GENEVA—First, it was “tuition-free” college at SUNY schools. Now New York is offering recent college graduates money toward the down payment of a home.
The “Graduate to Homeownership” program, launched on Wednesday, provides first time homebuyers who have graduated with an associates, bachelors, masters or doctorate degree in the past 48 months between $3,000 and $15,000 in down payment assistance if they buy a home in one of 8 specific upstate cities.
The $5 million program is first-come, first-served and open to those graduates who want to buy a home in the cities of Jamestown, Geneva, Elmira, Oswego, Oneonta, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls or Middletown. The program works in conjunction with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative that was announced for those same cities earlier this year.
The hope is that the incentive will encourage graduates to put down roots in upstate communities, bringing new energy and talent into cities that have struggled with “brain drain” in the past. “They graduate, they want to buy a house and it just seems insurmountable, that dream is so far in the future and we want to make that dream a reality sooner,” says Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul.
How much each individual graduate gets depends on how much the home costs. He/she will also be required to take a homebuyer education course. There is no requirement that the graduate stay in the house for a specific time period after purchasing the home and claiming the incentive. “On top of all of the school loans and things like that that I have, to have a program that offers to actually help you, to give you assistance with closing costs, it’s definitely something to look into,” says Deirdre Ware, a student at Finger Lakes Community College.
The $5 million program along with the $165 million “tuition-free” SUNY college program are funded by taxpayers in this year’s state budget.
Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC): “You have taxpayers on the other side of this issue that say, ‘I’m still paying my student’s college loans, I came up with money for a down payment to be a paying taxpayer here in New York State, why am I being asked to pay for other people’s gains?’ How do you respond to that?”
Lt. Gov Hochul: “We’re investing in people…To the people who are paying student debt from years past, I’m sorry that we didn’t have a program like this before, I’m sure you would have taken advantage of this but something like this has to start somewhere.”
“Graduate to Homeownership” is a pilot program. The state says if it’s successful and a lot of students sign up and have success, it may look to expand it in other cities during next year’s state budget process.