There is no denying that the price of attending medical school is becoming increasingly expensive. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in 2021, nearly 89% of medical school students graduated with more than a whopping $200,000 in debt.
This automatically puts them on a 25-year grind to repay their loans. Nonetheless, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HSRA) believes that this should not be the norm.
Thus, to help medical providers escape the shackles of their debt, HSRA has designed several loan repayment and scholarship programs. These schemes are expected to create a butterfly effect, where medical school graduates can eventually provide better care to their communities.
HSRA, through the American Rescue Plan, has committed $1 million for these opportunities. Medical, dental, nursing, and other physician students are encouraged to tap into this funding.
Here is the complete list of loan repayment and scholarship programs provided by HRSA:
1. NHSC Scholarship Program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) awards scholarships to trainees of primary care health professions. The NHSC Scholarship Program provides financial aid for the educational expenses of its recipients who are also known as NHSC Scholars.
They can use the money towards their training in a qualified primary care health professions program for up to four years. Other expenses include reasonable miscellaneous educational costs, such as disability insurance, immunizations, and laptop purchases.
To be considered for this scholarship, you must be:
- A U.S. citizen or a U.S. national
- Attending or being accepted to attend an accredited program or school in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory
- A full-time student or a student accepted for admission
- Pursuing one of the eligible disciplines, including physician assistant, physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwifery
- Eligible for federal employment
Click here to learn more about or apply to the program.
2. Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship
If you are a Native Hawaiian pursuing a career in behavioral and primary health sciences, consider checking out the Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program. This scholarship recognizes those in one of the following occupations:
- Clinical psychologist
- Dental hygienist
- Dietitian or nutritionist
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician or physician assistant
- Social worker
Once you are designated as the winner of this scholarship, you will be required to provide health care services to Native Hawaiians and marginalized individuals residing in rural and high-need communities in the Aloha State. You must serve between two to four years.
In return for your hard work, you will receive financial assistance such as tuition payments, a monthly stipend, and a separate fund to address education-related needs. However, keep in mind that this is a taxable scholarship.
You will be eligible for this award if you:
- Are of Hawaiian descent
- Pursue one of the aforementioned health professions
- Are enrolled full-time at an accredited higher education institution
Learn more about or apply to this program by clicking here.
3. HRSA Faculty Loan Repayment Program
Suppose you are a faculty member. In that case, you may be qualified for a partial repayment of your $40,000 student loan for a maximum of two years. But here is the catch: You will be required to serve at a health professions school.
Among the recognized fields are:
- Behavioral and mental health
- Dental hygiene
Aside from loan repayment assistance, you will receive funding to compensate for the tax burden.
If you are geared up to carry on with your commitment, you can extend your contract. To be eligible for this faculty loan repayment, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or national of the U.S.
- Come from a disadvantaged background, be it environmentally or economically disadvantaged
- Be a faculty member at your school
Those interested in the program can find more details here.
4. Nurse Corps Scholarship Program
Students currently pursuing nursing degrees from accredited schools in the U.S. should apply to the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. This scholarship provides needy students with a generous financial package.
The scholarship winners will then be required to serve at a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) once they graduate. Their services will immensely help many Americans who lack access to necessary health care.
Recognized schools and programs include:
- Associate Degree School of Nursing (ADN)
- Collegiate School of Nursing
- Diploma School of Nursing
- Graduate-Level Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Bridge Program
The eligibility requirements for a Nurse Corps Scholarship Program are:
- United States citizenship or United States nationality
- Admission to a nursing degree program at an accredited United States school
- Absence of federal judgment liens, current service commitments, and overdue federal debt
To apply to the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program, visit this webpage.
5. NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
Are you a student in your final year of medical, nursing, or dental school? If so, you may be considered for Students to Service Loan Repayment by NHSC! Unlike most loan repayment and scholarship programs on this list, this plan is exempt from federal income and employment taxes.
The best part is that you may have the opportunity to receive up to $120,000 to be paid towards your annual installment for four years if you meet the requirements.
As part of the generous support you have received, NHSC, the sponsor of this program, will expect you to serve a site in a health professional shortage area (HPSA). To become eligible for this program, you must plan to obtain a license for one of these occupations:
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
Check the other requirements of this program here.
6. NHSC Loan Repayment Program
NHSC also offers a loan repayment program for primary care clinicians in disciplines such as primary care medicine, dental care, and mental and behavioral health.
Those in one of these fields and working at an NHSC-approved site have the opportunity to receive financial assistance according to the term of their service: two years part- or full-time. Awards vary between $25,000 and $50,000 for each of the main terms.
The good news is that this loan repayment program is also available to military reservists. To qualify, you must be:
- A U.S. resident or national of the U.S.
- A medical provider in Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Licensed to practice in the field and state you are applying to serve
- A health professional who qualifies for student loans
Find more details about the program here.
7. NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program
As the name suggests, this initiative is available to individuals working in a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment facility. It aims to address labor shortages in areas of need and to combat the country’s opioid crisis.
More specifically, prizes will be awarded to providers who implement evidence-based approaches to treating SUDs. Therefore, applicants must be licensed to provide evidence-based SUD treatment at NHSC facilities.
Qualified clinicians will receive up to $75,000 to repay their student loans provided they are willing to serve at NHSC-approved sites for three years. Candidates can choose to serve either on a part- or full-time basis for their term.
A complete guide to the program is available on this webpage.
8. NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program
Last but not least, NHSC also offers a loan repayment program for those specifically tasked with fighting the opioid epidemic in rural communities. This program is made possible through a partnership between NHSC and the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP).
Eligible clinicians may receive up to $100,000 for full-time service or $50,000 for half-time service, to repay outstanding, qualifying, educational loans. Also, a flexible term is available to the selected providers. They can choose to serve a rural SUD facility for three years on either a part- or full-time basis.
This program is only available to those who are fully trained to practice. Most importantly, candidates are providers under Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
You can learn more about the program by clicking here.
Now that you have found one of the above loan repayment and scholarship programs that you may be eligible for, it is time to get your application ready. Visit HRSA’s official website for an in-depth guide to the opportunities of your choice.