The purpose of the Talent Attraction Program (TAP) is to encourage recent graduates to live in the tobacco region and work in targeted, hard-to-fill occupations in the Tobacco Region by providing up to $12,000 annually in student loan repayment with a two-year commitment. Loan repayment awards may be renewed for another two years if eligible (maximum award of $48,000).

This program replaces and better targets the prior 4-year loan forgiveness program by requiring that recipients have specific, desired credentials, contribute meaningfully to their communities, and work in occupations for which there is currently a workforce shortage. Moreover, by providing large individual awards, this program seeks to truly incentivize people to change their career plan and locate in the Tobacco Region.

To be eligible, recipients must:
• Have 
graduated after March 15, 2018 with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution   of higher education, public or private, in-state or out-of-state (not applicable to renewals)
• Be able to legally work in the U.S.
• Reside within the Tobacco Region during the 24-month period of employment in which the award is made:
• Begin full-time employment in the tobacco region within six months of the award letter (if not already employed in the region) and work for 24 months after award is made in one of the following occupations in the tobacco region:

o Public School Teacher in Science, Math, Technology/Computer Science, or Career and Technical Education (Grades 6-12)
o Public School Special Education Teacher K-12
o Speech Language Pathologist
o Physical Therapist
o Occupational Therapist
o Industrial or Electrical Engineer
o Information Security, Network, or Computer Systems Analyst

• Become significantly civically engaged in their community by volunteering with local non-profit or government activities, such as the United Way, Ruritan Club, Junior League, PTA, citizen committee for local government, food banks, youth sports coach, etc., with a total annual engagement of at least 50 hours of work.
• Have qualifying educational loans
For information on the loan repayment program for healthcare occupations (physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dental professionals, mental health professionals, registered nurses, and pharmacists), please visit 

Application Process and Evaluation Criteria:

The application is due September 15, 2019. Awards are anticipated to be made by the end of September.
The total number of awards will be based on available funding and loan balances of eligible applicants. Priority will be given to graduates who are from Tobacco Region localities – those whose permanent residence was in the Tobacco Region for at least 12 months prior to attending college.

There is no program commitment or reservation of funds until the Tobacco Commission has confirmed individual eligibility and has provided an award letter of commitment. Recipients may not receive TAP loan repayment in the same year a Tobacco Commission student loan is forgiven (only applies to former Tobacco Region Loan Forgiveness Program recipients).

Disbursement of Awards

Graduates selected through the competitive review process will be given a two-year commitment letter totaling $24,000 for student loan repayment. Distribution of up to $12,000 will be made annually upon proof of employment and residency for 12 months and verification of civic engagement. Recipients who do not live and work in the region for 24 months forfeit the award and must repay the Commission for any funds received. TAP recipients may apply for a two-year renewal for an additional $24,000 award if eligibility requirements are met.

For more information, contact email or call 804-225-2027.