Student Loan Forgiveness For Health Professionals [Explained]

Are you a health professional overburdened by student loan debt ? Here is an in dept study on how you can go about getting your loan amount forgiven, check your eligibility and explore the various programs available to you based on your profession.

Updated by Akshata Patil on 18th November 2019

If only the cost of higher education in the U.S was so affordable there wouldn't have been more than 44 million students struggling with student loan debt. But does it end there? The loan gets carried forward increasing the interest rate making the life of the individual even more difficult to survive. But is there any other way to deal with it or avoid it?

Here is some good news for the aspirants opting for a student loan for funding their way into health professions. The Government has come up with many loan forgiveness programs for health professionals to help students afford their education and also measures to reduce down or cut off their loan debt. Let us see how is it possible.

Table of contents 

What is student loan forgiveness?

If your loan has been forgiven it means that you are no longer required to repay your outstanding loan amount. Cancellation or discharge of your loan means loan forgiveness. This advantage is available to only the federal student loan balance borrowers. 

There are many school programs that get the benefit of loan forgiveness and one of those is health professionals. Here we are talking only about Loan Forgiveness for Health Professionals. There are certain criteria and requirements to be eligible for loan forgiveness.


Which health care professions are eligible for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Not all the professions under the healthcare field have the benefit of loan forgiveness programs. Some of the eligible professions are:

General healthcare professions:

  • Physician

  • Physician Assistant

  • Dentist

  • Behavioral/Mental Health Professional

  • Pharmacist

  • Clinical Research Healthcare Professional

  • Veterinarian

  • Medical School Faculty

Other related Healthcare professions are:

  • Non-Profit Hospital Worker

  • Physical Therapist

  • Allied Health Grad Program Graduate in Public/Behavioral/Mental Health

  • Emergency Medical Technician

  • Laboratory Technician

  • Occupational Therapist

  • Nutritionist

  • Radiology Technician

  • Respiratory Care Provider

  • Speech-Language Pathologist


Who can avail of Loan Forgiveness programs?

Only the Federal Perkins and Direct Loan borrowers are eligible to avail Loan Forgiveness programs. The Federal Loans that are eligible are:

  1. Direct Subsidized Loan

  2. Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  3. Direct PLUS Loan

  4. Direct Consolidation Loan

  5. The Federal Perkins Loan Program

Private Student Loans are not applicable to Public Service Loan Programs.


What are the criteria to be eligible for Loan Forgiveness Programs?

Depending on the repayment plan you choose there are forgiveness options for the same with few conditions like repayment of the loan upto certain years and so.

For Revised Pay As You Earn Plan-

If you have made the payments up to 20 or 25 years and if the entire loan amount is not repaid your outstanding balance will be forgiven. But you will have to pay income tax on the amount that is forgiven.

For Pay as You Earn Plan-

If you haven’t repaid the full loan amount in 20 years, your outstanding balance will be forgiven. But you will have to pay income tax on the amount that is forgiven

For Income-Based Repayment Plan-

If you have made the payments up to 20 or 25 years and if the entire loan amount is not repaid your outstanding balance will be forgiven. But you will have to pay income tax on the amount that is forgiven.

For Income-Contingent Repayment Plan-

If you haven’t repaid the full loan amount in 20 years, your outstanding balance will be forgiven. But you will have to pay income tax on the amount that is forgiven.


Which are the programs available under student Loan Forgiveness?

Given below is a list of programs available for student loan forgiveness - 

  1. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

  2. National Corps Loan Repayment Program 

  3. Faulty Loan Repayment Program 

  4. National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program

  5. Health Professions Loan Repayment Program

  6. Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

  7. Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

  8. Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

  9. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

  10. Student Loan Relief for Nurse

  11. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

  12. U.S Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Primary Care Loans.

  13. Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Programs

1. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP)-

This program provides repayment assistance for primary care physicians, dentists, and behavioral/mental health professionals in a shortage area. It provides financial aid of up to $60,000 in exchange for 2-year commitment to work in the above-mentioned work profession. The individuals can also receive additional finance by extending their service. The half time service professions are also eligible for this program but a lower repayment amount is offered. This program is tax-free.

What are the benefits of NHSC LRP?

One can expect the following benefits with NHSC LRP - 

Service 

You have the benefit to increase your access to primary care services to communities in need.

Flexible Service Option

You have the benefit of choosing one of the service options:

  1. Two-year full-time clinical practice at an NHSC-approved site.

  2. Two-year half-time clinical practice at an NHSC-approved site.

Loan repayment

You have the benefit of receiving financial aid to repay your outstanding, eligible, educational loans. 

