Hawaii launches student loan relief program for ~1,500 healthcare workers

With all the fuss & bother over student loan debt over the past few years, this story out of the Aloha State caught my eye:

To say the topic of student loan program debt forgiveness has gotten a lot of attention in recent years would certainly be an understatement. Plenty of debate has been completed on both sides of the issue, with no real resolution anywhere in sight. In Hawaii, however, some action has been taken with the goal of both helping healthcare workers and also strengthening the healthcare system for residents of the 50th state.

In order to provide the funds needed to help healthcare workers pay off student loan debt that was incurred, this program is going to use a blend of state and private funding. As a starting point, $30 million will be provided by the state and an additional $5 million is going to be contributed by the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff.

For eligible workers, up to $100,000 of student loan debt can be paid off. The first group represented Hawaii-based health care workers with outstanding student debt of more than $100,000 and as much as $500,000. With the funds that are available, almost 500 workers will be served with the first round of payments. In exchange, it is necessary for the workers to pledge a minimum of two years working in the state of Hawaii, as well as working with 30% of patients of Medicare or Medicaid.

There's more details on the program here:

Just in time for Christmas, the state told 492 Hawaii health care workers this week that it will pay off their student loans — up to $100,000 — in return for a two-year commitment to stay in the islands.

The next period of applications for even more Hawaii-based health care workers — and even expats on the mainland — is scheduled to open July through August. That round will pay off student debt of up to $50,000 for each of two years for 1,000 more health care workers like physicians, nurses, mental health specialists and social workers.

Gov. Josh Green on Friday thanked the state Legislature for providing a historic $30 million to fund the program — along with an additional $5 million contribution from Lynn and Marc Benioff to pay off student loans for health care workers specifically on Hawaii island, where the Benioffs have a home. Marc Benioff is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce and owns Time magazine.

So that's about 1,500 people total. Very nice.