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06/24/2024 10:06 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=36034
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: July 30, 2021 11:31 AM
From: Representative Nick Pisciottano
To: All House members
Subject: Reversing "Brain Drain" in PA Communities
 
Many regions of Pennsylvania are losing population. While the official 2020 Census figures will be released later this year, its clear Pennsylvania’s population growth has been stagnant compared to other states resulting in the recent loss of a Congressional seat. This weakens our Commonwealth’s influence nationally. Further, many regions of the state struggle to maintain stable populations causing downstream effects that impact budgets, property values, school districts, and more in many of our local municipalities. In some communities, the population loss creates a downward spiral of financial distress that can only be addressed with state funding.
 
To counter this population loss, the General Assembly needs to find ways to provide economic opportunities for young people across the state to stay in their communities while building a prosperous future. Many college-educated young people struggle to find jobs outside of urban centers that pay enough to afford the crushing costs of student loan debt. We can do more to keep young people here in Pennsylvania by offering incentives that encourage recent graduates to live in communities experiencing population loss. This will have the double benefit of helping reverse Pennsylvania’s population decline statewide as well as revitalizing communities facing fiscal challenges by injecting new residents into those areas.
 
My legislation will create the Pennsylvania Retaining Educated Workers Incentive Program (PREWIP) Act to allow individuals to receive either student loan forgiveness or zero percent interest rate on their student loans if they agree to live in a distressed zone of the state.
 
A distressed zone is a municipality that:
 
(1)  Is designated by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) as eligible for the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) Loan Program; and
 
(2)  Is experiencing population loss over two percent as determined by the United States Census Bureau.
 
Loan forgiveness requires a 10-year residency in a distressed area while 0% interest is a more flexible option for those who cannot commit to 10-year residency. Using these twin criteria would make residents of at least 606 local municipalities eligible for the program in communities from Wayne County to Forest County to Fayette County and everywhere in between.
 
The goal of this legislation is to make certain areas of the state that are dealing with population loss and economic erosion more attractive for young adults by offering incentives on student loan repayment. The costs associated with loan assistance will be repaid over time in increased economic benefits for our local municipalities and the Commonwealth overall.
 
Please join me in sponsoring this legislation aimed at reversing population loss and "brain drain" across the Commonwealth and sowing the seeds for a more prosperous future for Pennsylvania.
 

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Introduced as HB1943