Monday, February 04, 2013

State incentives lure people to rural Kansas, but counties struggle to keep their end of the bargain

A Kansas program designed to encourage more people to move to rural parts of the state is experiencing both participant success and financial concerns.

Amy Bickel of The Hutchinson News reports that the Rural Opportunity Zones program rewards people who move to decreasing-population counties, with income-tax breaks and student-loan assistance. The program pays up to $15,000 of a successful applicant's student loans. Since the program began in 2011, 628 people have applied for the student-loan benefit. More than half of those applications have been approved, and 151 more are pending, according to the article.

However, the expectation that counties match the money put forward for loan payments up to $15,000 is placing a financial burden on the counties the program aims to benefit. Bickel writes, "The program's success is presenting the biggest challenge."

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