ANNAPOLIS — Governor Larry Hogan today announced the launch of SmartWork, an important component of the administration’s overall college affordability and student debt relief package. The governor introduced SmartWork in 2018 as part of a comprehensive series of initiatives to make a college education more affordable and provide relief to Marylanders burdened by student debt. The SmartWork component for state employees is now being launched following completion of negotiations with the state employee unions.
“Our administration is doing everything we can to ensure that all Marylanders have access to a college education, which includes making college as affordable and accessible as possible,” said Governor Hogan. “This innovative program will provide many of our hardworking state employees relief from the high levels of college debt that many families face.”
SmartWork’s Student Loan Repayment Plan (SLRP) will offer Maryland state employees working in specified shortage areas—such as nurses, correctional officers, police, and IT workers—the opportunity to receive state assistance with student loan debt. Current state employees in eligible job classifications who are paying down their children’s student loans may also qualify for this benefit, for children age 25 and younger.
The explosion in student loan debt in the last 20 years is unprecedented. Student loan debt now totals $1.6 trillion, which has recently surpassed credit card debt in volume. With nearly 60% of Maryland college students graduating with student debt, averaging more than $27,000 per student, this massive debt is preventing Marylanders from buying homes and investing in their retirement.
Beginning today, eligible state employees will be able to download an application and other documents verifying school(s) attended and loan payments that have been made by the employee during the repayment interval. The state expects demand to be robust and is preparing for a large volume of applications.
The maximum benefit is $20,000 over a ten-year period. The initiative is administered by the Office of Personnel Services and Benefits of the Department of Budget and Management. Additional information can be found here.