Chairman of the Commerce Committee Jeff Berger (D-Waterbury) is pleased to announce that Senate Bill #78, An Act Concerning the Learn Here, Live Here Program, has passed the House of Representatives and awaits the Governor’s signature.

“Connecticut has seen an exodus of educated and trained workers over the past few years,” Rep Berger said. “If we are to continue on the road to economic recovery, we must do everything we can to keep them in Connecticut.”

This bill allows the state to expand the Live Here, Learn Here program, which helps graduating students save money toward a down payment on their first home in Connecticut. Under current law, the program is open only to students graduating from regional-technical schools and in-state students graduating from state colleges and universities after January 1, 2014.

The bill opens the program to any student graduating from a public or private college in Connecticut or a health care training school located in the state.

The Live Here, Learn Here program helps students save by putting away a portion of their state income tax payments for up to 10 years after they graduate. The law limits the amount to $ 2,500 per year per student.

To receive the down payment assistance, a student must apply to the DECD commissioner within 10 years after graduation. The payment equals the segregated amount, up to the amount needed for the down payment. Students who receive the assistance and subsequently leave Connecticut may have to repay all or part of the assistance, depending on when they leave. Those who leave within the first year after receiving assistance must repay the entire amount. Those who leave in any of the four subsequent years pay smaller amounts back as follows: 80% in the second, 60% in the third, 40% in the fourth, and 20% in the fifth.

Rep. Berger serves the 73rd General Assembly District and is currently in his fourth term. He is Chairman of the Commerce Committee and serves on the Finance, Revenue & Bonding and the Judiciary Committee.