Student Loan Forgiveness for DoctorsApril 1, 2021
Everyone knows that medical professionals make some of the highest salaries in any profession. What they may not realize is that the average cost of medical school is more expensive than almost any other type of education.
That’s why there are a number of student loan forgiveness and assistance programs for doctors working in the public sector or in underserved communities. If you’re wondering how to pay off medical school debt without sacrificing your other financial goals, take a look at some of the options below.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Doctors
- State Loan Repayment Programs
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
- NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
- NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program
- National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs
- Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
- National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
- Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Doctors
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) for Doctors
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) requires 10 years’ worth of payments before the remaining balance is forgiven, tax-free.
Doctors who work for a non-profit hospital, community health center, teaching hospital, university or another qualifying employer can apply for PSLF. Payments do not have to be made consecutively. Doctors can switch employers and take sabbaticals without rendering previous payments ineligible.
To verify that your employer qualifies, submit an Employment Certification Form annually or every time you switch jobs. The Department of Education will verify your payments. Once you’ve made 120 eligible payments, you can apply to have the leftover balance forgiven.
While working toward PSLF, borrowers will use an income-driven repayment plan which may decrease their monthly payments.
State Loan Repayment Programs
Each state has its own State Loan Repayment Program that provides student loan relief after two years of service. The amount forgiven depends on the particular state but is capped at $50,000 for a two-year commitment.
Some states have more than one type of SLRP, and you can find a complete list through the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC)
The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC) provides up to $50,000 in loan forgiveness for full-time employees and $25,000 for part-time employees in exchange for two years’ worth of service.
MDs, DOs and dentists are eligible. Physicians must have the following specialties to qualify:
- Family Medicine
- General Internal Medicine
- General Pediatrics
NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
Medical, dental and nursing school students may be able to enroll in the NHSC Student to Service Loan Repayment Program, which forgives up to $120,000 in student loans after four years of service in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
Those accepted in the program are required to work in a qualifying field for three years, after which time they may sign up for an additional year. Both MDs and DOs are eligible. Interested students can go here to apply.
NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program
Doctors who work in a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) facility may be eligible for the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program, which forgives up to $75,000 in total for full-time employees and $37,500 for part-time employees. Doctors must work for three years to qualify and can apply here.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Programs
Doctors interested in research can apply to work at the National Institutes of Health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Programs cover up to $50,000 in loan forgiveness per year of service. To qualify, your total loan balance must be 20% or more of the NIH base salary.
Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
The Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program will repay up to $40,000 worth of student loans in exchange for two years of service. Doctors must work in American Indian and Alaska Native areas to qualify for this program.
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities offers two repayment programs that support doctors from low-income backgrounds or who are part of a health disparity population.
Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Doctors
Doctors who serve in the military may qualify for military student loan forgiveness and repayment assistance. Each branch of service has its own minimum requirements and loan forgiveness amounts.
Army Doctor Student Loan Assistance
Student loan repayment assistance for Army physicians includes the following options:
- Health Professions Scholarship Program: Medical students receive free tuition and a living stipend.
- Financial Assistance Program: Doctors in a residency program can get an annual $45,000 grant and a $2,000 living stipend.
- Active-Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program: Doctors can receive up to $120,000 in loan forgiveness in exchange for three years of service.
- Reserve Medical Corps Benefits: Doctors in the Army Reserve may be eligible for certain financial benefits.
- Health Professions Special Pay: Army officers who are also physicians may qualify for $75,000 in loan forgiveness for three years of service.
- Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program: Physicians who serve in an Army Reserve Troop Program Unit, AMEDD Professional Management Command or the Individual Mobilization Program may have up to $250,000 of loans forgiven.
Navy Doctor Student Loan Assistance
Student loan repayment assistance for Navy physicians includes the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program, which will repay up to $40,000 in student loans for qualifying students who enroll in the Navy during their final year of medical school.
Air Force Doctor Student Loan Assistance
The Health Professions Scholarship Program provides qualifying medical students who promise to join the U.S. Air Force with funds for tuition, textbooks, supplies and a stipend for living expenses.
Medical students have to serve 45 days on active duty in the Air Force and serve at least three years after graduation.
Other Ways to Manage Medical School Student Loan Debt
If you don’t qualify for a loan repayment program or want more freedom in choosing your employer, there are other ways you could reduce your medical school debt:
- Use your signing bonus toward your student loans
- Stick to a budget and funnel extra cash toward your loans
- Apply any pay increases toward your student loans
Understanding how to refinance student loans can be one of the biggest cost savers for doctors, especially since interest rates have dropped to near-historic lows.
How Much Can Refinancing Medical School Loans Save You?
Refinancing medical school loans is one of the easiest ways to reduce your loan burden without having to cut back on spending. Medical professionals like nurses, psychiatrists, ophthalmologists and more can save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in total interest by refinancing.
Refinance Your Medical School Student Loans With ELFI
The benefits of student loan refinancing with ELFI include:*
- Interest rate provided within minutes of submitting your application
- ELFI has a 4.9 out of 5 rating from Trustpilot1
- There are no application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties.
Unlike other private student loan companies, ELFI provides a Personal Loan Advisor who can assist you throughout the refinancing process.
1As of 04/07/21, Education Loan Finance has the best TrustPilot TrustScore® (4.9 out of 5) among major student loan refinancing lenders.