• Member-benefits.jpg
  • Asking the Experts: ND’s Career Workforce Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program

  • Asking the Experts: ND’s Career Workforce Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program

    Asking the Experts: ND’s Career Workforce Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program

    In conjunction with the ND Career Builders Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program roundtable with Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer (find this and other workforce programs in this blog post), The Chamber talked with Representative Rep. Michael Howe, R–ND, District 22, on why he sponsored HB 1171, the legislation that created the program.

    Give us an overview of the Skilled Workforce Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program and why you supported it.
    The program was developed to serve as a private-public partnership between the state and private sector businesses seeking to hire skilled workers across the state. Every dollar invested by the private-sector will be matched, 1-1 by the state. Broadly, there are two aspects to this program: providing student scholarships and repayment of student loans.

    With nearly 30,000 open jobs across the state, many of which are skilled positions, I supported this legislation to help encourage students to attend college in North Dakota, incentivize them to stay here, and even encourage some individuals to go back to school. As a state, we need to do everything we can to recruit more people to live and work within North Dakota and if we can attract and retain highly skilled workers, it creates the potential to open up new opportunities and attract new businesses to our state. The state of Washington created a program similar, and it is estimated that by 2025 nearly 16,000 students will be served and nearly 81% of those individuals will live in the state following graduation. Regardless if you are Republican or Democrat, live on the East or West side of the state—solving the workforce shortage of the state is something we can all unite behind.

    Who can take advantage of this program? Specifically, in regard to programs, majors and college institutions.
    As mentioned, there are two different aspects to the program: student scholarship and student loan repayment. To be eligible for either of the options, the individual must live and work within the state of North Dakota. The career must also be defined as ‘skilled’ or in a high demand and emerging occupation (the list can be found at ndus.edu/career-builders). To specifically qualify for the scholarship option, the student must commit to live and work within the state for at least three years following graduation, or else they would be subject to paying the money back. To qualify for loan repayment, the employee must have been hired as of 2019.

    How much has the state invested in the program? Additionally, of the dollars appropriated, how much has been utilized?
    Between the two options of the program, the state has invested $6 million: $3 million for scholarships and $3 million for loan repayment. Every dollar that the state commits, requires a match from private-sector businesses, meaning the total program value is $12 million. For scholarships, the dollars a student receives cannot exceed the cost of attendance and has a lifetime student maximum of $17,000. For the loan repayment, it cannot exceed the maximum of $5,667/year with a lifetime maximum of $17,000 per student. There is no maximum that an employer can contribute to the program.

    With the program in such an infancy state, since the program went live in July of 2019, there have been 30 approved applications for scholarships totaling $201,214 and three approved applicants for loan repayment totaling $43,505.16.

    Will this program need to be renewed again next biennium?
    No, this program will not need to be renewed next biennium as it is a continuing appropriation. The money appropriated will remain available until all of the funds have been exhausted.

    Got a question for a legislator, public official or other expert? Let us know what’s keeping you up at night and we just might help get you answers. Email mrademacher@fmwfchamber.com to submit a suggestion.

    Leave a Comment
    * Required field