Many national, state, and local governments, as well as some private organizations, sponsor service-based loan repayment programs. After completing residency, physicians are recruited to practice in specific areas.
Requirements vary, but in general, participants provide service for two to four years (depending on the number of years they received support) in exchange for living stipends and repayment of educational loans. The Armed Forces also offer similar programs. The following are a few examples of service-based loan repayment programs available to medical students and resident physicians.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
This program is designed to forgive student loan debt for employees of certain public and nonprofit organizations. If you are a full-time employee of a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible. After 120 qualifying monthly payments, which all must be made while working for an eligible organization, the remainder of your federal student debt is forgiven, with no further payment required. The program has very specific eligibility requirements and guidelines for monthly payment and criteria for loan forgiveness after meeting the 120 qualifying monthly payments.
Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program
The IHS Loan Repayment Program awards up to $40,000 for repayment of health profession student loans in exchange for an initial two years of service at an IHS program site. Loan repayment can only be applied to federal, state, local or commercial loans used to pay for the specific health profession program for which you will be hired to work. Participants are paid a salary in addition to the loan repayment and are eligible for extension beyond the initial two-year commitment if the loan amount has not yet been paid in full.
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHHD) Loan Repayment Program
The NIMHHD awards up to $50,000 for a minimum two-year commitment. This program offers 2 loan repayment opportunities: (1) for health professionals engaged in research addressing health disparities, and (2) for health professionals from financially disadvantaged backgrounds who conduct clinical research. During the program, participants must spend at least 50% of their time engaged in qualified research.
National Health Service Corp (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program
Eligible licensed health care providers are awarded money toward student loans in exchange for an initial two-year commitment at an NHSC-approved health care professional shortage area (HPSA) site. There are very specific criteria for eligibility and maximum funding, however, opportunities are available for part-time employment at lower repayment amounts. Applications are accepted from resident physicians, but recipients must possess a current, full, permanent, unencumbered, unrestricted health professional license before award is accepted.
Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program
Fully trained clinicians are eligible for loan repayment in exchange for service in an armed forces community. Contact a recruiter at the branch of service that interests you for more information.
American Academy of Pediatrics