As another round of university students graduate this summer, it’s no wonder many of them will stay in or move to Saskatchewan for work.

The Graduate Retention Program provides a rebate up to $20,000 of tuition fees paid by eligible graduates who live in Saskatchewan and file a Saskatchewan income tax return. This benefits both Saskatchewan graduates and graduates from other provinces who are choosing to move to Saskatchewan for work.

The Saskatchewan government has paid about $200 million in rebates to about 58,000 post-secondary graduates for the tax years 2008 through to 2013.

This year, plenty more will receive a rebate through the Graduate Retention Program, including 24-year-old Kelli Greschner. She’s just one of many who graduated from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) this year and landed a job in the province. Greschner finished her last final exam on April 21, had a job interview six days later and was hired that same day.

She says a number of factors contributed to her staying in Saskatchewan after she graduated. She grew up in Saskatoon and wanted to stay close to family and friends and did her clinical placement in Saskatchewan. She also says it pays to be a nurse in the province.

“There is great job security in Saskatchewan for nurses,” she says. “Lots of nurses are needed and tons of jobs available for new grads. And Saskatchewan nurses are among the highest paid nurses in the country.”

Students staying in the province after graduation is becoming more and more popular, according to Melana Soroka, the U of S’s director of alumni relations.

“We’ve certainly seen a shift and a change. In the ’80s and ’90s we did see a migration of many of our graduates to other parts of Canada, but I think that’s changed in Saskatchewan’s favour.”

Soroka says the number of alumni who live in Saskatchewan has gone up over the last 10 years. Right now, of the 143,000 U of S alumni, almost half of them live in Saskatchewan. And 75 per cent of those who graduated from the U of S in the last two years stayed in Saskatchewan.

“I think they see some opportunities here for their career path,” Soroka says. “… certainly we’ve seen the economy in Saskatchewan grow. We’re also seeing some of our alumni having families and coming back to Saskatchewan to raise their children here.”

The University of Regina (U of R) doesn’t track how many graduates work in the province, but it does say that approximately 50,000 U of R alumni live in Saskatchewan, and 80 per cent of their alumni who live in Canada chose Saskatchewan.

The province’s major technical training institution, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, does track employment. The school’s most recent survey of 2012-13 graduates found that 94 per cent of respondents available for work were employed and 96 per cent of those were employed in Saskatchewan.

At the U of S, the colleges with the highest retention rates are nursing, medicine and kinesiology. Soroka says the Graduate Retention Program is a contributing factor to keeping U of S grads in Saskatchewan.

Greschner agrees.

“I think the program is a great way to retain staff in a number of fields in high demand. It provides an extra incentive to explore the great job opportunities available in Saskatchewan.”