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Clinicians’ Eligibility and Application Requirements for the State Loan Repayment Program

Clinicians who apply for loan repayment from a state/territory State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) non-federal entity (NFE)/grantee must meet certain eligibility and application requirements.

If requirements are met, clinicians will be able to apply to their respective state program. However, NHSC SLRP is competitive. Not every clinician who applies will be accepted.

Clinician Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the NHSC SLRP, clinicians must meet the following criteria:

General

  • Must be United States citizens or nationals (naturalized citizens). 

Debt/Payment

  • Be free of judgments arising from federal debt.
  • May not have defaulted on any federal payment obligations.
  • May not have had any federal or non-federal debt written off as uncollectible or received a waiver of any federal service or payment obligation.

Service Obligations

Must not have breached a prior service obligation to the federal/state/local government or other entity, even if s/he subsequently satisfied the obligation.Cannot have other existing service obligations/commitments (e.g. Primary Care Loans).

EXCEPTION: 

  • Individuals in the Reserve Component of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard are eligible to participate in SLRP. In making awards to reservists, SLRP recipients must inform the potential SLRP participant that:
  • Placement opportunities may be limited by SLRP in order to minimize the impact that a deployment would have on the vulnerable populations served by the reservist.
  • Military training or service performed by reservists will not satisfy the SLRP service commitment.
  • If participant’s military training and/or service, in combination with the participant's other absences from the service site, exceed 35 workdays per service year, the SLRP service obligation must be extended to compensate for the break in service.
  • If the approved SLRP site where the reservist is serving at the time of his/her deployment is unable to reemploy that reservist, SLRP will reassign the participant to another SLRP-approved service site to complete his or her remaining SLRP service commitment. Because it is sometimes difficult to identify short-term assignments, a participant may be asked by the service site to sign an employment contract that extends beyond the completion date of his or her SLRP service commitment.
  • If the participant is a reservist and is called to active duty, the amount of time he/she is on active duty (which does not count as SLRP service) must be added to the length of the original SLRP obligation.

Employment

  • Must be currently employed or have accepted employment at an approved, eligible site in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), while providing direct patient care in an eligible discipline
    • Full-time (at least 40 hours/week)
    • Half-time (at least 20 hours/week)

Use of Funds

  • Must agree to use the NHSC SLRP funds only to repay qualifying educational loans.

Eligible Disciplines

SLRP non-federal entities (grantees) may be flexible in the accepted disciplines of their awarded clinicians. Our primary concern is that the disciplines provide primary health services in HPSAs.

Disciplines vary, but may include:

  • Allopathic Medicine (MD)
  • Osteopathic Medicine (DO)
  • General and Pediatric Dentistry (DDS/DMD)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
  • Health Service Psychologist (HSP) (Clinical and Counseling)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Psychiatric Nurse Specialist (PNS)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Pharmacist (Pharm)
  • Substance Use Disorder Counselors

Note: Preventive medicine is an accepted discipline; emergency medicine is not.

U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps (CC) Officers may qualify if:

  • They are serving at a federal site (e.g. Bureau of Prisons, Indian Health Service, etc.).
  • The site they serve at is in a HPSA.
  • The federal site is willing to pay their salary.

License Requirements

Clinicians must have a current, full, permanent, unrestricted health professional license, certificate or registration (whichever is applicable) in the state or territory of their NHSC SLRP-approved site.

Educational Loan Requirements

Clinicians must:

  • Obtain educational loans prior to the respective state’s application deadline.
  • Provide documentation for qualifying educational loans.
    • The state is responsible for verifying loan documentation.

Eligible Loans

Government (federal, state, or local) or commercial (i.e., private student loans) loans obtained while pursuing a health profession education, qualifies as eligible loans.

Consolidated loans may be eligible within the following guidelines:

  • Consolidated/refinanced loans must be from a government (federal, state, or local) or commercial lender and must include only the clinician’s qualifying educational loans;
    • If an eligible educational loan is consolidated/refinanced with ineligible (non-qualifying) debt, no portion of the consolidated/refinanced loan will be eligible for loan repayment; and
    • If an eligible educational loan is consolidated/refinanced with loans owed by any other person, such as a spouse or child, no portion of the consolidated/refinanced loan will be eligible for loan repayment.

Ineligible Loans

  • Loans for which the applicant incurred a service obligation, which they will not complete before submitting their NHSC SLRP application.
  • Loans for which the associated documentation cannot identify that the loan was solely applicable to the clinician’s undergraduate or graduate education.
  • Loans not obtained from a government entity or private student loan lending institution.
    • Most loans made by private foundations to individuals are not eligible for repayment.
  • Loans already repaid in full
  • Primary Care loans
  • Parent PLUS loans
  • Personal lines of credit
  • Loans subject to cancellation
  • Residency loans
  • Credit card debt

Loans in Forbearance or Default

If a loan is in forbearance, a clinician must fill out any paperwork required by the state to verify the status of the loan at the time of application. They must also include a recent copy of the corresponding lender statements.

Loans that are currently in default are not eligible for the NHSC SLRP.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC)’s State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) non-federal entities (NFEs)/grantees largely determine the requirements for clinicians interested in applying for loan repayment at the state level.

The NHSC SLRP is a competitive program. Not every clinician who applies will be accepted by the respective state program.

Before Clinicians Apply

Before applying to the NHSC SLRP, clinicians must not have an outstanding contractual obligation for health professional service to the federal government, a state or other entity, unless they completely satisfy that service obligation before they sign the state contract.

Note: Certain provisions in employment contracts can create a service obligation.

  • EXAMPLE: An employer offers a physician a recruitment bonus in return for the physician’s agreement to work at that facility for a certain amount of time (or pay back the bonus).

The NHSC SLRP does not consider the Public Loan Forgiveness Program a service obligation. Thus, clinicians participating in it are eligible to apply for the NHSC SLRP.

Application Cycle

Each NHSC SLRP application cycle is unique. The number of awards within a state depends on the number of applications received as well as the availability of funding.

Applicants may contact the NHSC SLRP Administrator within their respective state to determine the current amount of funding available for the upcoming cycle.

When do clinicians apply to the SLRP?

The application period for individual states or territories varies, so we recommend they contact their state’s NHSC SLRP Administrator.

Each state/territory has its own application cycle, and the NHSC SLRP does not require it to coincide with the NHSC LRP competitive or continuation application cycles.

What documents must a clinician submit to complete their application?

Required documents for the NHSC SLRP vary by state/territory.

Typically, clinicians must supply the following documents:

  • Application
    Sign and date the application and enclose all required documentation.
  • Educational Debt Reporting Form
    Refer to lender statements when filling out this form.
  • Lender Statements
    Must be current and dated within 30 days of application submission. Be sure to include the clinician’s name, the name and payment address of the lender, account number, and the current principal balance.
  • Personal Statement Refer to the application for these predetermined questions. Personal statements should be typed in a question and answer format.
  • Letter of Recommendation
    Written by the clinician’s supervisor; it should explain why the applicant is a good candidate for the program. Must be on letterhead and include an original signature.
  • Certification of Practice Site Form
    Verifies the applicant’s employer’s agreement to participate in the program.

Interested applicants should contact the state’s NHSC SLRP Administrator to ensure compliance with all application requirements.