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An act establishing an education loan repayment program for human services workers

Bill No: S.42 | H.116 | Read the Bill

Bill Sponsor: Sen. Jennifer Flanagan and Rep. Jeffrey Roy

Purpose of the Bill

This bill would create an education loan repayment program for direct care workers. To be eligible, workers must be working a minimum of 35 hours per week, must have an individual income of no more than $45,000 per year and must have maintained 12 consecutive months of employment in the sector. The program would allow workers to receive up to $150/month – or up to $1,800 per year – for a period not to exceed 48 months – or four years – to repay a qualified education loan that was used to attend an institution of higher learning.

Key Facts:
  • Many human services workers’ salaries start at just $12 an hour – some make even less.
  • The lack of affordable higher education for human services workers and the burden of student debt greatly contribute to the sector’s recruitment and retention difficulties.
  • According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 68 percent of seniors graduating from public and nonprofit colleges in 2015 had student loan debt with an average of more than $30,000 per borrower. Massachusetts is higher than the national average at $31,466 of debt per borrower.
  • A survey from the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute shows 75 percent of human services employers expect it to become increasingly difficult to fill job vacancies over the next three years.
If passed, this legislation would:
  • Amend Section 16 of Chapter 6A to create a student loan repayment program for low-paid human service workers.
  • Help organizations retain human services workers by having the state repay qualified education loans at a rate not to exceed $150/month for a period not to exceed 48 months. Payments will be made directly to the lender and only during months the participant is working 35+ hours per week as a human services worker in Massachusetts.
  • Assist human services organizations in the recruitment and retention of human service workers, defined as individuals who provide services by supporting individuals’ and families’ efforts to function in daily living situations.
  • Pay back qualified education loans, meaning any indebtedness – including interest – to pay tuition or other direct expenses incurred in connection with the pursuit of a certificate, undergraduate or graduate degree by an applicant.
  • Direct EOHHS to administer the program in accordance with Dept. of Ed. guidelines.

For more information: Email Bill Yelenak or call 617.428.3637 x122.