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  1. Federal
  2. State-Based

There are many options for pharmacists to reduce their student debt through student loan forgiveness programs available on a state and federal level. Many of these public service programs require employment within Health Profession Shortage Areas (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area or Population defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For medical pharmacists (PharmD), this usually requires practice in an outpatient or ambulatory setting and providing direct patient care.

Some common responsibilities may include providing pharmacological advice, administering immunizations, and providing consultation, training, and education to patients about drug therapy, disease management, and disease prevention.

The student loan forgiveness programs below have been broken down by state and provide a brief description of the state or federal program. For more information, please click on the program title to learn more and how to apply to these student loan forgiveness programs.

– As featured in the Pharmacy Times

Updated: 4/7/2015

Student loan forgiveness options for pharmacists

State Program Description
Federal

Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

 

Eligible candidates must be employed by a public service organization defined by the PSLF conditions and be a full-time employee (30+ hours per week). Loans under the Direct Loan Candidates are eligible for forgiveness under the PSLF program after 10 years of repayment. The repayment timeline began in 2007 so only payments made after this date will contribute towards the 120 payments needed to ensure student loan forgiveness.

Federal

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC)

 

Program provides full-time and part-time commitment options for primary care providers to serve within a Health Profession Shortage Area (HPSA) at a NHSC approved site. Depending upon the HPSA score, recipients can receive up to $50,000 in loan repayment in exchange for at least a two-year service commitment. Additional repayment can be extended for a third year and the program usually requires a minimum 32-hour weeks commitment. Part time workers can receive up to $25,000 depending on the service site.

Federal

NIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program

 

The NIH offers three internal loan repayment programs to scientist holding medical degrees. General research requires three years of service. There are also five external repayment programs funded by the NIH distributed across a variety of research topics. An NIH grant is not required to participate and recipients will receive $35,000 per year in repayment benefits. This payment is in addition to the participant’s basic pay and benefits as employees of NIH. Applicants must have qualifying educational debt equal to or in excess of 20% of their annual NIH salary on the expected date of program eligibility.

Federal

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

 

Program offers health professionals the opportunity to pay off qualified student loans while assisting in meeting the staffing needs of Indian health programs. The repayment is awarded to health professionals practicing in specific health profession disciplines in exchange for an initial two-year service commitment working in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Recipients will be awarded up to $20,000 per year, plus 20% in federal tax support, in exchange for two-year service commitment. A one-year extension request is available.

Federal

U.S. Army Pharmacists Loan Repayment Program

 

The program provides a comprehensive benefits package that includes a competitive salary, 30 days paid vacation, full insurance coverage, housing allowance and generous retirement. Qualified pharmacists are eligible to receive a sign-on bonus of $30,000, paid in a lump sum at the first duty station. The loan repayment option can repay up to $120,000 in student loans.

Alaska

Supporting Healthcare Access through Loan Repayment

 

Offers loan repayment assistance in exchange for a minimum of two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area in Alaska to pharmacists. Up to $47,000 per year is awarded and the recipient can be licensed in any state. New guidelines require a 25% employer match to participate.

Arizona

Arizona Loan Repayment Program

 

The program is designed to promote healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, to work in underserved areas. The program requires service at a private practice service site located in a rural area as defined within an Arizona Medically Underserved Area (AzMUA). Depending on the sites priority rank, different loan amounts will be awarded (up to $65,000) for the initial two-year award.

California

California State Loan Repayment Program

 

To be eligible for SLRP, licensed Pharmacists must work in an outpatient, ambulatory setting, within an approved site, and provide direct patient care. Retail settings are not eligible for this program. The maximum award is $50,000, which involves a 50% match ($25,000) from the eligible service site chosen.

Colorado

Colorado Health Service Corps

 

Clinical pharmacists may be eligible to receive repayment of qualified student loans if practicing in a Health Professional Shortage Area or delivering primary health cares services in a public or nonprofit clinic. The program awards student loan forgiveness up to $50,000 ($25,00 part-time) for a 3-year term at an approved site.

Idaho

Idaho State Loan Repayment Program

 

The state-based program provides practitioners working in federally designated HPSAs that are part of a non-profit or government entity repayment assistance. Repayment is provided in a 1:1 matching with the practitioner’s employer with awards between $20,000 and $30,000 per year for a two-year commitment. Funds will depend on practice discipline and employer match. Program allows recipient to renew service commitment for another two-year term.

Kentucky

Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program

 

Federally backed program that provides 1:1 matching (federal and state) for qualified pharmacists. As repayment service, recipient must agree to a two-year commitment to practice full-time at an eligible sponsoring organization in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Repayment maximum can be up to $35,000 a year for two years for a total of $70,000 (this includes the federal and health organization’s matching amounts).

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program

 

Repayment program provides educational loan repayment as an incentive for health professionals to practice in communities where significant shortages of health care providers and barriers to access have been identified. Applicants must be licensed to practice in Massachusetts and commit to practice two years full-time or the equivalent extended commitment part time (e.g. a 20-hour practice per week will mean a 4-year contract) providing services in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Pharmacists are eligible for a total student loan forgiveness award of $50,000 over the 2 years.

Minnesota

Minnesota Rural Pharmacist Loan Forgiveness Program

 

The program is designed to recruit pharmacists to areas of need within Minnesota. Pharmacists must commit to practice at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of three years. Annual payment to the participant is up to $16,000 with a maximum four-year payment of $64,000.

Nebraska

The Nebraska Loan Repayment Program

 

Program is a local-state matching fund program to assist local entities serving shortage areas to recruit and retain health professionals. Requires a 3-year service agreement including service to Medicaid patients for a maximum benefit of $20,000 per year of loan repayment. Pharmacists agree to practice one year in a state-designated shortage area for each year a loan is received.

New Mexico

New Mexico Loan Repayment Assistance Program

 

The program requires the recipient to make a two-year service commitment to practice full-time in a designated medical shortage area in New Mexico. The maximum allowable award is $25,000 per year or up to $35,000 per year for an HPSA area. Award amounts are determined by outstanding student loan debt on an individual basis. Applicant must be licensed within the state and be employed full-time to receive student loan forgiveness.

North Dakota

North Dakota State Loan Repayment

 

Registered pharmacists are eligible for up to $50,000 a year, for two years of service at sites experiencing the greatest need within the state. The program requires a 1:1 match from the sponsoring organization or community. Must have graduates from an accredited training program and have completed all necessary licensing.

Oregon

Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment

 

Program requires a two-year service obligation in a HPSA designated service site. Sites decide how much they’ll contribute, from $5,000 up to $35,000, and then program funds match the service site’s funds.

Rhode Island

Health Professional Loan Repayment Program

 

Program was designed to improve access to care, retain providers who provide healthcare services in underserved communities, and to address health professional shortages that cause disparities in health. Two-year commitment to practice in medically underserved communities as identified as Health Professional Shortage Areas is required. Funds have been allocated to the State of Rhode Island for 8 – 10 awards across several health professions including pharmacists.

Washington

Health Professional Loan Repayment Program

 

Program encourages licensed primary care health professionals to serve in critical shortage areas within the state. Applicants agree to provide primary care health coverage in rural or underserved urban areas with designated shortages. Awards provide up to $35,000 per year in repayment for a minimum two-year ($70,000), full-time service obligation. Each additional one-year extension request amount is based on funds available.

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