NHSC Loan Repayment: As a medical practitioner, debt still has an effect on you. It can be tough managing your job and your student loan, but you should know there is hope. Working in a healthcare center, there are a few student loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs for you.
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program is one of those programs just for you. NHSC offers loan repayment for qualified health care providers who choose to use their skills where they are most needed.
The program is open to licensed primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health providers who are employed or have accepted an offer of employment at an NHSC-approved site. In this guide, I will be highlighting in details everything you need to know.
NHSC Loan Repayment Program
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program offers up to $50,000 in Student Loan Forgiveness benefits to eligible; Primary Care Medical, Dental or Mental/Behavioral Health Clinicians willing to work at an NHSC approved facility.
This program offers some of the best student loan forgiveness benefits around. And because it’s open to all sorts of different healthcare workers, offering benefits far above and beyond the typical Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs.
Professions that are eligible include:
- Primary care medical
- Mental and behavioral
NHSC Qualifying Disciplines
According to its program info sheet, the following disciplines qualify:
- Certified Nurse-Midwife
- Dental Hygienist
- Dentistry (DDS,DMD)
- Family Medicine
- General Internal Medicine
- General Psychiatry
- Health Service Psychologist
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Mental and Behavioral Health
- Nurse Practitioner (adult, family, pediatric)
- Obstetrics/ Gynecology
- Physician (MD/DO)
- Physician Assistant
- Psychiatric/ Mental Health
- Psychiatric Nurse Specialist
- Women’s Health
NHSC Eligible Student Loans
The nice thing about the NHSC LRP program is that almost all loans will qualify for participation, including both Federal and Private student loans, which is a big deal because most programs only offer assistance for Federal debt.
Eligible Loans Must Be:
- Obtained to cover actual school costs, like tuition, fees, etc., or some other costs associated with attending school, like living expenses while you were earning your degree
- Provided by a Federal, state, or Local Entity, or Commercial Institution (can’t be a casual loan from a parent, a friend, etc.)
Eligible Loans Must NOT Be:
- Fully paid, or in default status
- Obtained to cover expenses by someone other than the applicant (like Parent PLUS Loans)
- Personal lines of credit, credit card debt, and debt related to relocation or residency programs
How Much NHSC Loan Repayment Funding is Available?
The NHSC loan repayment program offers competitive student loan repayment assistance funding. How much you qualify for depends on the site you work and if you’re a full-time or half-time employee.
As a half-time Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) site employee, a score of 0 to 13 qualifies you for up to $15,000 in student loan assistance. That award jumps to $25,000 if you work at an HPSA with a score of 14 to 26.
If you work full-time at an HPSA, you can get up to $30,000 with a score of 0 to 13. With a score of 14 to 26 you may qualify for up to $50,000. HPSAs are scored based on discipline, typically based on percentage of population and access, amount of people below the federal poverty level and travel time to resources.
Applying for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program
The most important consideration for potential applicants is to apply early, because the applications process is a little involved, and anything missing from your application will mean you aren’t eligible for the benefit.
And the easiest way to apply will be to follow the NHSC’s official Application Checklist, which they update each year, and which you can find here.
Before you start your application, you’ll want to make sure you’ve already figured out everything related to the program; like making sure that your skills and certification are all set and that you have identified NHSC facility.
Below are list of things to do when applying for the NHSC;
- Read the full Application and Program Guidance document (here)
- Verify your eligibility based on the conditions I’ve outlined above
- Make sure that you understand fully what the service commitment actually entails
- Review the different types of NHSC sites to make sure that your place of employment qualifies, and has a score high enough to get the benefit level.
- Collect all the documents you’ll need to submit as part of your application
- Participate in optional technical assistance phone calls or webinars, where the NHSC walks you through details of the program, outlining certain steps and answering questions
- Make absolutely certain that you meet the NHSC Clinical Practice Requirements
- Submit your application before the deadline!
Note that application date for 2019 is February 21st, 2019 at 7:30 PM. So it has expired for this year, but you can visit the website for more official update.
Assess how much student loan debt you have and how much progress you’ll make paying off your loans under this program. For example, if you have $50,000 or slightly more, you can obliterate your loans through NHSC and be done with your debt.