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    How to Receive Student Loan Forgiveness as a Healthcare Worker

    By Kayla Korzekwinski

    Kayla Korzekwinski is a Scholarships360 content writer. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Advertising/PR, Rhetorical Communication, and Anthropology. Kayla has worked on communications for non-profits and student organizations. She loves to write and come up with new ways to express ideas.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: May 7th, 2024
    How to Receive Student Loan Forgiveness as a Healthcare Worker

    There are several programs that offer student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers. Many of these programs pay off a portion of your healthcare education loans in exchange for a commitment to service. Continue reading to learn about programs that offer student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers!

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a program offered by the Department of Education. PSLF forgives all federal student loans for borrowers employed by U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal governments or not-for-profit organizations. For PSLF eligibility, healthcare workers must work for facilities associated with the government or non-profits. 

    For PSLF eligibility, you also must work full-time for a qualifying employer. During the time of employment, you must make 120 monthly payments on your student loans. This means it will take at least 10 years to receive PSLF. Borrowers seeking PSLF must also make their payments under an income-driven repayment plan. 

    To apply for PSLF, healthcare workers must fill out a PSLF form annually to recertify their employment. This form will also inform you of your progress toward PSLF.

    Read more: Guide to student loan forgiveness programs

    Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

    The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is an initiative from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA). This program will pay up to 85% of debt related to nursing education for registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, or nurse faculty. Over the course of two years, nurses will receive repayment of 60% of their nursing school debt. After the two-year contract, nurses may be eligible for a third year in which they will receive funding to cover 25% more of their debt. 

    To qualify for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, nurses must commit to working at a critical shortage facility or eligible nursing school as a nurse faculty member. Critical shortage facilities are ones that have a shortage of primary care, dental, or mental health providers. A nursing school is eligible if it is accredited and recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

    You must complete an online application to apply for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. The deadline for this application differs annually. Be sure to know the deadline for the year you wish to apply.

    Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

    This loan repayment program is funded by the Indian Health Service. The Indian Health Service will pay healthcare workers up to $40,000 to cover their education loans in exchange for two years of practice in health facilities that serve American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Employment is based on facilities with the greatest need for staff in particular healthcare disciplines. Participants in this program are able to extend their contract annually until they pay off their healthcare education debt. 

    An online application must be completed for this program. The deadline varies every year. American Indian, Alaska Native, or IHS Scholarship Program recipients receive preference for this program.

    NIH Loan Repayment Program

    National Institutes of Health offers loan repayment programs for health professionals in biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. NIH will pay up to $50,000 of a researcher’s education debt annually. Participants in this program will participate in research that is relevant to the mission of NIH.

    There are two categories of programs: one for researchers employed by NIH and one for researchers who are not. The degree eligibility for each program varies. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. by the award start date. Applicants not employed by NIH must conduct research not prohibited by federal law or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services or NIH.

    Rewards are based on the applicant’s potential to build and sustain a career in research. To apply for this program, fill out the online application.

    NHSC Loan Repayment Program

    The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program will repay healthcare education debt in exchange for two years of service at an NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area. 

    Applicants must be fully licensed to practice primary medical care, dental care, or mental/behavioral health care in the state they apply to. Applicants must also be born or naturalized U.S. citizens. 

    This program requires an online application. The application process takes 3 weeks, and requires documents regarding education, debt, and training.  After submission, the application is revisable at any time before the deadline. 

    State-specific student loan forgiveness 

    Individual states also offer student loan forgiveness programs for healthcare workers. Many state-specific programs require a service commitment in an area with a shortage of healthcare providers.

    For example, nurses in Michigan are eligible for $200,000 to repay their nursing school loans. This award is in exchange for a two-year commitment to working in a Health Professional Shortage Area. 

    Research the state you wish to practice in for more student loan forgiveness programs!

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    • Find the program that is best suited towards your situation, be it PSLF, NIH Loan Repayment, Indian Health Service Loan Repayment, or NHSC
    • Obtain a thorough understanding of the program’s requirements to ensure that you are on-course or have already completed them
    • Complete the necessary work to qualify for the program
    • Reach out directly to the agency in charge of loan forgiveness and find out what materials you need to prove your eligibility

    Additional resources 

    Wondering how much student loan debt is too much? Perhaps you already took on student loan debt and are falling behind in payments? If so, read our student loan default and how to get out of it guide. Learn more about income-driven repayment plans and make paying back your loans more doable. No matter where you are in your academic journey, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you are eligible for. 

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