Talent Attraction Program: Student Loan Repayment

Talent Attraction Program Update: The Commission’s Education Committee is currently evaluating the Talent Attraction Program (TAP) to ensure it is best meeting the needs of the communities the Commission serves in Southern and Southwest Virginia. While payments and renewals will continue for those currently in the program we encourage those interested in future rounds of the program to check our website for additional information as it becomes available.

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 the Virginia Department of Health Student Loan Repayment Program site.

Program Objective and Description

The purpose of the Talent Attraction Program 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 between December 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, with a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education, public or private, in-state or out-of-state
• 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 or graduation, whichever is later, and work for 24 months in one of the following hard-to-fill occupations:

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

*Please note that Special Education Teacher is no longer an eligible occupation for this round of the program.

• 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, local fire/EMS, 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 the Virginia Department of Health Student Loan Repayment Program site.

Application Process and Evaluation Criteria:

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 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 up to $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 after graduation or award letter, whichever is later, forfeit the award and must repay the Commission for any funds received. Award recipients may apply for a two-year renewal for an additional $24,000 award if eligibility requirements are met.

For more information, email tap@revitalizeva.org or call 804-225-2027.