7 FAQs on NHSC Scholarship for Health and Medicine Students

Education in healthcare and medical support doesn’t need to put you into debt. For starters, you can try to apply for the NHSC Scholarship presented by the US National Health Service Corps to help you cover your tuition fees. Furthermore, this program also offers various kinds of support to its recipients (also known as NHSC Scholars) in addition to fresh money.

NHSC Scholarship
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Check out the list below of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the NHSC Scholarship. Besides, you will get a wide variety of beneficial information starting from how it works to the requirements that you must meet to be deemed as a viable NHSC Scholar.

But first, let’s find out a little bit about NHSC, the pioneer behind the award.

About NHSC

The National Health Service Corps is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce. It builds healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care.

Aside from that, NHSC also provides scholarships and loan repayment to healthcare professionals practicing at approved sites located in/or serving Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) throughout the United States.

The scholarship program provides for students’ reasonable educational expenses (tuition, books, and other required services like health insurance) and a monthly stipend for room and board. After school (and residency for medical, osteopathic medical, and dental students) the student must apply for pre-approved positions in underserved areas.

For that reason, the student must apply just like any job applicant. If the applicant chooses a specialty other than primary care or otherwise does not fulfill the service requirement, he/she must repay the government 3 times the investment with interest.

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On the other hand, the loan repayment program works similarly; however, the students apply for the program after school and the NHSC repays up to $50,000 every two years. Also, there is the option to work in an NHSC approved location for 5 years, which entitles the student to potentially receive $170,000 in loan repayment. Besides, there are a greater number of available positions because the criteria are less stringent.

The legislative battle to establish the NHSC was the subject of the book, “The Dance of Legislation” by Eric Redman.

NHSC Scholarship FAQs

Not a few prospective NHSC Scholarship applicants pick holes in many aspects, especially regarding the program application procedure. What should they prepare before applying? When should they submit applications for the NHSC Scholarship? For that purpose, we have compiled a number of the most frequently asked questions regarding the program below. Also, we share the best answers to clear your confusion.

What is NHSC Scholarship?

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (NHSC SP) awards The NHSC SP is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NHSC SP is a competitive federal program that awards scholarships to students pursuing eligible primary care health professions training leading to:

  • A degree in medicine (allopathic or osteopathic);
  • A degree in dentistry; or
  • A postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate from a school or program in nurse-midwifery education, physician assistant (PA) education, or nurse practitioner (NP) education specializing in adult medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatric-mental health, or women’s health.

In return for scholarship awards, scholars commit to providing primary care health services to underserved communities. Moreover, the program provides support to students who seek financial assistance to complete primary care health professions education.

How competitive is the NHSC Scholarship?

The NHSC scholarship application process is highly competitive. Each year, there are more than 1,800 applications from hundreds of schools from across the country. Approximately 10 percent of the applicants receive the scholarship award.

How much support can recipients get?

Recipients commit to a minimum of two years of full-time service in exchange for a full year of scholarship support.

Also, they must serve at an NHSC-approved site in an HPSA. The total number of years they serve will depend on the number of school years of NHSC SP support they received. However, this cannot exceed four school years.

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What are the benefits of becoming an NHSC scholar?

The benefits of the NHSC SP are:


Scholars will join the thousands of current and former NHSC clinicians who provide primary health care services to communities in need.

Payment of Educational Expenses

NHSC SP provides the following financial support for full-time enrollment in an eligible primary care health professions degree training program for up to four (4) school years:

  • Payment of tuition and eligible fees;
  • Annual payment for other reasonable educational costs; and
  • Monthly stipends to assist with living expenses while pursuing the health professions degree educational training program.

NHSC Loan Repayment Program Eligibility

Most importantly, recipients may be eligible to apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) once they complete their NHSC SP service commitment.

How can I be eligible for an NHSC Scholarship?

To be eligible for a scholarship, all applicants must:

1. Be a U.S. citizen (either U.S. born or naturalized) or U.S. national

To be eligible for an NHSC scholarship, applicants must present proof of U.S. citizenship or status as a U.S. national. Thus, this may include a copy of a birth certificate issued by a city, county, or state agency in the United States, the identification page of a valid U.S. passport, or a certificate of citizenship or naturalization.

Therefore, a permanent resident card, driver’s license, marriage certificate, or social security card is not acceptable proof of U.S. citizenship or status as a U.S. national.

2. Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a full-time student

To be considered for a scholarship award for the 2021-2022 school year, classes must begin on or before September 30th, 2021.

Thus, applicants planning to be on a leave of absence from school that will preclude full-time class attendance on or before September 30th, 2021, should not submit an application this year but may apply for the 2022-2023 academic year.

A full-time student is defined as a student enrolled for a sufficient number of credit hours in any academic term to complete the course of study within the number of academic terms normally required at the school.

That being said, any courses that are not required to complete the qualifying degree program will not count toward the hours required for full-time status and will not be supported by NHSC SP.

3. Be attending or accepted to attend one of the following accredited schools or programs located in a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory

  1. A school of allopathic or osteopathic medicine, pursuing an M.D. or D.O. degree; and
  2. Accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges) or the American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.
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  1. A school of dentistry, pursuing a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree; and
  2. Accredited by the American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation.
Nurse Practitioner
  1. A school or program of nurse practitioner education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate;
  2. Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; and
  3. Leading to national certification as a nurse practitioner specializing in adult medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, primary care pediatrics, psychiatric-mental health, or women’s health by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.
  1. A school or program of nurse-midwifery education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate;
  2. Accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Division of Accreditation; and
  3. Leading to national certification by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Physician Assistant
  1. A school or program of primary care physician assistant education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate;
  2. Accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant and the affiliated school must be accredited by a U.S. Department of Education nationally recognized regional or state institutional accrediting agency; and
  3. Leading to national certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

4. Attend a school located in a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory

Eligible schools and educational programs for which scholarship support is available must be in a state (includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia).

Therefore, students attending schools outside of these geographic areas are not eligible for NHSC scholarships, even though they may be citizens or nationals of the United States.

5. Be eligible for federal employment

In fact, most NHSC scholars should expect to serve their obligations as salaried, non-federal employees of public or private entities approved by the NHSC SP. However, there may be vacancies that require federal employment, including security clearance.

In light of the potential for federal employment, an applicant must be eligible to hold an appointment as a Commissioned Officer of the Public Health Service or be eligible for a federal civil service appointment.

6. Not have an existing service obligation

Applicants who are already obligated to a federal, state, or other entity for professional practice or service after academic training are not eligible for NHSC scholarship awards unless the entity to which the obligation is owed provides a written statement satisfactory to the Secretary of HHS that:

  1. There is no potential conflict in fulfilling the NHSC SP obligation and the entity’s obligation; and
  2. The NHSC SP obligation will be served first.

7. Submit a complete application

Each applicant must complete an online application and submit the following documents:

  • A resume,
  • Two letters of recommendation,
  • A report verifying acceptance or enrollment in good standing in an eligible health professions school, and
  • School transcripts.

Also, each applicant must respond to three (3) essay questions.

When to apply for NHSC Scholarship?

In truth, the National Health Service Corps receives many qualified applications. Hence, to ensure a complete review, applicants must submit their applications as early as possible.

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