The best part of this program is that the NHSC loan repayment funds are exempt from federal income and employment taxes.

Following are the financial aids available:

For full-time service

As per the table, site HPSA score plays an important role in determining the award amount-

AWARD AMOUNT 

SERVICE COMMITMENT

SITE HPSA SCORE

Up to $50,000

2-year initial term

≥ 14

Up to $30,000

2-year initial term

≤ 13

For both the awarded amounts the service commitment has a 2-year initial term.

For half-time service

The site HPSA score for half time service is the same as that for full-time service-

AWARD AMOUNT 

SERVICE COMMITMENT

SITE HPSA SCORE

Up to $25,000

2 year initial term

≥ 14

Up to $15,000

2 year initial term

≤  13


Just like full-time service the service commitment required is 2 year.

Complete Repayment of Qualifying Loans

After completion of the initial two years of the service contract, if you still have some outstanding educational loans you may be eligible to apply for additional loan repayment funds through one-year continuation service contracts.

A note to be made that there is no guarantee that you will receive a continuation contract.

Are you eligible for NHSC LRP?

There are certain requirements that you have to fulfill to be eligible. First of all you must be a U.S citizen or a nationalist and render service in specific areas as per the requirement of the LRP. Such as these there are more requirements to meet.

To know if you are eligible for the program refer nhsc.hrsa.gov. 

Are military reservists eligible for NHSC LRP?

Yes, the Reservists of the Armed Forces, the National Guard are eligible to participate in either the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) or the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP).

What you should understand about your service commitment for NHSC LRP?

The military training or service you perform will not satisfy the NHSC service commitment.

If your military training and/or service, will exceed seven weeks per service year combined with your other absences from the service site, you need to request for a suspension. 

Your service commitment end date will be extended by the officials to compensate for the break in NHSC service.

What if the armed services deploy you?

You can return to the NHSC service site that you were serving prior to deployment.

If you are unable to do so, you can request a transfer to another NHSC approved service site.

If you still fail to get a transfer or refuse to accept an NHSC assigned to another service site, the officials will place you in default of your service obligation.

What are the qualification criteria for NHSC LRP?

  • You must be a citizen of the United States (born or naturalized)

  • You must be an eligible provider in the Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program as per the eligibility requirement

  •  You must be fully trained and licensed to practice in the above mentioned eligible disciplines in the state you serve

  • You must have qualified student loans that helped you get the health profession degree in the disciplines mentioned above.

Which are the disciplines that are eligible for NHSC LRP?

Here are the disciplines eligible for NHSC LRP - 

Primary Care Medical 

Physicians to be eligible must be from the following disciplines-

a. Allopathic (MD)

b. Osteopathic (OD)

These Physicians must be a specialist in the following fields-

  • Family medicine

  • General internal medicine 

  • General pediatrics 

  • Obstetrics/Gynecologists

  • Geriatrics  

The other discipline in which the physicians can be eligible are-

  1. Physician Assistants (PA)

  2. Nurse Practitioners (NP)

These Physicians must be a specialist in adult, family, pediatric, women’s health and Geriatrics. The Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNW) are also eligible.

Dental care

The dentist to be eligible must be from the following disciplines-

  1. Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

  2. Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD)

These dentists to be eligible must be a specialist in the following streams-

  • Family Medicine

  • General Internal Medicine

  • General Pediatrics

  • Obstetrics/Gynecology

  • Geriatrics

The Dental Hygienists are also eligible for this program.

Behavioral/mental health professionals

The professionals to be eligible must be from the following disciplines-

  1. Allopathic (MD)

  2. Osteopathic (OD)

These professionals must be a specialist in psychiatry (Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists are eligible)

The other discipline eligible are-

  1. Nurse Practitioners (NP)

  2. Physician Assistants (PA)

These professionals must be a specialist in mental Health & Psychiatry.

The other disciplines for which the professionals can be eligible are-

  • Health Service Psychologists (HSP)

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

  • Psychiatric Nurse Specialists (PNS)

  • Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT)

  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)

How to apply for NHSC LRP?

After you go through the qualification and eligibility criteria, and if you fulfill the eligibility requirements the next step is to apply. You can apply through the three following steps:

1 - Online application sections

  • Eligibility 

It is mentioned above in the article under eligibility, if you cannot pass this initial stage of selection you can proceed with the application.

  • General information 
  • Discipline, Training and Certification
  • Employment
  • Employment verification

  • Loan information

2 -  Required supporting documentation

  • Proof of United States Citizenship or nationality

  • Loan information verification like an account statement and/or disbursement report

3 -  Additional supplemental documentation (if applicable)  

 For your record, you can keep a copy of your complete application package.

