Lawmakers consider education help

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008

FAIRBANKS - State lawmakers are considering a measure that would help pay education costs for workers in hard-to-fill jobs.

Rep. Craig Johnson, an Anchorage Republican, is pushing a bill that would cover up to $37,500 in individual debt for student loans owed by people working in professions where there are severe employee shortages.

An Alaskan employed in one of those professions - likely including health care, engineering and teaching - would qualify for as much as $7,500 a year for five years.

The grant would not be more than half the worker's total student debt. It would apply only if the schooling was needed for the profession and if the worker had already been employed in the state for a year.

In a sponsor statement, Johnson noted problems finding qualified workers. He said the state's growing economy and large projects would only make the situation worse.

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