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Understand Students to Service Loan Repayment Program Leave Policies

NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) participants must follow a set of rules. These include rules about temporary and permanent leave.

Following these requirements avoids a breach of contract and ensures we don't disqualify you from the possibility of signing a continuation contract with us.

How to take temporary leave from your NHSC site

If you work full-time, you may not spend any more than 35 full-time workdays per service year away from the NHSC-approved site.

If you work half-time, you may not spend any more than 35 half-time workdays per service year away from the NHSC-approved site.

This applies to vacation, holidays, continuing professional education, illness, or any other reason.

Note: The above only pertains to compliance with your S2S LRP service commitment. Your site is responsible for granting you any type of leave.

What about maternity, paternity, or adoption leave?

We will automatically approve maternity/paternity/adoption leave of 12 weeks or fewer, if you document the leave in the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Note: You must also adhere to the leave policies of your NHSC-approved site.

How to take temporary leave from service

Under certain circumstances, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) can put your S2S LRP service or payment obligation on hold.

If you are in compliance with your service commitment:

Submit suspension requests through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Note: Periods of approved suspension of service will extend your service commitment end date.

How to take permanent leave from your NHSC site

If you feel you can no longer continue working at your current NHSC-approved site, discuss the situation and/or concerns with your NHSC-approved site management and contact us immediately through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Note: If you leave your NHSC-approved site(s) without our prior approval we may place you in default.

Default would begin the date you stopped providing patient care. You would then become liable for the monetary damages specified in your S2S LRP contract.

How can you request a transfer to a different NHSC site?

Submit a transfer request through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

We must approve the site change and process the request prior to you beginning work at the new site.

If you are serving in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)—a HPSA with a score of 14 or above—you must transfer to another NHSC-approved site in a high-need HPSA.

What if you experience a period of unemployment?

Whether you resign or your NHSC-approved site(s) terminates you, contact us immediately through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

If eligible for a transfer, we will give you a certain timeframe in which to obtain employment at an NHSC-approved site.

Note: Approval of a transfer or reassignment is at our discretion, and available service opportunities may not be in your preferred geographic area.

How to take permanent leave from service

Immediately contact us—via the BHW Customer Service Portal—if a situation arises that may result in you being unable to begin or complete your S2S LRP service commitment—a breach of contract.

A Breach of Contract while in School

You will be liable to the U.S. Government for the repayment of all S2S LRP funds paid to you, if you:

  • Are dismissed from school for academic or disciplinary reasons;
  • Voluntarily terminate your academic training before graduation; or
  • Are a physician who enrolls in, but fails to complete, a required postgraduate training program (including withdrawals from such programs).

You must pay the amount owed in full within one year of the date of default.

Note to Dentists: If you elect not to pursue postgraduate training, or you enroll in, but fail to complete an approved dental residency or fellowship, we will not place you in default. However, we do expect you to begin service.

A Breach of Contract after School

If you:

  • Fail to enroll in a required postgraduate training program;
  • Fail to comply with the terms and conditions of deferment; or
  • Complete an approved postgraduate training program but subsequently fail to begin, or complete, your obligation to serve in a full- or half-time clinical practice;

You will be liable to the Government for an amount equal to the sum of the following:

  • The amount of the loan repayments paid to you representing any period of obligated service not completed;
  • $7,500 (for full-time) or $3,750 (for half-time) multiplied by the number of months of obligated service not completed; AND
  • Interest on the above amounts at the maximum legal prevailing rate, as determined by the Treasurer of the United States, from the date of breach.

Note: You must pay the above amount(s) within one year from the date of default.

What are the consequences for failing to pay the debt by the due date?

  • We will report the debt as delinquent to credit reporting agencies.
  • We may refer the debt to a debt collection agency and the Department of Justice.
  • Federal or state payments due to you (e.g., an IRS or state income tax refund) may be offset by the Department of Treasury to pay a delinquent debt.
    • Defaulters who are federal employees may have up to 15% of their take-home pay garnished to pay a delinquent debt.
  • In some states, health professions licensing boards may impose sanctions, including suspension or revocation of a defaulter’s professional license.
  • We only discharge a financial obligation in bankruptcy if the discharge is granted more than seven years after the debt becomes due and if a bankruptcy court determines that the non-discharge of the debt would be unconscionable.

How to request a waiver

Under certain circumstances, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) may waive (i.e., excuse) your S2S LRP service or payment obligation.

You must demonstrate that complying with your commitment is permanently impossible or would involve an extreme hardship such that enforcement of the commitment would be unconscionable.

Submit a waiver request by uploading a signed request letter, including the reason(s) you are seeking the waiver, as an inquiry through the BHW Customer Service Portal.

Note: We do not routinely grant waivers. As such, requests require documentation of compelling circumstances.

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