Although 36 million tourists visit Maine each year, very few of them seem to want to stick around once the vacations are up and the state is having some difficulty getting young people to actually settle down there. That’s why it has devised the perfect incentive for young adults fresh out of school, who are looking for a place to get started: It’ll help you pay off your student debt.
The Equal Opportunity Tax Credit program can be an extremely attractive prospect for out-of-state young professionals. When you move to Maine, the money you would ordinarily put toward your student loan debt each year is simply subtracted from your state income taxes. So if you normally pay $2,000 toward your loan and owe the state $2,200 in taxes, you’ll only end up paying Maine $200.
STEM majors — science, technology, engineering, and math students — would especially benefit from the program. If their loan payoff exceeds their taxes, they might actually receive a check from the government. STEM major Matthew Glatz was $60,000 in debt when he graduated from the University of Southern Maine, and has greatly benefited from the tax credit program. “It’s fantastic,” he told CNN. “Maine is a great place to live and work, and any incentive you have to show people that and make them realize that is a benefit.”
Maine needs young professionals now more than ever. The state has the oldest population in the country, with a median age of 44. Nate Wildes, engagement director for the private-sector initiative Live + Work in Maine, told CNN, “We need to import people…we need to attract people from other states for our workforce.” Wildes himself moved to Maine partly due to the initiative. He said the program made his transition much easier. It “speaks to financial perks, but also of the culture in Maine…it’s by far the most general universal tax relief program in the United States.”