Chapter 6A of the General Laws, as so appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 16Z the following new section:-
Section 16AA. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“human service provider,” a community-based human services organization with a human services program funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Department of Housing and Community Development or the Department of Early Education and Care.
“human services worker,” an employee of a human service provider who provides treatment, support or services to clients or their families.
“qualified education loan,” any indebtedness, including interest on such indebtedness, incurred to pay tuition or other direct expenses incurred in the connection with the pursuit of a certificate, undergraduate or graduate degree by an applicant. It shall not include loans made by any person related to the applicant.
(b) There shall be a student loan repayment program for human service workers to encourage individuals to enter the field and maintain employment at human service programs. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services shall administer the program in accordance with guidelines promulgate by the Department of Higher Education.
(c) To be eligible for the program, a participant must be working a minimum of 35 hours per week as a human services worker. Further, individuals must have maintained 12 consecutive months of employment as a human service worker at a minimum of 35 hours per week to be eligible for this program. This program will help defray costs from previously incurred student loans for graduates holding a certificate or undergraduate/graduate degrees.
(d) Priority for funding should be given to applicants who have an individual salary less than 50 percent of the median income; who are bilingual; who are living and/or working in a vaccine equity initiative community; or how have worked in the direct care field for three or more years.
(e) Applicants will be eligible for up to $6,000 if they have an associate degree, up to $20,000 if they have a bachelor’s degree and up to $30,000 if they have a master’s degree.
(f) Other eligibility criteria may created to determine how applicants to the program should be prioritized and how much funding each would be able to apply for.
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