Initiatives encourage college graduates to stay in state

Initiatives to keep and support graduates in West Virginia as well as technological ventures to stimulate the economy are working through the West Virginia Legislature with the assistance of Marshall University and other state organizations.

“At least 50% of Marshall graduates leave the state and we would like to see more stay in the state,” Marshall President Jerry Gilbert said. 

The journey to keep more graduates in the state begins with assisting them during their college career with a new student funding initiative being proposed in the West Virginia Legislature, Gilbert said. 

Gilbert said these Business Promise Plus Scholarship allows a business to support a local student with a scholarship and that businesses can get a tax credit for supporting a student.

“Students can compete for these additional dollars that will go on top of their Promise Scholarship,” he said. “That is something that has gotten some support this year and we think that it might actually pass.”

Other bills will allow graduates to receive tax benefits after they pay off their student loans.

“One of them says if they (students) pay off student debts, they can get a state tax credit for the money that they pay off for student debt,” Gilbert said. “The other gives them some other tax incentives. The idea is to try to encourage graduates to stay in West Virginia.”

Also in the House of Representatives and Senate is legislation that encourages advancements in the financial technology, or fintech, industry and development of high-wage jobs in the state, Gilbert said.  

The fintech industry includes products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

Gilbert said the bill will make adjustments in the state laws to assist in the development of these businesses in the state. 

Additionally, there is a bill to give more freedom to the Development Office to offer high-wage job creation in the state, he said. 

These initiatives are joint effort between West Virginia University, West Virginia Forward and Marshall, Gilbert said. 

Ralph May can be contacted at [email protected]