The Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program provides student loan repayment assistance to people who live and work in Maine in a STEM-designated occupation at a Maine-based employer. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
Program Announcement Effective September 1, 2021
Thank you for your interest in the Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program.
Since 2017, over $6 million in student loan debt reduction has been awarded to over 200 Alfond Leaders. The Harold Alfond Foundation, Alfond Leaders Advisory Committee, and FAME are pleased to have helped these Maine STEM professionals who work for Maine-based employers live and work in Maine.
We will not be running an application cycle for the fall of 2021 while we evaluate the program’s future. When we have an update to share, we’ll post it here as soon as possible. We recommend visiting this page on the first of each month to check for program updates.
About the Program
The Alfond Leaders Student Debt Reduction Program provides student loan repayment assistance to people who live and work in Maine in a STEM-designated occupation at a Maine-based employer. Alfond Leaders may qualify for loan repayment of up to half of their outstanding student loan balance at the time of application to the program, not to exceed $60,000.
New in 2020, students who have completed or will complete their degree or certificate within months of application cycles are welcome to apply. The loan repayment awards made to recent college graduates or students who will be graduating, if selected, will not be finalized until they have begun a STEM position in Maine and have relocated to the state.
Alfond Leader applicants must submit a complete application and all required documents, which are due to FAME on or before the application deadline. This includes: your online application, official college transcripts, current resume, and copies of all loan statements.
There will be two application periods per year: one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring application period is now closed. The current application cycle closed on November 15, 2020.
How Do I Apply?
There are two application collection periods per year: one in the spring and one in the fall. The current application cycle for the Alfond Leader program is March 15 to May 15, 2021.
Please note: a complete application and all required documents are due to FAME on or before the deadline. This includes:
- Your online application
- Official college transcripts
- Current resume
- Copies of all loan statement
Online applications are currently closed.
Who Is Eligible?
- Maine residents or persons who will become Maine residents upon being hired by a Maine-based employer.
- A person employed, or who will be employed, by a Maine-based employer in a designated STEM occupation. Click here for a list of STEM occupations.
- For the spring 2021 application cycle, eligible applicants must have a higher education degree or certificate; or have recently graduated with a degree or certificate between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020; or be completing their degree or certificate between January 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021.
- An applicant must have outstanding student loan debt.
- Preference may be given to applicants working full time in certain STEM occupations, as determined by FAME in cooperation with the Alfond Leaders Advisory Committee.
What Is a Maine-Based Employer?
A Maine-based employer is one that:
- Operates a place of business (has a physical corporate office) located within Maine; and
- Is required to withhold Maine income tax with respect to its employees.
Which Loans Qualify for Repayment?
Both undergraduate and graduate student loans are eligible for Alfond Leaders student loan repayment. Original student loans as well as refinanced or consolidated student loans are eligible, provided they were specifically for education expenses. Parent loans are not eligible.
How Are Recipients Selected?
Applications are reviewed with the Alfond Leaders Advisory Committee. If you are selected as a finalist, you may be requested to participate in an interview. Alfond Leaders for the fall 2020 application cycle, which ran from September 15 and closed on November 15, 2020, will be selected and notified of their selection approximately in December 2020.
What Are the Award Amounts?
Alfond Leaders may qualify for loan repayment of up to half of their outstanding student loan balance at the time of application to the program, not to exceed $60,000. Awards are paid in two installments: the first installment will be paid after three years of qualifying employment, and the second installment will be paid after an additional three years of qualifying employment. An estimate of each debt-reduction installment for an individual will be calculated at the time of selection as an Alfond Leader and be based upon that individual’s outstanding student loan debt at the time of application to the program, as well as subject to other terms and conditions. Note that a debt-reduction payment will never be more than the remaining balances of your student loans at the time of payment.
Alfond Leaders must provide an annual eligible employment certification to verify three years of continuous employment prior to the first and second payment installments. Additionally, Alfond Leaders must submit annual certifications of continuous Maine residency and answer a program questionnaire.
There is no credit given for time worked by an Alfond Leader prior to his/her acceptance into the program. The “clock” for qualifying employment begins after an applicant has been selected to be an Alfond Leader. The employment “clock” for selected graduating students will begin on the first day of the calendar quarter immediately following confirmation that they have both begun a STEM position in Maine and have relocated to the state. Employment and relocation to Maine must occur on or before September 1, 2021 for recipients selected from the fall 2020 application cycle.
How Are the Funds Paid?
Funds are paid directly to your student loan servicers.
Alfond Leaders FAQs
Have questions? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
What if I am moving to Maine based on an offer of employment? How will I certify that I have an eligible position?
Your employer can certify your future employment and your award agreement will specify when your “employment clock” begins.
Can I receive credit for time I have already worked in my Maine-based STEM-designated occupation prior to being selected as an Alfond Leader?
No, the eligibility period begins after an applicant has been selected to be an Alfond Leader.
What if my position is terminated by my employer?
If your position is terminated, you will have 60 days to secure a new STEM position without losing your Alfond Leaders debt-reduction award. However, your time out of work will not count as qualifying employment and you may need to provide two employer certifications to document one year of eligible employment.
What if I choose to leave my position?
If you choose to switch employers, it is your responsibility to ensure that your new position is a qualifying STEM position in order to keep your Alfond Leaders award. Additionally, your employment must be continuous with a gap of no more than 60 days when transitioning between the two qualifying positions. You will most likely need to provide two employer certifications in that year to document one year of eligible employment.
What if I take Family Medical Leave from my employer due to illness or parental leave?
As long as your employer considers you to be employed during your Family Medical Leave, this will be reflected in your annual employment certification provided to FAME to document your eligible employment.
What if I move out of state?
If you move out of Maine, you will no longer be eligible for any future debt-reduction payments, nor will debt-reduction payments be prorated based on employment of less than three years. Previous debt-reduction payments made for completion of the initial three years of qualifying employment will be considered final and a return of funds will not be required.
If I am not selected as an Alfond Leader, will my application automatically be considered in the next application cycle?
No, a new application must be submitted for each application cycle in which a person wants to be considered for selection as an Alfond Leader. If an applicant has previously applied but not been selected as an Alfond Leader, they must submit a new application for consideration in the next application cycle, and include updated student loan statements. If you would like FAME to attach your previously submitted resume and college transcripts to a new Alfond Leaders application, please email your request to Education@FAMEmaine.com but not until after you have submitted your new online application.
What if I’m self-employed? Can I still apply to be an Alfond Leader?
A person who is a self-employed STEM professional may apply to be an Alfond Leader.
Will I be taxed on the debt-reduction payments I receive as an Alfond Leader?
Many loan-repayment-program payments are considered taxable to the beneficiary. However, neither FAME nor the Harold Alfond Foundation can provide tax guidance to Alfond Leaders; therefore, we recommend that applicants consult their own tax professional for an answer to this question as it applies to their tax situation.
Resources for Maine Employers
Maine employers can use this program to retain or recruit employees.
Get the word out about Alfond Leaders to your current employees and be sure to send them to AlfondLeaders.org for more information and/or to apply for the program.
Additionally, encourage your talent-recruitment staff to become familiar with the Alfond Leaders program as they look to bring in STEM workers from out-of-state who may be eligible to apply to be an Alfond Leader. Download FAME’s Alfond Leaders information sheet that you can share with existing and potential employees.
If you still have questions, please contact our customer service specialists Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
207-623-3263 | Toll-free: 800-228-3734 | TTY: 207-626-2717