Proposal offers 10k for grads who choose to stay in Mass

By Bessie King

Reports show that every year thousands of students graduate from New England colleges and leave in search of opportunities elsewhere. But State Senator Brian Joyce is hoping more students will stick around if they’re given a good reason. He’s not talking about enhanced job opportunities or quality schools for raising children – he’s talking cold, hard cash.

Joyce, a Milton Democrat, filed legislation this month that would provide graduates from Bay State colleges with $10,000 for the down payment of a house or apartment. According to the proposal, recipients would have to agree to stay in the state for at least five years, or repay the money with interest, and the graduate’s yearly salary could not exceed 135 percent of the median income of the community where the property is bought.

A report by the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, shows 65,000 people with college or post-graduate degrees left the state in 2004. The large number of students fleeing Massachusetts has policymakers worried about how these numbers will affect the state’s educated workforce and its economic future.

For some students the offer sounds enticing.

“I would stay because a free $10,000 is a good offer, why not take it?” said junior industrial engineering major George Barmakin. “Granted the cost of living here is very high, a down payment like that could balance things.”

The money would come from $25 million Joyce proposed the state set aside, and the state would monitor how many students use the program and how effective stipends are. The Joint Committee on Housing and Urban Development has not yet debated the bill.

Other states, like Vermont, have pushed tax breaks for young people or for businesses that hire them but even with money or tax breaks students say they would leave the Hub after graduation.

“It all depends on what I was offered, if I got a good job to stay,” said Sylvia Alex, a senior biology major. “I will most likely go back to New York because the atmosphere there is more professional and I don’t want to stay here if I don’t have to.”

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