With several Kansas universities holding commencement ceremonies this weekend, students and families traveling along the Kansas Turnpike will have the opportunity to learn more about the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program, thanks to three large signs along the Turnpike between Wichita and Topeka. These signs inform travelers that they can move to rural Kansas and receive income tax waivers and student loan repayment assistance.
“By partnering with the Kansas Turnpike Authority, we’re able to spread the word to drivers on the interstate about the Rural Opportunity Zones program,” Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George said. “These signs will be of particular interest to students and their families traveling for graduation this weekend. Debt is a pressing concern for many graduates, and these signs will help spread the message that Kansas offers a unique way to help them pay for their student loans.”
Two of the signs tout the student loan repayment program, which allows qualified graduates to receive student loan repayments of up to $15,000. A third sign advertises the ability for individuals to move to Kansas from out-of-state and have up to five years of their state income taxes waived. Currently, 73 counties are participating in the income tax waiver part of the program, and 66 counties feature the student loan repayment option. On July 1, four additional counties – Cherokee, Labette, Montgomery and Sumner – will become ROZ counties.
The signs are located on bridges near southbound mile marker 113 (just north of Emporia), southbound mile marker 114 (just south of Emporia) and northbound mile marker 71 (just north of El Dorado).
“This is exactly the type of partnership opportunity we’re encouraging between State agencies,” said KDOT Secretary Mike King, who also serves as director of the KTA. “Secretary George and I want the same thing: to grow the Kansas economy. This is an example of working together toward that common goal.”
To date, 1,500 individuals from 42 states have already applied for the student loan repayment portion of the program, and it continues to rapidly grow in popularity. Students and their families are encouraged to visit KansasCommerce.com/Rural to learn more about the ROZ program and how to apply, and to view a complete list of participating counties.