding out the Top 5 states with the least indebted former students are New Mexico, California, Wyoming and Florida.
The table below shows the average student loan debt by state with their corresponding ranking. Additionally, we’re including the percentage of graduates in each state that have outstanding student loan debt.
|Rank||State||% with Debt||Average Debt|
|8||District Of Columbia||55%||$31,452|
Looking at the age group breakdowns from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, there are more borrowers under 30 years of age than there are in any other age bucket. Interestingly though from a percentage growth standpoint, the number of borrowers under 30 has not increased as much over the last 10 years as 30, 40, 50, and 60+ year olds have.