With Americans now owing over $1.4 billion in student loans, some states have stepped up to help their residents pay back those loans a bit more quickly — especially if they can do so while providing much-needed skills to other state residents.
To incentivize health professionals to work in areas of high need, Massachusetts offers loan repayment assistance to borrowers in the medical field.
Repayment assistance for healthcare professionals
The Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program is administered by The Massachusetts Health Care Workforce Center. Through the program, eligible health care professionals in a variety of disciplines can receive up to $50,000 toward their student loans.
How the program works
The purpose of the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program is to encourage health care professionals — working in dental, medical, and mental health — to practice in areas that have been identified as having a shortage of health care providers and barriers to access.
To qualify for the loan repayment program, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Perform the service obligation at an eligible site (public or non-profit healthcare organization in a designated health professional shortage area)
- Hold a current, non-restricted license to practice in Massachusetts
- Not have a judgment lien against your property for a debt to the U.S.
- Not have an outstanding contractual obligation to provide health professional services on behalf of the Federal Government
- Acknowledge that certain bonus clauses in employment contracts may impose a service obligation.
Participants may earn up to $25,000 in their first year of service and an additional $25,000 in their second year of service, for a total of $50,000. The exact amount of the assistance depends on your profession.
Both private student loans and the following federal student loans are eligible for the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program:
- Stafford loans
- Grad PLUS loans
- Consolidation loans
- Perkins loans
How to apply
To apply, you'll need to gather information about your current loans and then visit the website for the Massachusetts Health Care Workforce Center to learn more and fill out an online application. The State removes detailed information about the program when the application period is closed, so you may need to check back frequently to find out when you can apply.
What to do if you don’t qualify for loan forgiveness
While borrowers in the medical field have some of the highest student debt loads, plenty of borrowers in other careers are struggling to manage their student loans. If you don't qualify for the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program, you're not alone.
And, more importantly, there are other ways to get some debt relief.
1. Apply for federal grants or forgiveness programs
States aren't the only ones taking notice of the student debt crisis. The Federal Government provides a variety of programs and grants available that could discharge some or all of your current student loans. One of the most well-known federal programs is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which discharges student loans after 10 years for borrowers working for eligible non-profit organizations or government agencies.
There are also many grant programs that cater to particular careers. Check out our ultimate list of grants to pay off your student loans to find a program that could benefit you.
2. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
If you have federal loans, you are eligible for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, your payments are capped at a percentage — between 10% and 20% — of your discretionary income. You also have the option to extend your repayment term. Some borrowers in an IDR plan pay $0 a month, but signing up for an IDR plan doesn't automatically mean your payments will be lower.
Depending on your discretionary income and repayment terms, they could actually be higher. So make sure you research IDR plans fully and use a calculator to determine what your payments will be.
3. Refinance your loans
If you want to have lower monthly payments and pay less over the life of your loans, consider refinancing your student loans with a private lender. When you refinance, you choose a new lender, along with new repayment terms and — this is the really good part — a new, lower interest rate.
That new interest rate can save you thousands of dollars. In fact, the average borrower who refinances saves more than $16,000 over the life of their loan.
Find out how much you could save by refinancing your student loans.