NEW YORK—Suffering under a mountain of student loan debt could be irrelevant to engineers if a new bill in the state Senate becomes law.
The Empire Engineers Initiative Act would create a loan forgiveness program for engineers as an incentive to increase their ranks in New York state corporations. College-educated engineers with outstanding student loan debt who qualify would work for a participating corporation and get financial rewards equal to up to 50 percent of a four-year tuition at SUNY.
On Monday, June 17, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer came out in support of the legislation during an event at Queens College. New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) and New York State Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester), both bill co-sponsors, were also there.
Supporters are pushing for the legislation as a means of bolstering the workforce of qualified engineers in New York City and throughout the state. It is also being touted as a means to boost economic development. The Act was introduced on June 5 in the state Senate and is currently being reviewed by the Committee on Higher Education.
Engineers who participate in the program must have graduated with an engineering degree and made a commitment to work in New York for at least five years.
Stringer’s Start-Up City report, which came out in April 2013, is considered to be the main impetus behind the legislation.
“Many of the core recommendations from Start-Up City, including the strengthening of our broadband networks and the growth of public-private partnerships between innovative companies and our City schools, can only be accomplished if we have the talented engineers to carry them out,” stated Stringer in a release on Monday.
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New York city and state politicians have long bemoaned the lack of talented professionals in science and engineering fields. In arguing for implementation of the program, Stringer argued that scholarship programs already exist for social workers and nurses, but there is nothing for engineers.
New York ranks 28 overall in the Technology and Workforce Index, according to co-sponsor Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who said that “more must be done.”