Sen. CervantesSPRINGFIELD – Continuing to support our growing workforce in Illinois, State Senator Javier Loera Cervantes is building support for new legislation creating the Graduate and Retain Our Workforce Illinois Program that will assist students in STEM fields here in Illinois.

“How we support our students affects how the workforce of the future will find good paying jobs. Illinois is here to support students through their educational journey and ensure they reach their destination,” said Cervantes (D-Chicago). “These growing tech fields are in dire need of employees and we are creating a pipeline for students to grow their life here in Illinois.”

The new legislation, Senate Bill 1453, will create the Graduate and Retain Our Workforce Illinois Program, otherwise known as the GROW Illinois Program, is intended to allow public institutions of higher education to award forgivable loans to individuals with qualifying degrees and jobs that are in high demand.

The GROW Illinois Program focuses on a list of majors that would be considered qualifying for the incentive loans including computer and information sciences, information systems security, management information systems, and other similar majors that will be determined acceptable by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Additionally, every two years after the program starts, ISAC must select five qualifying jobs and select degrees that would qualify students for these forgivable loans.

In order to incentivize students stay and work in Illinois, each year that a recipient works a qualifying job in Illinois after they graduate, the public institution that awarded the incentive loan must waive repayment of the amount of one year of the recipient’s incentive loan.

“We are creating a focus on retaining and supporting our students in Illinois,” Cervantes said. “Students that invest their time into science and technologies need to know that Illinois will have your back and invest in your future.”

Recipients of these incentive loans must pay the full amount back if they fail to graduate with a qualifying degree within 6 years or do not work in a qualifying job in this state within one year after completing the degree, and if they do not meet the time required at the job.

Senate Bill 1453 passed in the Higher Education committee on Tuesday and now heads to the floor for further consideration.