At this point in your medical career, you would probably wish for your fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make your student loans disappear. As wonderful as that thought is, it’s probably not a very sound strategy for medical loan forgiveness.
One option which does exist in the real world is loan forgiveness for certain types of health care. There are certain states which have programs specifically for physicians and which ultimately lead to student loan forgiveness or repayment.
Why focus on medical school debt in the first place? The latest figures show a physician will graduate with undergraduate and medical school loans somewhere in the neighborhood of $194,000. For most people, this is a gigantic sum of money. You will need a strategy for debt repayment (and hopefully loan forgiveness) which doesn’t involve wishful thinking.
It would take quite a long time to figure out each state on your own, so we’ve put together this resource guide to help you cut to the chase.
Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs and Repayment Plans
Before we jump into the states and their specific medical loan forgiveness programs, we should briefly review the federal loan forgiveness opportunities.
By now, most physicians have heard basic details of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, or PSLF for short. What you may not realize is the PSLF (and other programs) are separate from the state plans listed below.
In addition to the PSLF, there is a federal program called the National Health Service Corp. This program also provides loan forgiveness, based on meeting the requirements. It offers loan repayment for those who are willing to practice in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA’s).
The Requirements for Loan Forgiveness
You will have to be licensed to practice in each of the respective states. Each program has very specific qualifications and requirements, which you will need to thoroughly read.
And definitely mark the dates on your calendar! Some states have specific time periods where you can apply for the programs. But despite the requirements, this could be a real path to loan repayment for you.
States With Medical Loan Forgiveness Programs
Almost all states – and the District of Columbia – offer some type of student loan forgiveness program. However, some of these programs are for other sectors such as teaching, dentistry, or legal. This list is focused on medical loan forgiveness only for physicians.
Let’s jump in and give you the information. If your state is not listed then it means there is not a loan forgiveness program specifically for physicians.
Alaska has the SHARP II – Health Care Professions Loan Repayment and Incentive Program. The physician must practice in a designated health care shortage area as well as with primarily Medicaid patients. It requires a 3 year commitment.
The amount you receive depends on your specialty.
If you’re a Primary Care Provider, Arizona offers multiple incentive opportunities for loan repayment. Arizona requires a 2-year commitment.
California has an educational loan repayment program for those physicians who commit to practice medicine in the underserved areas of California (either in a public or non-profit setting). The commitment is for at least two years and maxes out at four years.
You can receive up to $50,000 in loan repayment.
The Colorado Health Service Corp offers loan forgiveness for physicians who practice in underserved areas. You must offer primary health care services, as well as work in a non-profit or public setting. While you can work full-time or part-time, the commitment is for 3 years.
You can receive up to $90,000 in loan forgiveness.
Delaware offers forgiveness for those physicians working in the Primary Health Care field or Mental Health specialty. You also have to work in an underserved area. There are many requirements to qualify for the loan forgiveness.
You can receive up to $100,000 in loan forgiveness.
The state of Georgia offers the Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Program. With a two year commitment and an agreement to work in less populated areas, you can receive loan forgiveness through this program.
This program pays out $25,000 annually, with a maximum of $100,000.
Hawaii offers loan forgiveness through their Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program. According to the HSLRP website, this program “is a federal grant to pay off educational loans for primary care and behavioral health providers who care for patients at non-profit organizations in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas of Hawaii.”
The approved Primary Care Specialties are Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Ob/GYN, and Geriatrics. It requires a 2-year commitment.
The Idaho Student Loan Repayment Program offers loan forgiveness to physicians who agree to work in underserved areas. You must also work for a public or non-profit entity.
The state of Iowa offers the Rural Iowa Primary Loan Repayment Program for those willing to practice in rural areas. The commitment is up to 5 years.
The amount of loan forgiveness is up to $200,000.
Kansas offers the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program. The program is limited to Primary Care Health Care Professionals.
The loan forgiveness is up to $105,000.
The Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program offers a chance to earn repayment for physicians who make a 2-year commitment. The practice must be in areas designated as health care shortage areas.
The amount of funding is up to $35,000 per year for up to 2 years.
The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program is for those who practice in the Primary Health Care field. The physician must work in a designated health care shortage area. It is a 3 year minimum commitment period.
The repayment amount is $30,000 annually for up to 3 years.
Maine offers the Maine Health Professions Loan Program Forgiveness. It is available to physicians who complete a Maine primary care residency and practice primary care in a health care professional shortage area or provide services to an underserved group.
Massachusetts offers a loan repayment program for professionals working in the Primary Care and Mental Health fields. Like other states, you will have to practice in underserved areas, typically with lower populations.
The amount of repayment varies.
Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) pays forgiveness for physicians willing to commit and practice in designated shortage areas. You commit in 2-year increments, for a maximum of eight years. You also have to work at a non-profit practice site.
This program offers up to $200,000 in repayment.