What are the selection factors for NHSC LRP?

There are certain factors that the officials evaluate for selection such as-

  • Your honor legal obligations

  • You are not in breach of any service obligation

  • You do not have an existing service obligation

  • You are not currently excluded, suspended, or disqualified by a federal agency

  • You commit to providing primary care service in a HPSA

What are the selection factors for NHSC Student to Service (S2S) LRP?

NHSC offers the Student to Service (S2S) LRP to the final year medical students. The students must commit to provide primary care health services for at least three years full time or six years part time service at an  NHSC approved site. The S2S program will provide financial aid up to $120,000.

The selection factors considered under S2S LRP are-

  • You are required to pass the first component of licensing examinations

  • Your honor legal obligations

  • You are not in breach of any service obligation

  • You do not have an existing service obligation or will not perform any service obligation concurrently with S2S LRP.

  • You must not be currently excluded, suspended or disqualified by a federal agency.

  • You must commit to providing primary care services in HPSA.

For more information about how to apply, you can refer the website nhsc.hrsa.gov

What do they use to evaluate your commitment and interest in serving communities in need of NHSC LRP?

  • Essays

  • Recommendation letters

  • Resume/Curriculum vitae (CV)

  • Transcript 

  • Submission of completed application 

For more information about how to apply, you can refer to the website nhsc.hrsa.gov.

What are the funding priorities to evaluate the applicants?

The NHSC uses certain funding priorities to evaluate and determine who should receive the loan repayment awards.

For the details regarding funding priorities, you can refer the following link nhsc.hrsa.gov.


2. Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)

This program is eligible for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and other advanced practice nurses in exchange for a 2 years commitment in a Critical Shortage Facility. This includes hospitals, clinics and other facilities experiencing Critical shortage facility. They can receive up to 60 percent (30 percent per year) of the original balance on their qualified educational loans.

They can also extend their service to a third year to get the additional benefit of 25 percent in loan repayment. This financial aid are taxable. This program is also eligible for the full time working nurse at accredited, public or private, non-profit schools of nursing.

Are you eligible for NCLRP?

To be eligible you must have to be one of the following-

  • Licensed registered nurse

  • Advanced practice registered nurse or

  • A nurse faculty member of qualifying nurse debt.

You are required to receive your nursing education from an accredited school of nursing located in U.S state or territory.

You must work full-time in:

  • An eligible CSF in a high need area (RNs, APRNs)

  • An accredited school of nursing

NOTE: Depending on your financial need the funding is provided.

What is a CSF?

A CSF is a public or private non-profit health care facility located in, designated as, or serving a Health Professional Service Area (HPSA).

An HPSA is an area with primary care or mental health professional shortages.

What is an eligible school of nursing?

Under NCLRP, a nursing house is eligible if it is accredited by a national nursing accrediting agency or a state agency recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

For more details about NCLRP, you can refer to the link bhw.hrsa.gov.


3. Faulty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP)

This program is available to those who are interested in pursuing a career as a faculty member at a health professions school. FLRP also play a role as a recruiter to recruit and retain health professions faculty members. They also prepare and support the next generation of educators by encouraging students to pursue faculty roles in their respective health care fields. 

The benefits of FLRP?

The FLRP program provides financial aid as well as professional aid such as-

  • You will receive up to $40,000 as loan repayment

  • You will receive funding to offset the tax burden

  • As a faculty member, you can be a professional in training the next generation of health professions.

How to apply for FLRP?

You are required to fulfill the following requirements-

  • You must have an eligible health professions degree or certificate

  • You must be an employee as a faculty member at an approved health professions institution for a minimum of two years.

  • Based on environmental and/or economic factors you come from a disadvantaged background

For 2019 the deadline to apply was June 27, 7:30 pm ET.

For further details you can refer the following link bhw.hrsa.gov.


4. National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program (NIH LRP)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers the NIH loan repayment program to professionals conducting research inside and outside the NIH like scientists, researchers, and health professionals. The main aim of NIH LRP is to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals in biomedical and biobehavioral research careers. This program provides financial aid up to $50,000 annually of a researcher’s qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to work in NIH research.

To qualify for NIH LRP you must have total qualified educational debt equal to or more than 20 percent of your institutional base salary as the time of allotment. Institutional base salary is the annual amount you receive on rendering services like research, teaching, patient care or other activities. It does not include the income received outside institutional services.

Who is eligible for NIH LRP?

