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Peters Announces Legislation to Help Communities Attract Workers & Alleviate Student Loan Debt

PORT HURON, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today visited The Underground, a small business and innovation incubator in Port Huron to announce that he will be introducing new legislation to help communities attract workers who possess career skills most needed in the region. Peters’ bill will help expand post-graduation scholarships, which are grants that help recent graduates pay down their student debt if they live and work in areas experiencing a shortage of their particular skills. Peters was joined by members of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, which was involved in drafting the legislation. The Foundation’s Come Home Award Fund gives post-graduation scholarships to incentivize skilled workers to live and work in St. Clair County.

“Programs like the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s Come Home Award Fund helps attract talent for employers in need of workers and reduces the financial burden on graduates whose skills are in high demand,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased to announce that I will be introducing legislation to expand post-graduation scholarships, so that more Michigan communities can address the skills shortage in their region and boost their economies.”

“We’re excited to partner with Senator Peters in supporting post-graduation scholarships like the Come Home program we’ve developed that is bringing the best and brightest workers back to St. Clair County,” said Randy Maiers, President & CEO, Community Foundation of St. Clair County. “These awards are a win-win for our area: they help recipients pay back their student loan debt while putting their training and education to good use.”

Currently, unlike traditional scholarships, recipients of post-graduation scholarships are required to pay income tax on the grant. The Workforce Development through Post-Graduation Scholarships Act would:

  • Exclude Post-Graduation Scholarships from Gross Income: This bill would exclude post-graduation scholarships from gross income in the same manner as traditional qualified scholarships.
  • Ensure Recipients are Addressing a Community NeedIn order to guarantee that any foundation and recipient are acting in a charitable manner, this bill includes language that any grant distributed must concretely support a community need, such as a lack of working-age college graduates, needed career skills in areas with high poverty rates, or another clearly demonstrated need.
  • Provide Guidelines for Proper Oversight: The bill gives the Department of Treasury rulemaking authority to create anti-fraud rules and includes reporting requirements to Congress, to further ensure these post-graduation scholarships, the recipients, and the community foundations are not subject to abuse. It would also direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the implementation of these grants that focuses on who is receiving them, how long they receive them for, and how much is paid out, among other areas.

In the U.S. Senate, Peters has been focused on ensuring Michigan’s workforce can compete in a 21st century economy. Last month, President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation that includes provisions from Peters’ SUCCESS Act to expand school counselor training and awareness of career and technical education so they can help inform students of post-high school education opportunities outside of the traditional four-year college degree.