COMMUNITIES seem to be a lot like the people who live in them - some are satisfied to let life happen to them while others take life's challenges on as personal challenges.
Recent efforts by officials in Niagara Falls, N.Y. is a good example of a city thinking outside the box and looking for some novel solutions to their problems. Despite having the largest waterfall in the world nearby, Niagara Falls is having a hard time getting people to live in the community.
Niagara Falls is dwindling. So, rather than being satisfied with slowly watching the lights go out, folks there have come up with a plan. In an effort to encourage recent college graduates to move to Niagara Falls, the city is offering to help them pay off their student loans.
Yup. According to a recent article from Fox News, move to Niagara Falls and the city will pay up to $3,500 in annual student loan payments for two years. The city plans to select up to 20 people to benefit from the program during the first round of the program. Preference will be given to graduates who are interested in community service or are planning on buying a home in the area.
The plan was created in an effort to keep the city's population from dropping below 50,000 people. That is a benchmark for the city to continue receiving state and federal funding. Currently the city has 50,193 residents - down from a population of 55,593 in 2000.
Apparently there are plenty of graduates who feel as if they could use a bit of help repaying those student loans. So far, more than 200 people have requested information about the program.
The pool of grads who could potentially be interested in the program is huge - there is a lot of student loan debt out there. In fact, for the first time in history, Americans owe more in student loans than they have in credit card debt.
Currently, Americans owes $833 billion on student loans. That compares to $826 billion we owe on our credit cards. The average student owes $24,000 in student loans.
And that leaves Niagara Falls with a lot of potential new residents.