There are certain criteria that the officials have to consider while screening the applicants to be eligible for this program, such as-

Citizenship

You must be a U.S citizen or a nationalist or permanent resident of the U.S

Qualifying degree (Extramural programs only)

You must possess one of the following degrees of an M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., D.C., N.D., O.D., D.V.M., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution. The exception under this eligibility is that the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP also accept certain master’s degrees and certifications. There are some exceptions to the qualifying degree. For more information about the exception of qualifying degrees, you can refer the link lrp.nih.gov.

Qualifying degree (Intramural programs only)-

You must possess one of the following degrees of an M.D., Ph.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., D.V.M., A.D.N., B.S.N., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution or you can also hold the position of Physician Assistant.

Qualified educational debt-

To qualify for NIH LRP you must have total qualified educational debt equal to or more than 20 percent of your institutional base salary as the time of allotment. 

Institutional base salary does not include any income earned outside the organizational services.

Qualified research (Extramural programs only)-

You are required to conduct your research as per the Federal, State, and local law. Along with that, you are also required to engage in qualified research for an average of at least 20 hours per week for each quarter of your service period.

Qualified research assignments (Intramural programs only)-

You should be assigned a qualified research area at the NIH. For more details refer to the link mentioned below.

Domestic, nonprofit research funding (Extramural programs only)-

Your research must be backed by domestic, non-profit research funding. You must be employed by an eligible non-profit institution.

NIH Employment (Intramural programs only)-

You must be employed by NIH or from an authorized official of the NIH.

NOTE: The applicants are not selected on the basis of age, race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other non-merit factors.

For more detailed information about eligibility, you can refer the link lrp.nih.gov.

What are the loan eligibility criteria for NIH LRP?

NIH will repay your qualified educational loans issued by any U.S government entity or U.S academic institutions and/or commercial lenders that are required to be examined and supervised as lending institutions by the U.S Agency or other state officials. The NIH will not repay any late fees, penalty fees, additional interest charges, or collection charges.

For more detailed information about eligibility, you can refer the link lrp.nih.gov.

Who is not eligible for the application?

There are certain reasons because of which you could be ineligible to apply. Such as-

  • If you are not a U.S citizen or U.S Nationalist or a permanent resident of the U.S.

  • If you have or had a Federal judgment lien against your property arising from federal loan

  • If you are employed by a federal government agency with a work schedule of more than 20 hours per week other than NIH.

  • If you receive any research funding aid from a commercial institution or organization.

  • If you are a current recipient of an NIH Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) or a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA)

  • If you are conducting research for which the funding is ruled out by Federal law and regulations or by HHS/NIH policy.

  • If you do not meet the 20% debt to income ratio.

  • Apart from deferrals or extensions granted, if you owe an obligation of health professional service to the Federal government, a state or other entity.

Which are the programs under NIH LRP?

There are eight LRP under NIH, out of which five are for Extramural researchers (not employed by NIH) and three for Intramural researchers (employed by NIH). 

For more information, you can contact the NIH LRP Information Center 866-849-4047

You can refer to the website lrp.nih.gov for more details.


5. Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP)

This program is offered by the U.S Navy to encourage health professions with a degree in allopathic or osteopathic medicine, dentistry, nursing and so on to join the U.S Navy or extend their active duty commitment.

Medical and dental professionals are offered loan repayment aid of $40,000 per year from which 25 percent is deducted as withholdings for federal income taxes.

Service members can obtain a minimum of two years of Active Duty Obligation or one year of loan repayment assistance whichever is greater. The U.S Air Force and U.S Army offer a  similar Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (ADHPLRP)


6. Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program (IHS LRP)

Financial aid is provided by IHS in order to encourage and promote health professions among the Native American Indians and Alaska Natives. The IHS LRP offers up to $40,000 aid for repayment of student loans for which you have to commit to serving in American  Indian and Alaska Native communities for two years. As an LRP participant, you have the benefit to extend your contract periodically until your qualified student debt is paid off.

Are you eligible for IHS LRP?

To be eligible for Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) you have to fulfill certain criteria such as-

  • You must be a U.S citizen

  • Males  18 years or above must be registered under Selective Service

  • If you either have a health profession degree or be in your final year of academic/postgraduate clinical training

  • If you have completed your post-graduation you must have a valid license to practice

  • The health professions pursuing their final year of post-graduation can also apply for the Loan Repayment Program even before receiving the license but they will not receive any loan repayment until they provide proof of license.

  • You must be committed to practice at an Indian health facility.

  • You must be able to begin the service on or before September 30 for two continuous years of full-time clinical practice.

Which are the eligible health professions for IHS LRP?

