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NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

To combat the nation’s opioid crisis, HRSA launched the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program.

The most effective treatment for opioid addiction is a comprehensive approach that incorporates medication and behavioral health counseling.

The program supports the recruitment and retention of health professionals needed in underserved areas to expand access to SUD treatment and prevent overdose deaths.

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 SUD Workforce 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 loan repayment programs application cycle, we aim to address language access barriers to healthcare. To support this effort, we will provide a one-time award enhancement of up to $5,000 for a total loan repayment award of:

  • Up to $80,000 for full-time participants.
  • Up to $42,500 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 a three (3) on the assessment.

Note: If your loans are less than the maximum $75,000 (full-time) or $37,500 (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 SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Program?

You qualify if you meet these requirements:

  • A United States citizen (U.S. born or naturalized) or a 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 NHSC-eligible discipline and state in which you are applying to serve. This page lists eligible disciplines and specialties for primary care, dental care and mental/behavioral health care and maternity care.
  • A health professional in an eligible discipline with qualified student loan debt for education that led to your degree.
  • Working at an NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility with a HPSA score that would ordinarily be too low to qualify for NHSC funding.
  • Using either your NHSC-approved site’s mental or primary care HPSA score.

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 NHSC-approved evidenced-based SUD treatment facilities.

How to apply

We guide you through the application and award process:

To apply, you must understand and follow our requirements.

Before you apply

On average, it takes three weeks to complete an application. That includes all required and supplemental documentation and access to a credit report (failure/refusal to unfreeze a frozen credit report will deem your application ineligible).

  • Provide answers in your application that match your supporting documents. If they don’t, we’ll reject your application.
  • Submit a legible, complete online application—including all supporting documents—by the application 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:

  • Have specialized training to provide SUD treatment.
  • Serve in an opioid treatment program.
  • 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.
  • 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 to view your application status. Use the BHW Customer Service Portal to download a copy of your application, supporting documents, or 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. You must make all edits and resubmit your final 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 various selection factors and funding priorities to evaluate applicants of the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, and eventually determine who receives awards.

Additionally, the NHSC SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Program has priority factors for awards.

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 e-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 do not 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 SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Program application cycle for first-time participants and 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 SUD Workforce 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 do not 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 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 SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Program contract. If you terminate, you must repay all funds you receive under the contract.

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

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