Get Help to Pay Off Student Loan Debt with New Program

Franklin County is part of a new program of the Virginia Tobacco Revitalization Commission which will help pay off student loan debt for recent college graduates who reside in Franklin County (or another tobacco region community) and fill in-demand jobs.

The Talent Attraction Program will award up to $48,000 per graduate over four years when recipients live and work in the tobacco region at specific jobs in education, health care, engineering, and computer technology. Award recipients also are required to become civically engaged in the community by volunteering with local non-profits or government activities.

While anyone from around the U.S. can apply, preference will be given to those raised in the tobacco region. Recipients will receive $12,000 per year upon proof of employment and residency for the initial two-year period. They are eligible to apply for an additional two years and receive another $24,000.

smith mountain lake franklin county

Franklin County is part of the Roanoke, Virginia, metropolitan area – the largest metro in Western Virginia. In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is home to Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia’s largest lake and thousands of residents who enjoy the lake lifestyle.

Franklin County is well-known for its outdoors culture offering mountain bike trails and blueways for residents who also enjoy the county’s breweries and distilleries. Ferrum College, a four-year private school, and the Harvester, an intimate concert venue attracting national acts, are outlets for education and entertainment. The public schools are designed to meet the needs of all students with innovative programs from the arts to technology.

Information and eligibility

The purpose of the Talent Attraction Program (TAP) is to encourage recent graduates to live in the tobacco region and work in targeted, hard-to-fill occupations in the Tobacco Region by providing up to $12,000 annually in student loan repayment with a two-year commitment. Loan repayment awards may be renewed for another two years if eligible (maximum award of $48,000).

This program replaces and better targets the prior 4-year loan forgiveness program by requiring that recipients have specific, desired credentials, contribute meaningfully to their communities, and work in occupations for which there is currently a workforce shortage. Moreover, by providing large individual awards, this program seeks to truly incentivize people to change their career plan and locate in the Tobacco Region.

To be eligible, recipients must:

  • Have graduated after March 15, 2018, with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education, public or private, in-state or out-of-state (not applicable to renewals)
  • Be able to legally work in the U.S.
  • Reside within the Tobacco Region during the 24-month period of employment in which the award is made.
  • Begin full-time employment in the tobacco region within six months of the award letter (if not already employed in the region) and work for 24 months after award is made in one of the following occupations in the tobacco region: Public School Teacher in Science, Math, Technology/Computer Science, or Career and Technical Education (Grades 6-12), Public School Special Education Teacher K-12, Speech Language Pathologist, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Industrial or Electrical Engineer, Information Security, Network, or Computer Systems Analyst.
  • Become significantly civically engaged in their community by volunteering with local non-profit or government activities, such as the United Way, Ruritan Club, Junior League, PTA, citizen committee for local government, food banks, youth sports coach, etc., with a total annual engagement of at least 50 hours of work.
  • Have qualifying educational loans