Here is a list of eligible health professions for IHS LRP - 

Advanced Practice Nurse

  1. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  3. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

  4. Nurse Practitioner (NP)

  5. Family Practice

  6. Geriatric

  7. Pediatric

  8. Psychiatric

  9. Women's Health

Behavioral Health

  1. Clinical Psychology: PhD and PsyD

  2. Counseling — Licensed Professional Counselor: Master's degree

  3. Counseling Psychology — PhD

  4. Social Work — Licensed Social Worker: Master's degree

Dentistry

  1. Dental Hygiene

  2. Dentist — DDS and DMD

Medicine

  1. Medicine: Allopathic and Osteopathic

  2. Podiatry: DPM

Nursing (Full-time clinical positions only)

  1. Nurse: ADN BSN

Optometry

  1. Optometry: OD

Pharmacy

  1. Pharmacy: PharmD

Physical Rehabilitation*

  1. Physical Therapy

  2. Occupational Therapy

  3. Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

* MS and DPT

Physician Assistant

  1. Physician Assistant: Certified

Other Health Professions

  1. Registered Dietician

  2. Medical Laboratory Scientist

What are the benefits of IHS LRP?

Under the IHS program you can get the benefit of a career as well as financial aid as following-

Career opportunity

You can get the benefit of long term career opportunity as this program provides advantageous financial aid many health professions enter this program to avail these benefits and end up spending their entire careers working in Indian health. The reason behind this is that they find the cultural and professional rewards very likable. Hence you can get the benefit of long term career opportunities along with loan repayment programs.

Financial incentives

Under loan repayment program (LRP) you get the financial incentive of $40,000 in exchange for two years commitment ($20,000 each year) which you can extend periodically until your student debt is paid off.

The current Indian health system employees who are new LRP participants will receive LRP payments within 120 days from the date the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s delegate signs your contract.

The non-current Indian health system employees who are new LRP participants will receive LRP payments within 120 days from their first day of work at their assigned site.

NOTE: Before you accept an IHS LRP award you must know that you if you accept this LRP aid are not eligible for another government program that requires you to render service commitment along with your contracted LRP commitment. This includes but up to a limit the other scholarships and Loan Repayment Programs like the National Health Service (NHSC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), as well as the scholarship through the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Programs and the IHS Scholarship Program.

What are the other LRP opportunities?

If you do not receive an IHS LRP award this program still gives you an opportunity to avail the advantage of the professional and personal benefits of a number of other loan repayment programs. These LRP include the IHS Supplement Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) LRP, NURSE Corps LRP, and state loan repayment programs.

These loan repayment options are available to those interested in continuing their career or already practicing in health professions in Indian Health facilities or sites. Please note that as per the federal government policy 

These loan repayment options are available to practitioners interested in pursuing the path to Indian health, as well as health professionals already practicing at Indian health facilities. In the event that you qualify for multiple awards, please note that federal government policy allows only one form of loan repayment to be accepted at one time.

What is IHS Supplemental Loan Repayment?

Along with IHS LRP you can practice at specific IHS sites simultaneously with the IHS Supplemental Loan Repayment Program, in which the health professions will receive comparable loan repayment awards in exchange for two years of commitment by filling the vacancies in IHS. For more information, you can contact the IHS LRP branch office whose contact is given at the end.

State Loan Repayment Programs

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) promotes financial assistance by granting 30 plus states to operate their own loan repayment programs for those working in HPSAs in primary care.

The other programs that they can benefit under IHS LRP are-

  • NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

  • National Health Service Corps


Learn more about student loan repayment


What are the resources for IHS LRP-

The material you will require before applying for IHS LRP is-

  1. LRP Participant Guide it contains the policies, procedures, practices that you will have to abide by which is available on the official website on the following link ihs.gov.

  2. Newsletters

There are few things that you have to understand before applying for IHS LRP such as the advice by the applicant, the advantage of LRP and for the better understanding of the program you can go through the PDFs of-

  • The Applicant Advisor PDF-389KB on the link ihs.gov.

  • Resource Advantage for LRP Participants PDF-348KB on the link ihs.gov.

  • Your Extension Insight PDF-262KB on the link ihs.gov.

For more details about the IHS LRP, you can contact the officials on-

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program 5600 Fishers Lane

Mail Stop: OHR (11E53A) Rockville, MD 20857

Phone: (301) 443-3396 Fax: (301) 443-4815 

Working hours 8:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST) Monday - Friday (except federal holidays).


7. Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) is offered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to encourage veterinarians to serve in a veterinarians shortage area. The NIFA will pay up to $25,000 each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians in exchange for three years of service in a veterinarian shortage situation.

