In addition to offering a variety of scholarships, many states offer students the option to forgive loans. Many of these programs are aimed at helping students repay their debt while also providing a much needed service. In general, there is an unequal amount of supply and demand in fields such as medicine and education. Like many states, this occurs in Utah. However, unlike most states, Utah offers fewer options for loan forgiveness at the state level.
What Loan Forgiveness Programs Exist in Utah?
Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program (RPLRP): As you may imagine, many doctors do not want to move to a remote part of the country. However, there is a high need for doctors in remote areas that are usually considered underserved. Utah is no different. There is a vast shortage of rural physicians, which is why the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program was developed.
To apply for this program you are required to complete a RPLRP application, which can be found here. This form requires applicants to complete information about where they obtained their medical degree, demographic information, questions related to their current student loans, where they wish to practice, and some additional information.
Specialists and family practitioners are both eligible to apply. The great news is that providers are not required to relocate to a remote area unless they wish to do so. Rather, they may commute to their place of employment if they are accepted into the program. This program is open year-round, so doctors can apply any time and receive a decision on a rolling basis.
The initial commitment to the state of Utah is for a period of two years. During that time, the doctors admitted to this program must use the money they receive to pay down the cost of their student loans and submit reports to their employer to demonstrate progress. Depending on the amount of remaining loans after the two-year initial period, doctors may re-sign a contract for one year at a time.
Although it may be challenging to work in a county that has a population of under 50,000, the benefits from this loan repayment program are pretty sweet! Doctors can receive up to $30,000 per year to defray the cost of their student loans. Half of this money comes from the hospital where the doctor is employed and the other half comes from the state of Utah. This money is paid in a lump sum, so it is up to the doctor to ensure that the money is actually routed towards paying down his or her loan debt. Additional information about the RPLRP, along with complete eligibility criteria and rules, can be found at this website.
Other Loan Forgiveness Options
Most other states have additional loan forgiveness programs for nurses, social workers, health professionals, teachers, soldiers, and other individuals who work in high need areas. Since Utah has limited the amount of funding for these groups, students with these types of loan debt (or other types) are forced to explore other options. What are these other options? And how can you locate them?
Many students in Utah find it helpful to speak with the company or organization that they work for to inquire about student loan repayment options. Some employers offer some type of loan forgiveness in order to help alleviate the cost of student loan debt.
Aside from this option, students in Utah often turn to the federal government for help with paying back their loans. The federal government offers a number of loan repayment programs, all of which are open to students from Utah who meet all the eligibility criteria. Some of the loan forgiveness programs that are offered by the federal government include:
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: This program provides student loan forgiveness to elementary and secondary school teachers who took out Stafford Loans or Direct Loans to fund the cost of their education degree. In order to be eligible, you must work in a low-income school for a minimum of five years. You must also have a remaining balance on your student loans. Through this program, teachers can receive up to $17,500 in free money to pay down their loans. Teachers can only apply for this scholarship after they have met the full five-year teaching requirement. At that time, they can complete this application form and send it to whoever services their loan.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: In order to qualify for this program, you must work for a qualifying government organization, non-profit organization, or other eligible employer. In addition, you must make the first 120 loan payments on time. All applicants must be employed full-time in order to be considered for this scholarship. Only loans that were dispersed under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are eligible to be forgiven under this funding mechanism. The drawback to this program is that you will not be eligible for loan forgiveness until you have paid your loans for ten years. If you want more information, you can contact your student loan servicer directly to tell them you are interested in obtaining more information or applying for the program.
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program: This program enables eligible health professionals to receive up to $50,000 to put towards their college loans. This program was designed to increase the number of licensed health care providers in underserved areas. All applicants must agree to serve a minimum of two years at a high-need location in order to receive the money.
Additional programs are available for nurses, doctors, teachers, and other groups who are considered in demand. Thus, be sure to explore options in your field.
Image Copyright Michael Janke.