A view of Minneapolis, Minnesota from a nearby bridge.

There are a number of bills being introduced in the Minnesota state senate aimed at helping borrowers pay off their student loan debt. Another goal of the political action: making sure graduates work and stay in Minnesota.

The legislation would offer partial loan forgiveness for graduates who come to live and work in Greater Minnesota. More than 300,000 students could receive as much as $3,000 for five years. This legislation would be folded into the state’s overall higher education funding bill package addressing various different issues such as retaining teachers in rural areas.

Minnesota is struggling in many different industries that point back to student loans. Additional legislation would assist veterinarians who establish practices in Greater Minnesota. It would offer loan forgiveness of up to $15,000 in veterinarian student loans. It also requires vets to treat livestock at least half of the time, as well as remain in the Greater Minnesota area for a minimum of five years. The area currently has a shortage of livestock veterinarians, and like other borrowers, vet graduates are having difficulty paying back their loans.

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While Minnesota’s situation is unique in a sense, it all stems from a common problem. A problem that affects the northern state a little more acutely than the rest of the United States. Minnesota currently has the fourth highest average student loan debt per graduate in the country with the average graduate borrower owing $21,744 according to the Student Loan Report; additionally, Minnesota’s default rate is 8.83 percent, tenth in the country.

The burden of that debt affects both borrowers and the state’s overall economy. Why? Many recent graduates decide against settling down in the region due to the lack of high-paying jobs. On top of this, those that are in the area cannot afford to spend money that will keep the economy healthy such as buying a house or car. At any rate, all of these problems are in the minds of politicians, driving action in Minnesota to a degree.

Image Copyright © Doug Kerr

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