Hence, the qualified veterinarians can receive financial aid of a total sum of up to $75,000 in loan repayment assistance for veterinary school loans. LRP pays off only the principal and interest on government and commercial loans. The LRP benefits are valid to only those loan holders who have received their degree in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. 

Are you eligible for VMLRP?

The criteria to be eligible for the VMLRP are-

  • You must have a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or equivalent from a college of veterinary medicine accredited by the AVMA Council on Education

  • Your loan to be qualified must be in accordance with 7 CFR 3431 section 3 

  • As per the Secretary, you must be an employee and/or maintain a practice in veterinary shortage situation as per the time period specified in the VMLRP service agreement offer.

  • You must provide certificates and verifications as stated in 7 CFR 3431 Section 16.

Who is ineligible for VMLRP?

The following situations make you ineligible to apply-

  • If you have a Federal judgment lien against your property due to Federal debt

  • If your total qualified debt does not fall in the debt limit of $15,000

  • If you owe an obligation to the Federal government, state or other entity for veterinary service are ineligible for the VMLRP. But you can be eligible if you fulfill your obligation prior to the beginning of service under the VMLRP.

NOTE: Please ensure your eligibility criteria by reviewing it before you submit your application for a service contract with the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VLMRP) as stated above. All eligible veterinarians are encouraged to apply for loan repayment. They indiscriminately encourage women, individuals from underrepresented groups and individuals with disabilities who fulfill the eligibility criteria to apply. 


Are you worried about your college tuition? Learn more about student loans


Who can participate in VLMRP?

The criteria to be eligible to participate in the VMLRP are-

  • You must be a U.S citizen, U.S Nationalist or permanent resident of the U.S

  • You must fulfill the eligibility criteria for applying to the VMLRP

  • You must be selected by the Secretary pursuant to participate as per the 7 CFR 3431 Section 12

  • You must be in a contract of service agreement to provide veterinary services in one of the veterinary shortage situations.

  • You must abide by all state and local regulations, as well as have appropriate license in the jurisdiction in which you practice. 

  • Abide by the terms and conditions of the Service Agreement.

Who is eligible for VMLRP?

Under the VMLRP, only the principal and interest on government and commercial loans are paid off. The LRP is eligible to only those who have received their degree in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent from an accredited college of veterinary medicine for which the loan was obtained. The loans made maybe for one of the following reasons- 

  1. Tuition expenses

  2. Other reasonable educational expenses and

  3. Reasonable living expenses, as outlined

For more details regarding the VMLRP can you refer the link nifa.usda.gov


8. Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation (FPLC)

Loan cancellation and loan forgiveness both mean the same it is a situation where the borrower is no longer obliged to pay back the remaining amount of the loan, however, loan cancellation generally refers to Perkins Loan Program. As the Federal Perkins loan is allocated by the Federal Government, they are comparatively easy to be forgiven or canceled than that of private student loans. Federal Perkins loan forgiveness under health care is available to selected health professionals stream. Below is the list.

The following health professions receive up to 100 percent of loan forgiveness-

  • A full-time nurse or medical technician 

  • A full-time qualified professional provider of early intervention services for the disabled.

  • A full-time speech-language pathologist who has a master’s degree working in a Title I-eligible elementary or secondary school who began service on or after 7/14/08

For more details, you can refer the official website in the link studentaid.ed.gov.


9. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is provided by the federal government on the Direct Student Loan of the public service employees. To be eligible for this program it is mandatory that you must have made 120 qualifying monthly payments (10 years loan payment) and not default on your loans. You must have a qualifying repayment loan while working for a qualifying employer.

A qualifying employee is the one who has rendered his services to-

  • Government organization at any level (federal, state, local or tribal)

  • Non-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code

  • Other types of non-profit organizations if their primary purpose is to provide certain types of qualifying public services that are not tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code 

  • AmeriCorps or Peace Corps serving as a full-time volunteer

The loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Federal Perkins Loan Program are not valid under PSLFP as they are not Direct loans but they may become eligible if you consolidate them into Direct Consolidation Loan. For the FFEL program and Perkins Loan any payments made before the consolidation are not included under the 120 qualifying loan payments.

As you must make 120 qualifying payments to become eligible for loan forgiveness, it will be 10 years before you can apply for PSLF. If you want to apply, you must fill out and submit the Employment Certification form to apply for PSLF annually or when you change your employers for the government to verify your qualifications for the loan forgiveness program.

For more details, you can refer to the official website in the link studentaid.ed.gov.


