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Historic level of funding available to help clinicians pay off student loan

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(BPT) - The National Health Service Corps (NHSC), a federal government program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), received a historic $800 million from the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden to support the largest clinician workforce in the program’s nearly 50-year history. The NHSC Loan Repayment Program helps medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health clinicians pay off their student loan debt in exchange for working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) — or a defined geographic area with too few providers.

“This historic program funding for NHSC means that we will provide a record number of loan repayment awards for eligible clinicians,” says Dr. Luis Padilla, associate administrator of HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) and director of NHSC. “Every community has felt COVID-19’s effects and this will allow NHSC applicants to serve in communities where they may not have been competitive to receive an award before due to sites with lower HPSA scores.”

The NHSC is currently taking applications for three NHSC Loan Repayment Programs until May 6, 2021. Eligible disciplines include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, behavioral/mental health clinicians, and more. Qualified clinicians may receive up to $100,000 in educational loan repayment, depending on the award.

Providers may apply for one of three NHSC loan repayment programs:

1) NHSC Loan Repayment Program

This two-year commitment program supports clinicians with up to $50,000 to pay off their student loan debt in exchange for service at an NHSC-approved site.

2) NHSC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce Loan Repayment Program

This three-year commitment supports the recruitment and retention of health professionals with up to $75,000. Providers must be working to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, expand access to evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment, and prevent overdose deaths in underserved areas. Applicants must work at an NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility located in a HPSA.

3) NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program

This three-year commitment addresses the pressing need for qualified SUD providers in rural communities and awards up to $100,000 in loan repayment funds. Applicants must work at a NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility located in a rural HPSA.

Making an Impact

Currently, over 17 million people receive care from the more than 16,000-strong NHSC network of clinicians serving in urban, rural and tribal areas. Since the NHSC began, more than 63,000 primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral health professionals have served. By working with the NHSC, clinicians can help ensure access to health care for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, prevent disease and illness, and care for the nation’s most vulnerable people.

To learn more and apply for NHSC’s Loan Repayment Program, visit NHSC.HRSA.gov/loan-repayment/.

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