This state offers the Minnesota Rural Physician Loan Forgiveness Program. This program repays student loans in exchange for your commitment to work in a rural area where there is a shortage of health care professionals. They offer this for both Primary Care workers as well as Mental Health Specialists.
Repayment is $25,000 annually – up to 4 years.
The Missouri Health Professional State Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment for Primary Care physicians who serve in designated shortage areas.
A 2-year commitment provides up to $50,000 in loan repayment.
The Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program (MRPIP) provides loan repayments for physicians who work in areas which have been determined to have a shortage.
Montana uses a graduated payment system. You will receive loan repayment starting at 6 months of practicing, up to 5 years. Each 6-month increment will receive an incentive, which will gradually increase the longer you commit.
With the Nebraska Loan Repayment program, Primary Health Care Professionals have the opportunity to receive loan repayment if you practice in an area with a physician shortage.
You could be eligible for up to $60,000 per year for a maximum of two years.
The Nevada Health Service Corps offers loan repayment to all MD doctors of allopathic medicine. The physician must serve in an underserved area – typically for two years.
The amount of funding varies per each applicant and is dependant on the state funding at the time.
The New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment for physicians who practice in areas which are deemed as medically underserved. The commitment is a minimum of 3 years with an opportunity to extend an additional 2 years.
The loan repayment is $75,000 for the first 3 years, with $40,000 for the additional 2-year commitment.
The Primary Care Physician & Dentist Loan Redemption Program offers loan repayment to physicians who agree to practice in medically underserved areas. The commitment to practice is 2 to 4 years.
The loan repayment amount is up to $120,000, subject to funding availability for the state.
The Regents Physician Loan Forgiveness Award Program is offered for Primary Care physicians who practice in areas with physician shortages.
The loan repayment amount is $10,000 per year, up to 2 years.
The Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program offers student loan repayment to physicians who commit to practicing in both rural or underserved communities. This program is for Primary Care providers and requires a minimum of a 2-year commitment.
The loan repayment is a graduated payment program. You receive $160,000 maximum for four years: $25,000 the first year, $35,000 the second year, $45,000 the third year and $55,000 for the final year.
A relatively new program, the Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Program and is setup differently compared to other states. As a Primary Care physician, you may be eligible for loan repayment if you agree to practice in underserved communities.
As a medical student, you can be eligible for loan forgiveness if you agree to commit at a future date (must be 90 days after graduation). You will practice in a rural area.
The amount of repayment or loan forgiveness varies.
The Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program offers repayment for Primary Care Health professionals willing to work in Community Health Centers or in underserved areas.
Fourth-year medical students might be eligible for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment which provides loan repayment for a future commitment.
Both programs offer assistance from $25,000 to $100,000 depending on the length of time.
The Rhode Island Educational Loan Repayment Program for Primary Care Providers is a program designed to recruit Primary Care providers to Rhode Island.
Please note – funding for the program has been exhausted for this year and Rhode Island is not currently accepting applications for this program.
Loan repayment offers $20,000 annually for four years when the program resumes.
Texas offers The Physician Education Loan Repayment Program (PELRP) for loan assistance. This is for Primary Care Health Care Providers who commit to practicing in designated health care shortage areas or Correctional facilities. Requires up to four consecutive years of commitment.
Texas also offers a program for physicians who are not serving in a shortage area or correctional facility, but whose practice is mainly for Medicaid or Healthy Texas Women Program patients.
Assistance is up to $160,000 over a period of four years for both programs.
The Vermont Educational Loan Program for Primary Care Practitioners offers loan repayment for Primary Care Health Care providers. You must agree to a 2-year commitment.
Repayment is $20,000 annually, for 2 years.
The Commonwealth of Virginia participates in The Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Service (BCRS) Grants to States for Loan Repayment. This is a maximum of a 4-year commitment to practice in designated health care shortage areas.
Loan repayment is up to $140,000 for 4 years.
Washington offers the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. This program is available for all MD’s who agree to a 2-year commitment. You must also practice in underserved or rural areas.
Loan repayment is $35,000 annually for 2 years.
The West Virginia State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) offers loan repayment for practicing Primary Care Physicians. The Primary Care Health Care provider must agree to a 2-year commitment. This program is not always available due to lack of funding.
Loan assistance is $40,000 for the first 2 years and up to $90,000 for a 4-year commitment.
Wisconsin offers two programs for assistance: The Health Professions Loan Assistance Program and the Rural Physician Loan Assistance Program. One is for those working in a designated health care shortage area. The other program is for those practicing in a rural area. You can be eligible for both. You must commit to practicing for 3 years.
Each program pays up to $50,000 towards loan repayment.
The Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program is for physicians who practice in designated health care shortage areas. This requires a 2-year commitment.
The program pays up to $40,000.
The DC Health Professional Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment for physicians who practice in designated health care shortage areas or medically underserved areas. It is a minimum of 2 years of commitment, with a maximum of 4 years.
Loan repayment amount is $151,841.29 over four years.