10. Student Loan Relief for Nurse (NCLRP)

The federal and state officials have come up with a number of ways to promote and encourage nurses by providing financial assistance through loan repayment and loan forgiveness programs to decrease their financial burden. Some of the programs that provide Student Loan Relief for Nurses are-

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)

Under this program licensed nurses, advanced practice registered nurses and nurse faculty members are eligible to apply. If accepted in exchange they have to work for two years in high medical need area for which the LRP will pay off 60% of unpaid nursing education loans. If you extend your service for the third year you will receive an additional 25% off on your outstanding balance. They do not provide loan forgiveness to part-time nurses. This program covers Stafford loans, Grad Plus loans, consolidation loans, Perkins loans, and private student loans.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

The NHSC provides LRP to only primary care nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and psychiatric nurse specialists. To be eligible you are required to work for at least two years at an NHSC approved Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) for which you will receive the funding depending on your community work needed in-

For the HPSA score of 0-13 the amount awarded for full-time workers is up to $30,000 and for half time workers is $15,000.

For the HPSA score of 14-26 the amount awarded for full-time workers is up to $50,000 and for half time workers is $25,000.

Under this program nurses interested in NHSC and NURSE Corps LRP can apply to both but can accept only one loan repayment. This program offers forgiveness for only part-time workers.

Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses

This program is eligible to the registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, medical assistants and American registered nursing practitioners. This program provides loan repayment based on the employment term. Here is how loan repayment is provided based on employment term-

  • 15% loan repayment after 2 years of full-time employment

  • 20% loan repayment after 4 years of full-time employment

  • 30% loan repayment after 5 years of full-time employment

  • 100% loan repayment after 5 years of full-time employment

This program provides 100% loan forgiveness which is two times faster than that of public service loan forgiveness. To avail for this programs, unlike other federal programs you can directly apply to the college that provided you Federal Perkins Loan.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

PSLF provides a loan forgiveness program for qualified nurses. Under the PSLF program, the government rewards full balance forgiveness on the direct loan provided on or after October 1, 2007. To be eligible for loan forgiveness the candidate along with being a full-time public service employee or a non-profit must make 120 monthly payments (10 years). 

For more details, you can refer to the official website in the link bhw.hrsa.gov.


11. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is sanctioned by the Congress. The program LRP offers loan repayment of up to $50,000 per year to health professionals with doctoral degrees like M.D., D.D.S., Ph.D., Dr.P.H. . To be eligible for the program the candidates must conduct health disparities or clinical research in non federal research sector. The candidate must offer at least two years of service to get benefited by the LRP. The program aims to increase the number of highly qualified researchers who work in health disparities research.

Two loan repayment opportunities are offered under the program-

  1. The Loan Repayment Program for Health Disparities Research (LRP-HDR) NOT-OD-19-118 backs the qualified health professionals engaged in basic, clinical, behavioral, social sciences, or health services research involving health disparities. As per the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Educational Act of 2000 (P.L.. 106-525), minimum 50 percent of the awardees must belong to health disparity population.

  2. The Extramural Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds (LRP-IDB) NOT-OD-19-119 backs the health professionals from financially disadvantaged backgrounds involved in clinical research. Here, clinical research refers to direct patient interaction and usually studies the origins or effects of a disease or health condition.

Are you eligible for NIMHD LRP? 

Following is the criteria to be eligible-

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen, U.S Nationalist or permanent resident of the U.S.

  • Qualifying Degree (Extramural programs only)- the candidate must possess a qualifying degree such as M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.P.M., D.C., N.D., O.D., D.V.M., or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited institution. A feature that makes the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP stand out is the exception of certain master’s degrees and certificates. Refer the Extramural Contraception and Infertility LRP page for more information on the link grants.nih.gov.

  • Qualified Educational Debt - to be eligible for the program you must have a qualified educational debt that must be equal to or in excess of 20 percent of your institutional base salary at the time of the grant. Institutional base salary refers to the annual amount you are paid for the service rendered on research, teaching, patient care or other activities. Institutional salary does not include any income earned outside the duties of the organization. However, it is not necessary for the renewal applicants to meet the 20 percent debt-to-income requirement.

  • Qualified Research - as per the terms and conditions you can indulge in only those research that is not abided by the Federal law, regulations, or policies of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or National Institutes of Health (NIH). To receive the LRP award you must conduct your research in accordance to Federal, State, and local law (e.g., applicable human subject protection regulations) for the complete contract period. In addition, you are also required to indulge in a minimum of 20 hours per week each quarter of your service period in qualified research during your LRP award. 

  • Domestic, nonprofit research funding - your researched must be backed by a domestic, nonprofit foundation, university, professional association, or other nonprofit institution, or a U.S. government agency (Federal, State, or Local). Your employment must be with a nonprofit institution. As per the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501) under Section 501 a domestic foundation, professional association, or institution is considered to be non-profit if it is exempt from Federal tax. NIH grants and university salaries are regarded as eligible funding.

