An act relative to a loan repayment program for human service workers

Bill Sponsor

Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Jeffrey Roy

Bill Status

Bills filed in the House and Senate in January 2023.

Purpose of the Bill

This bill would provide student loan repayment to human services workers who provide essential services to one-in-ten state residents. To be eligible, workers must be working at least 35 hours per week and have maintained 12 consecutive months of employment in the sector. Applicants would be eligible for up to $6,000 to repay their qualified education loans if they have an associate degree, up to $20,000 if they have a bachelor’s degree and up to $30,000 if they have a master’s degree.

Key Facts:

  • Many human services workers’ salaries start between $17 and $19 an hour. MIT calculations show that a living wage for a childless individual in Massachusetts is nearly $22 an hour.
  • 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, 56 percent of college graduates in Massachusetts had student loan debt in 2019-2020 with an average of $33,457 per person, placing the state eighth highest nationally on the institute’s measure.
  • According to a 2022 report published by the Education Data Initiative, nearly 13 percent of Massachusetts residents – more than one in eight – have some student loan debt.
  • More than 75 percent of human service workers have attended some college or have a degree.

If passed, this legislation would:

  • Amend Section 16 of Chapter 6A to create a student loan repayment program for human service workers who have maintained 12 consecutive months of employment in their roles at a minimum of 35 hours per week and hold certificates or undergraduate/graduate degrees.
  • Help organizations recruit and retain human services workers by having the state repay qualified education loans. Applicants would be eligible for up to $6,000 if they have an associate degree, up to $20,000 if they have a bachelor’s degree and up to $30,000 if they have a master’s degree.
  • 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.
  • 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 Department of Education guidelines.

For more information: Email Stefan Geller or call 508.599.2245.

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