ROZ Program Expands to 23 Counties

Stars represent counties that have signed-on for the Student Loan Repayment Program.

The Kansas Department of Commerce has added 23 counties to the Rural Opportunity Zone program.

The surrounding counties of  Jewell, Cloud,Washington, Mitchell, Clay, and Republic have already been certified in 2011 years by Kansas Legislature as Rural Opportunity Zone counties.

Nearby Marshall and Ottawa counties were added this year in an announcement today.

The Rural Opportunity Zone program was established in 2011 as a means of countering the state’s rural flight that has caused many Kansas counties to lose population over the past several decades and now includes 73 out of the state’s 105 counties.

The program allows qualifying individuals who move to a county in the Zone a chance to have their state income taxes waived for up to five years. In addition, counties that opt to partner with the state may offer student loan repayments of up to $15,000.

For more information on the Rural Opportunity Zone program, visit

Employer Sponsorships

Another notable change in the ROZ program is that the Student Loan Repayment portion now allows an employer in a ROZ county to sponsor an employee in the Student Loan Repayment program. This allows applicants to avoid being placed in a waiting line for the incentive. The employer will agree to pay for the county’s portion, $1,500 per year, in to the state over 5 years matched by the state of Kansas.

Employer Sponsorship FAQFAQs on ROZ Expansion

ROZ GuidelinesGuidelines Final FY2014

How the ROZ process works on state and local levelROZ Process Flowchart

Local Funding Initiatives

ROZ counties have also been encourage to leverage local partners in raising funds to build their funds going towards the ROZ Student Loan Repayment Program. Many counties have not funded all applicants because their budget hasn’t allow them to. If you would like to learn how your ROZ county can partner with a foundation or non-profit click the link to read the document – ROZ Local Funding Initiative Guidelines.

To find more information regarding the Republic County’s ROZ Program visit

Questions? Contact Luke Mahin – 785-374-3047 or email