For more details about eligibility, you can refer the link nimhd.nih.gov.

How to apply for NIMHD LRP?

Generally, the application period is annually from September 1 to November 15 at 8:00 PM EST. To learn about the application process you go through link lrp.nih.gov that provides interactive guidelines for easy understanding. To go through the application tips you can refer the link lrp.nih.gov. For more queries, you can call or email the LRP Information Center at 866-849-4047 or at lrp.nih.gov.


Additional information about NIMHD LRP

Generally, the loans from college, graduate and doctorate level education are eligible for repayment. During the program it is mandatory for the participants to indulge in research related to specific diseases, health conditions, and health issues applicable to health disparity populations or qualified clinical research or on research aimed at understanding the underlying causes and consequences of health disparities or interventions to reduce or eliminate health disparities. It is necessary for the candidate to spend at least 50 percent of their time or 20 hours per week on the research work.

The past candidates who have been qualified for the LRP conducted their research on cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, asthma, obesity, and kidney disease. Their investigation has helped them examine and gain insights on biological, lifestyle, environmental, social, economic, institutional, cultural, and family influences on health disparities.

Since its origination, the NIMHD LRP has provided financial aid of student loan repayment to more than 2,200 doctorate-level health professionals in a variety of disciplines, including medicine, epidemiology, psychology, social science, medicine, and health policy. As per the P.L 106-525, about 60 percent of the LRP beneficiaries are from minority populations.

NOTE: According to the P.L 106-525, it is mandatory to award no less than 50 percent of minority populations thereof this sentence reflects a conflation of two concepts.

For more details, you can refer to the official website in the link nimhd.nih.gov.


12. U.S Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Primary Care Loans

To access the Primary care loan programs you must pursue a degree in allopathic or osteopathic medicine. The programs provide long term as well as low-interest loans to full-time students who need financial aid. The students after completing their four years of graduation are required to complete their residency training in primary care and practice in primary care until the loan repayment is completed. Refer to the AAMC directory of state repayment programs that have active programs.

There are a number of programs through which you can receive the loan repayment or loan forgiveness opportunities. The programs through which you can receive the Primary Care Loans are-

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS Program)

The program provides grants to those schools that use the funding to provide scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have enrolled in health professions programs.

Following are the links directing to the guidelines for the SDS Program-

  • HRSA-16-069 Funding Opportunity Announcement: Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students bhw.hrsa.gov (PDF - 699 KB).

  • Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students Program Guidelines bhw.hrsa.gov (PDF-228 KB).

  • Poverty Guidelines (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) aspe.hhs.gov.

Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS Program)

The program funds the disadvantaged students who pursue their degree in allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, podiatry, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, or veterinary medicine. The program funds only those selected schools that provide long term, low-interest loans to eligible disadvantaged students.

For more details of the LDS program, you can refer to the link bhw.hrsa.gov  (PDF - 220 KB).

Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)

The program is eligible for students who are applying for full time or half time in dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatric, or veterinary medicine. The program funds the involved schools to offer long term as well as low-interest loans to needy students.

For more details of the program, you can refer to the link bhw.hrsa.gov  (PDF - 190 KB).

Nursing Student Loans (NSL)

The program is eligible for disadvantaged students who are pursuing a diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing. The program funds the involved schools long term and low-interest loans to full time eligible disadvantaged students. 

For more details of the program, you can refer to the link bhw.hrsa.gov (PDF- 532 KB).

Primary Care Loans (PCL)

The program is eligible for students pursuing a degree in allopathic or osteopathic medicine. The program funds the participating schools to provide long-term, low-interest rate loans to full time, needy students.

The third and fourth-year students have the benefit of increased loan repayment interest rate to repay their outstanding balances on the additional loans taken out while attending the school. 

Students who accept the loans must undertake the following-

  • After completion of graduation within four years, the student must enter and complete residency training in primary care 

  • Practice primary care until the loan is paid in full or for ten years, whichever occurs first.

For more details of the program, you can refer to the link bhw.hrsa.gov (PDF - 296 KB).


13. Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Programs 

The program provides loan repayment to the fully eligible trained clinicians in exchange for service. You may contact a recruiter at the branch of service that can provide you more information.

The armed forces have different programs. You can refer the following sites-

  • U.S Air Force airforce.com.

  • U.S Army goarmy.com.

  • U.S Navy med.navy.mil.

It is important to have an in-depth idea of all the programs available and what they offer before making a decision.