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If you went to medical school, you likely racked up a significant amount of student loan debt. Luckily, there are many medical school loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs available. You may be eligible for federal, state, or local programs that can eliminate some or all of your debt.
In this post:
- Federal loan forgiveness programs
- National loan forgiveness programs
- State-specific loan forgiveness programs
- Military loan repayment programs
Federal loan forgiveness programs
For borrowers with federal student loans, there are two main forgiveness programs.
1. Income-driven repayment plan forgiveness
If you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for an income-driven repayment plan (IDR). Depending on your income, family size, and student loan balance, signing up for an IDR plan can help reduce your monthly payments. Your loan servicer will extend your repayment term to 20 to 25 years and cap your payments at a percentage of your discretionary income.
If you still have a balance after 20 to 25 years of making payments, your loan servicer will forgive the remaining balance. However, the forgiven amount is taxable as income.
You can apply for an IDR plan online.
2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
If you have federal student loans and work for a government agency or nonprofit organization — and many hospitals qualify — you could be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). With this approach, you sign up for an IDR plan and make 10 years of on-time payments.
After 10 years, the government will completely forgive your remaining balance. And, unlike IDR plan forgiveness, the discharged amount isn’t taxable as income.
Use the PSLF Help tool to find out if you’re eligible and to track your progress toward loan forgiveness.
National loan forgiveness programs
If you have federal or private student loans, you may be eligible for one of the following national programs.
1. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment
Primary care medical, dental, and mental and behavioral healthcare providers can get up to $50,000 in student loan repayment assistance in exchange for working a two-year service commitment in an urban, rural, or tribal community with limited access to care. Both federal and private student loans are eligible for the program.
Visit the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) website for more information.
2. National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment
If you are pursuing a degree in allopathic or osteopathic medicine or dentistry, you could be eligible for up to $120,000 in loan repayment assistance, payable in four installments of up to $30,000 per year. In return, you must agree to work for at least three years in full-time clinical practice at a National Health Service Corps approved site.
Visit the HRSA website for more information.
3. National Health Service Corps Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment
To combat the nation’s opioid crisis, the NHSC launched the Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment program. It supports the recruitment and retention of health professionals in underserved areas. If you qualify for the program, you can get up to $75,000 in repayment assistance in return for a three-year service commitment.
To be eligible for the program, you must be working or have accepted an offer of employment at an NHSC-approved service site.
Visit the HRSA website for more information.
4. National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment
Health professionals pursuing careers in biomedical or biobehavioral research may receive up to $50,000 per year in repayment assistance through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment program. In return, you must make a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research.
For more information, visit the NIH website.
5. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment
Health professionals with doctoral degrees who conduct health disparities or clinical research in nonfederal research settings for at least two years could receive up to $50,000 per year in student loan repayment assistance.
For more information, visit the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities website.
6. Indian Health Service Loan Repayment
If you agree to serve at least two years in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, you could receive up to $40,000 in student loan repayment assistance. As a participant in the program, you can extend your contract annually until your student loans are paid off.
For more information, visit the Indian Health Service website.
State-specific loan forgiveness programs
If you’re not eligible for a federal or national program, you may still be able to qualify for a state-specific one.
For example, you could receive up to $70,000 in repayment assistance through California’s State Loan Repayment program in return for a two-year full-time service commitment.
Or, health professionals in Colorado who are willing to work in areas with shortages can receive up to $90,000 in student loan repayment assistance in return for a three-year service commitment.
To find out if your state operates a similar program, visit the Association of American Medical Colleges database.
Military loan repayment programs
If you are a U.S. military service member, you may qualify for loan repayment assistance. For example, healthcare professionals who serve as officers in the Army can receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years in student loan repayment assistance. Contact your military branch administrator for information about relevant loan repayment programs.
See More: Tips for Paying Off Medical School Loans
Managing your medical school loans
While there are medical school loan forgiveness and repayment assistance programs available, not everyone will qualify for one. If you don’t, another way to manage your debt is student loan refinancing. With this approach, you could reduce your interest rate, save money, and even pay off your medical debt ahead of schedule.
If you decide that student loan refinancing is right for you, you can compare offers from some of the best refinancing lenders.