The Kansas Department of Commerce has announced that seven additional counties certified by the Kansas Legislature to participate in the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program have decided to partner with the state in the student loan repayment program. Allen, Bourbon, Brown, Ellsworth, Nemaha, Osborne and Sheridan counties have voted to provide matching funds to assist qualified new residents with student loan repayments.
“A growing number of applications have poured in for the Rural Opportunity Zones program,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “These new partners will help even more families move to a ROZ county, bringing new students and workers to spur economic growth in rural Kansas.
The ROZ program allows qualifying individuals who move to a ROZ county to have their state income taxes waived for up to five years. In addition, counties that opt to partner with the state may offer student loan repayments of up to $15,000. In 2011, 50 counties were initially certified as ROZ counties. The Legislature expanded the program to include 73 counties in 2013.
Since July 2011, the Department has received 1,106 applications for participation in the student loan repayment program from residents of 41 states. Education and healthcare are the two largest professions among applicants. More than 80 percent of applicants have family connections to rural Kansas.
For more information about the ROZ program, please visit KansasCommerce.com/RuralOpportunityZones.
The following counties have been certified by the Legislature as ROZ counties (italicized counties are 2013 additions):
Allen, Anderson, Barber, Bourbon, Brown, Chase, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Clay, Cloud, Coffey, Comanche, Decatur, Doniphan, Edwards, Elk, Ellsworth, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Haskell, Hodgeman, Jackson, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Meade, Mitchell, Morris, Morton, Nemaha, Neosho, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Rice, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Trego, Thomas, Wabaunsee, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, Wilson and Woodson.
–Press release via Kansas Department of Commerce