Offering contributions to some college savings plans to help workers stay

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new compensation tool aims to help state agencies recruit and retain top talent in the workforce in Virginia.

Governor Ralph Northam announced this second tool on Friday, saying it will enable agencies to make contributions to Virginia529 accounts employees have for their children as an incentive to attract and retain people in critical or high-turnover posts.

"I am proud of Virginia's talented state workforce, and it is critical that our state agencies can continue attracting and retaining the best employees," said Northam. "It is my hope that this new compensation tool not only helps us fill critical and high-turnover positions, but also encourages other Virginia employers to consider similar incentives. At the same time, this new tool helps provide a path to affordable higher education, a key priority of my administration, for Virginia's employees and their families."

According to a release, the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management and Virginia 529 collaborated to develop a streamlined administrative process to help the use of this new tool, which will be available in addition to a student loan repayment bonus that was approved in June for similar positions.

The release also says Virginia has promoted a public service student loan forgiveness program through which an employee at a state agency may qualify to receive forgiveness for their student loans.

Agencies will have to fund such bonuses from their current budgets and require employees remain employed for up to one year in exchange for the 529 plan contributions.

The State Council of Higher Education projects the total cost for undergraduate students at a state-supported four-year institution will cost $24,003 for the 2018-2019 academic year, up 4.4 percent.

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