IA: Clinton County Offers First-Of-Its-Kind Student Loan Repayment Program | Trade and Industry Development

IA: Clinton County Offers First-Of-Its-Kind Student Loan Repayment Program

Oct 17, 2019
Clinton County, Iowa, is helping post-secondary educated individuals in their communities pay off student loans.
Clinton County, Iowa, is taking action to support the financial health of post-secondary educated individuals in their communities by helping them manage and pay off student loans. On August 1st, the county partnered with Peanut Butter to launch a first-of-its-kind student loan repayment program. The program aims to support individuals with student loans regardless of their level of education.
Clinton County will be making a contribution of $30 per month to new residents who sign up with Peanut Butter. Other organizations and employers in the area have also joined the program, adding their contributions. Other participating organizations include the cities of Clinton, Camanche, and Dewitt, as well as the Clinton Community School District, Camanche Community School District, and Central DeWitt Community School District.
While the eligibility criteria and contribution amounts vary, these sponsorships can be complementary to one another. For example, a new resident of Camanche who lives within Clinton County and works at the Camanche Community School District would be eligible to receive $30 per month from the city, $30 per month from the county, and $30 per month from the district for a total of $90 in contributions paid to his/her student loans.
Clinton County has identified student debt as a critical issue for the college-educated talent that will drive its economy forward, and it is taking action to attract those workers. “We realize that reversing Clinton County’s population decline will benefit our tax base,” said Eric Van Lancker, Clinton County Auditor. “We know there is not a single, magical solution to solving this issue, so we’ve been working on several outside-the-box ideas. 
Attracting people to live in Clinton County through a student loan incentive was an idea we needed to make work. We also figured out quickly that we needed to share this with other governmental entities within the County to make it more valuable. Today, we’re very excited to announce this partnership to offer this unique community program.”
Today, more than 45 million Americans hold over $1.5 trillion in student loans, and for many, the debt has become unbearable. Since 2006, growth in student debt has outpaced household income by more than 3x. Studies have consistently cited that student debt is keeping people from getting married, buying cars, buying homes, and saving for retirement -- all major life events that correlate with a commitment to a community.
In Iowa alone, 63% of college graduates collectively hold $12.5 billion in student loans, an average of $29,859 per borrower, and an increase of 77% in the last 10 years, according to Experian’s 2019 report. While the student loan assistance programs in Clinton County will support Iowans, it improves the opportunity for employers in the area to attract workers from surrounding states and from across the nation.
“Student debt is a major burden on college-educated workers, and they’re more likely to go places where they receive support for it,” added David Aronson, CEO of Peanut Butter. “Empathetic, market-leading, and innovative organizations, like our partners in Clinton County, are recognizing that, by providing assistance, they will attract great people who spur economic development and growth.”
Student debt is a major financial stressor. According to Inc, the #1 goal of millennials is simply to get out of debt. Through their hard work and with contributions from Clinton County organizations, workers can pay off their debt years earlier, freeing them to pursue other life goals.
“The Clinton Regional Development Corporation remains focused on the growth of a skilled workforce.” explained Andy Sokolovich, Existing Industry Manager at Clinton Regional Development Corporation. “Not only will the Clinton County Student Loan Assistance Program serve as an attraction tool, but it will also contribute to an existing narrative focused on the importance of returning to your community following postsecondary education. Remember, if you have children off at college or vocational training, they will qualify for the program upon their return to Clinton County. Help us bring them back!”
Employers interested in joining this effort to attract college-educated talent to Clinton County and their companies are encouraged to contact Peanut Butter to set up their Student Loan Assistance program, (800) 913-6651, or visit getpeanutbutter.com.