If you're a Georgia resident, then you probably know that Georgia has put a lot of money toward higher education by funding tuition programs like the HOPE Scholarship and the Zell Miller Scholarship for college students.
The good news for those who have already graduated is that the State also funds a number of loan repayment programs.
Repayment assistance for healthcare professionals
The Georgia Board for Physician Workforce administers five loan repayment programs that are geared toward incentivizing those in the medical profession to work in rural or underserved areas of the state that have limited access to health care providers.
How the programs work
The State of Georgia administers five separate loan repayment programs, each aimed at a particular profession in the health care field.
|Loan Program||Max annual award||Max number of years|
|Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Program||$25,000||4|
|Dentists for Rural Areas Assistance Program||$25,000||4|
|Physician Assistant Loan Repayment Program||$10,000||4|
|Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Loan Repayment Program||$10,000||4|
|Georgia Physician Loan Repayment Program||$25,000||4|
The first four programs are all funded entirely by the State of Georgia and have similar guidelines.
- Participants must work full time in a Georgia county with a population of less than 50,000
- Contracts are awarded for one year and can be renewed for up to three years
- Participants must provide direct patient care
The Georgia Physician Loan Repayment Program (GPLRP) provides a similar award to the Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Program but has slightly different guidelines. It is funded by the state of Georgia along with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The GPLRP is aimed specifically at those physicians practicing in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, geriatrics or psychiatry. As opposed to the rural work requirement of the other Georgia loan repayment programs, physicians participating in GPLRP must practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area, as determined by the HRSA.
Contracts are awarded on a 2-year basis and are able to renewed for one additional 2-year term.
What loans are eligible
All loans taken in association with completing the relevant degree (i.e., medical, dental, etc) are eligible. Loans taken out to complete other degrees are not eligible.
How to apply
To apply to any of the Georgia loan repayment programs, you will need to have information about your current loans as well as a signed employment contract (or client contracts, if you own your own practice). Find additional information and all the contracts on the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce website.
What to do if you don’t qualify for loan forgiveness
If you're a Georgia resident but not in the medical field or not able to work in one of the designated areas, don't lose heart. There are several other options to reduce your monthly payments and make your debt load more manageable — no matter where you live or what your career is.
1. Apply for federal grants or forgiveness programs
If Georgia doesn't provide a forgiveness program that meets your needs, the Federal Government might. Several industries benefit from career-specific programs. Check out our ultimate list of grants to pay off your student loans to find a program that could benefit you.
There are also programs that borrowers in any field can use. For instance, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program discharges student loans after 10 years for borrowers working for eligible non-profit organizations or government agencies — in careers ranging from elementary school teacher to civil rights attorney.
2. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
Anyone with federal loans is eligible to apply for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. IDR plans are exactly what they sound like — repayment plans that are governed by your income rather than your loan balance. Under an IDR plan, your payments are capped at an amount between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income.
For some borrowers, an IDR creates a drastic reduction in their monthly payments, but depending on your discretionary income and repayment terms, you could end up paying more than you are right now. Before you apply, research the available plans and use a calculator to determine what your payments would be.
3. Refinance your loans
Refinancing your student loans with a private lender is one of the only ways to reduce your monthly payment while simultaneously decreasing the amount you'll pay over the life of the loan. That's because when you refinance, you don't just change your repayment term or reallocate your payments — you lower your interest rate.
Even a reduction of a point could save you thousands of dollars. In fact, the average borrower who refinances saves an average of $258 per month and more than $16,000 over the life of their loan.
Find out how much you could save by refinancing your student loans.