The city of Pittsburgh and Councilman Corey O'Connor proposed a student loan debt relief program tied to buying a home in Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday July 11, Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor introduced a Will of Council that would offer student loan debt relief to those who purchase a home in the city of Pennsylvania.

The program is intended to help those who struggle with repaying their student loans, while simultaneously improving the real estate market in the Keystone State.

In a statement to WPXI 11 in Pittsburgh, Councilman O’Connor said the following, “You can talk to almost anyone on the street, a friend or a family member, and they have a student loan that will take them years and years to pay off. Why not assist them and get something out of it because they become new property owners."

The Will of Council was proposed to the Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday and stated the following, “It is the Will of the Council of the City of Pittsburgh that the Administration develop, promulgate regulations for, participate in, and undertake a commitment to a program that provides financial assistance to a purchaser for the purpose of purchasing a primary residence and making payments on the purchaser's student debt.”

The program would only be available to eligible student loan borrowers. Participants would be required to purchase a home in the state of Pennsylvania and must hold student loan debt. The homebuyer would also have to be living in the purchased residence no later than a year after the purchase.

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The student loan debt they hold must also be federal student loan debt from a higher education institution, and the borrower must be in repayment or deferment. The student loan debtor and homebuyer would also have to hold a minimum of $1,000 in student loan debt at the time of purchase and a maximum of 15 percent of the price of the home.

Other qualifications and administrative details are to be hashed out if the program is approved by the administration.

Councilman O’Connor’s hope is that Pennsylvania will adopt a similar program to the one enacted by Maryland last November. Maryland’s program, known as SmartBuy, helps young residents purchase homes by paying for a portion of their student loan debt according to the value of their home.

The SmartBuy program pays 15 percent of the total value of a mortgage towards the homebuyers student loan debt.

Councilman O’Connor intends to lobby Pennsylvania lawmakers in the capital of Harrisburg later on. Pittsburgh is the first city in the state to propose the student loan program.

It is no secret that student loan debt holds back many young Americans from doing what they would like. According to The Student Loan Report, there are around 44 million student loan borrowers in the U.S., with the most recent graduates owing an average of $27,857.

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