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Indiana's interest-free "career accelerator" loan program launches Wednesday

Justin Hicks
IPB News

An interest-free loan program called "Accelerate Indiana" launches Wednesday to aid Hoosiers taking quick job certification programs. Some workers could have the loans entirely forgiven.

The Indiana General Assembly created the Career Accelerator Fund with $75 million of federal relief in the budget earlier this year. The intention is to have a revolving fund that will replenish as workers make more money, pay more in state income tax, and have that financial boon reinvested in the fund.

Workers can get student loans of up to $7,500 to earn credentials in fields like logistics, construction and IT. The job training programs must be six months or less. After training, if a participant’s income doesn’t increase — or stays below $42,500 annually — they won’t have to repay the loan.

Bill Wozniak is with INvestEd Indiana — a financial aid nonprofit designated to administer the program. He said the nonprofit has been working for months to create criteria and vet programs to ensure that each one reliably results in higher-paying jobs — a strict requirement from lawmakers.

“The legislation is saying ‘prove that this outcome occurs’ and it’s something that [some of] these providers just haven’t tracked,” he said. "It doesn't mean that they're not currently doing it, but you have to be able to sort of prove it."

At its onset, just six training providers will have been cleared to use the loans that offset the costs of worker training. Each provider is approved by a panel of workforce officials from the Governor's Workforce Cabinet, the Department of Workforce Development and a handful of industry leaders. The panel expects to approve more trainers in coming months.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

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