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NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Rural Community Loan Repayment Program is for providers working to combat the opioid epidemic in the nation’s rural communities.

The NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program will make loan repayment awards in coordination with the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). This will provide evidence-based substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, assist in recovery, and prevent overdose deaths across the nation.

In exchange for loan repayment, you must serve three years at an NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

Maternity Care Target Areas

In addition to awarding loan repayment program participants in HPSAs, we also will use designated Maternity Care Target Area (MCTA) scoring to distribute maternity care health professionals. MCTAs are located within primary care HPSAs.

Maternity care health professionals are obstetricians/gynecologists, family medicine physicians who practice obstetrics on a regular basis, and certified nurse midwives. Maternity care health professionals will be awarded using either the primary care HPSA or the MCTA score of their site, whichever is higher. Maternity care health professionals serving exclusively in mental HPSAs are not eligible to apply to the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program.

Which loan repayment program fits me best?

Compare our NHSC loan repayment programs — then choose the right one for you.

On this page:

New award enhancement for Spanish-language proficiency

For the 2024 NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program application cycle, we aim to address language access barriers to health care. To support this effort, we will provide a one-time enhancement award of up to $5,000 for a total loan repayment award of:

  • Up to $105,000 for full-time participants.
  • Up to $55,000 for half-time participants.

Award amounts are based on the outstanding balance of an applicant’s qualifying educational loans. Participants must complete the three-year service obligation regardless of the amount of their award. 

Who is eligible for the enhancement?

If you indicated that you have proficiency in Spanish on your application, after the application closes you will receive an email to complete a Spanish-language competency assessment. This assessment will be conducted by a vendor approved by the General Services Administration. To be eligible for the award enhancement, you must score at least three (3) on the assessment.

Note: If your loans are less than the maximum $100,000 (full-time) or $50,000 (half-time) award amounts, you will not receive the award enhancement even if you are eligible under the other criteria.

Determine your eligibility

Do I qualify for the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program?

Yes, you qualify if you are:

  • A United States citizen (U.S. born or naturalized) or the United States national.
  • A provider (or eligible to participate as a provider) in the Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, as appropriate.
  • Fully trained and licensed to practice in the discipline and state in which you are applying to serve. This page lists eligible disciplines for primary care medical, mental/behavioral health and maternity care.
  • A health professional in an eligible discipline with qualified student loan debt for education that led to your degree.
  • Working, or have accepted a position, at a rural NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility by the application deadline. (Facilities that have received RCORP funding will receive preference).
  • Using either your rural* NHSC-approved facility’s mental or primary care HPSA score.

*Use the Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer to find out what NHSC-approved SUD treatment facilities we consider rural.

*If you use assistive technology, you may not be able to access information in these files. For help, contact us at 800-221-9393.

New: You can now check your eligibility in the Bureau of Health Workforce Customer Service Portal. After you select Applying for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program on the main portal page, see the Eligibility box at the top of the page.

Are military reservists eligible?

Yes. Find out about specific guidelines and requirements for military reservists.

Which disciplines and specialties are eligible?

We offer awards to providers who use evidence-based treatment models to treat substance use disorders. Evidence-based SUD treatment helps fight this epidemic through specific eligibility.
You must be trained and licensed to provide SUD treatment at rural NHSC-approved evidenced-based SUD treatment facilities.

What is an NHSC-approved site?

An NHSC-approved site is a health care facility. It:

  • Provides complete outpatient services to people living in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
  • Meets NHSC site eligibility requirements and qualifications.

What is a rural NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility?

Facilities must meet requirements in:

How to apply

We guide you through the application and award process:

To apply for the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program, you must understand and follow our requirements.

Before you apply

It takes three weeks to complete an application. This includes required and supplemental documentation.

  • Provide answers in your application that match your supporting documents. If they don’t, we’ll reject your application.
  • You must submit a legible, complete online application by the deadline.
  • Save each document as a PDF file before uploading to your application. Do not attempt to upload files larger than 5MB, or files saved as TIFF, JPEG, PNG, HEIC, and TXT. 

How can my application receive priority?

You will receive priority if you:

  • Serve at an Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Consortium Member facility;
  • Have specialized training to provide SUD treatment (e.g., an X-waiver);
  • Have a license or certification in substance use disorder interventions, such as master’s-level substance use disorder counselors.

What makes an application complete?

You must include:

  • Online application;
  • Required supporting documents; and
  • Additional supplemental documentation (if applicable).

Application requirements

The following provides an overview of the application requirements. Find our complete set of requirements and instructions in the application and program guidance.

After you apply

After you submit your online application, you’ll see a receipt of submission.

How can I view my application and its status?

Log into the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) Customer Service Portal. You can view the status of your application, download a copy of your application, supporting documents, and completed EVs.

Can I make edits after I submit my application?

After you submit the online application, you may make edits, and upload new documents. Resubmit your final, complete application by the application deadline.

Can I withdraw my application?

Yes, you may withdraw your application from consideration any time before the Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS), or their designee, signs the contract.

How do you evaluate me?

We begin our review of all applications after the application deadline passes.

We use selection factors and funding priorities to evaluate you and determine who receives awards.

The NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program also has award priority factors.

Notifying award finalists

If you become an award finalist, we will email you and ask that you log into the BHW Customer Service Portal.

We will ask you to confirm:

  • Your continued interest in receiving an award.
  • The validity of the loan and employment information you provided us in your application.
  • That you have read and understand the Loan Repayment Program contract. (We ask you to sign this if you receive and accept an award.)

We ask you to provide:

Your direct deposit banking information. We use this for award funds if you receive an award.

Note: You must respond by the deadline we provide in the Confirmation of Interest email.

What if I don’t respond in time?

If you don't complete the Confirmation of Interest process by the deadline, we may withdraw your application from consideration.

If you still wish to participate in the program, you will need to submit a new application during a future NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program application cycle for first-time participants. You will compete with other providers based on that cycle’s program requirements.

Who makes award determinations?

Only the Secretary of HHS or their designee can make an NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program award.

When will you notify me of an award?

You will receive final notification of an award, including your service obligation dates, no later than September 30.

Will you notify me if you don't select me for an award?

Yes. If we don't select you for an award, we will email you no later than September 30.

NHSC Loan Repayment contract and service obligation

When does my service obligation begin?

Your NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program service obligation begins on the date that the HHS Secretary (or the Secretary's designee) countersigns your contract.

Can I terminate my contract?

The APG and your contract explain the timeline and requirements for terminating an NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program contract. If you terminate, you must repay all funds you receive under the contract.

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