How to Get the Fed to Pay Your Nursing School Loans
For several years, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services, specifically, the Health Services and Resource Administration (HRSA) has granted repayment of loans to people who have completed nursing school and will work for two or more years in a qualified facility.The program is called the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP) and this year, President Obama increased the money available for the program.
In 2009, applications for receipt of these grants were due in March. For 2010, the date of application deadline will be sent out by notification in January. If you want to know about the application process and when applications are due, go to http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/loanrepay.htm.Those people whose application is accepted for receipt of the grants are notified in September, and those who are denied the funds will be notified in October. The grants repay 60% of your loans if you work in a critical shortage facility for two years. There has been a three year option. It is not certain this will be a part of the 2010 program but it entails working in a CSF (critical shortage facility) for three years and the grant will repay another 25% of your loan.
Now, what makes you eligible?
1. You need to have a BA, AA, diploma or graduate degree in nursing from an accredited educational program.
2. You need to have outstanding loans related to getting that degree.
3. You must be working 32 hrs or more in a CSF and continue there for 2-3 years depending on your application and acceptance requirements.
4. You must have a current, permanent, unrestricted license as an RN in the State where you intent to practice.
5. You must be a U.S. citizen, National or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
6. You must complete the needed application and be accepted for the grant by the funding agency.
President Obama signed into law $8.1 million for this program in 2010, and although there really is not enough money to go around, it is a start, and probably worth a try if you qualify for the program.
Where do you need to work?
The definition of a Critical Shortage Facility includes many health care organizations. They are all non-profit, so, you are not eligible for this loan repayment program if you work in a private doctor’s office or another for-profit health care organization. Organizations where you can work and be eligible include:
1. Non-profit hospitals and Federal hospitals (check the website for exact descriptions)
2. Federally funded or qualified health centers (FQHC’s)
3. Ambulatory Surgical Centers
4. Home Health Agencies
5. Rural Health Centers
6. Indian Health Centers
7. Skilled Nursing Facilities
8. Nursing Homes
9. Native Hawaiian Health Centers
Remember, there is an application process, due in early 2010, and there are many other details about the program that include, where you need to do your service, how long, and all the other bureaucratic questions that will accompany a Federal loan repayment program (ie- you can’t have any outstanding debts to the Federal government or have had any government debts written off for non-payment). But the government is working to make money available to those of you who have completed school, are practicing in a health facility that serves the under-served, and have loans you are paying back that are related to your education and are yet unpaid.
You should be rewarded for your dedication — look into this opportunity!