October 26, 2023

Student Loan Assistance and State-Level Brain Drain


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

A love a win-win

Let’s keep it light today. Could state funded student loan repayment assistance solve regional brain drain?

You may have seen this stat before: 

👉45% of US companies were started by immigrants or their children. (Source)

For those of us in the US, brain drain makes us giddy. Liquid financial markets and easy access to capital make it an attractive place to start a business. Or a career.

A lot of the world’s best and brightest move here. And become our best and brightest. (A fact that Americans take for granted but that’s another topic for another day.)

Brain drain is everywhere. The Balkans are getting crushed with high skill emigration. Croatia joined the EU and now they’re losing 15k people annually to European areas with more career opportunities. (Source)

Within the states, it’s been a constant for decades (centuries?). Leave your small town to move to the big city to make it big. Talk to a group of random 20 something Office Dorks in Chicago, you’ll find most came from other Midwestern states: Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, etc. It’s the same in all major metro areas.

At some point, you’d think these smaller states would do something about it. Well, some are.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, student debt is kind of a big deal. So much so that some states are seeing it as an opportunity to curb brain drain: stay here and we’ll pay down your loans. 

Kansas, Maine, Maryland and Michigan have programs for people who meet specific requirements to benefit from loan assistance if they stay put. (Source)

This is notably different from loan forgiveness (no, I’m not going to step on that landmine of a topic today.) It’s a business decision: paying down loans of critically needed labor keeps them around, but also adds to the tax base.

The question with remote work being far more accessible, will we see more states do this even more broadly across skill sets?

No idea, but it will be interesting to watch. I love a win-win.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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