Indian Health Service (IHS) - Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs

December 26, 2023

New section

Federal loan repayment programs exist to help students offset the costs of medical school in return for a service commitment. The Indian Health Service’s Loan Repayment Program provides repayment assistance for a two-year commitment to practice in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

New section

New section

About IHS

The Indian Health Service is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, serving as a rural-based, primary care federal health system that focuses on care for the nation’s American Indians and Alaska Natives.    

LRP Overview

The Loan Repayment Program (LRP) provides student loan repayment assistance (up to $40,000) for qualified health profession education loans. The program may be a good option to consider for those interested in practicing in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Qualifying Debt

Qualifying debt for the LRP includes all unpaid government or private loans for graduate school tuition, as well as reasonable educational and living expenses.

For consolidated loans, only the health profession portion is approved by the LRP. Once an LRP payment is received, participants cannot receive additional assistance from a government funded entity; however, LRP loans are eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. 

Service Commitment

In return for repayment assistance, the program requires a minimum commitment of two years of full-time service. Annual renewal is available until all qualifying loans are paid. Opportunities are available at LRP-approved Indian health program facilities with the greatest staffing needs in specific health profession disciplines.

If the requirements of the programs are not met, then recipients may be required to repay monies received as well as other penalties. Participants should make sure they understand all requirements of the program. Review the LRP Participant Guide for more information.

Eligibility & Application Information

The program is open to all physicians who are currently licensed, those who are applying for a license, and those who have completed a medical residency or fellowship training program that makes them eligible for board certification. The LRP does give priority consideration to American Indian and Alaska Native applicants. Physicians can apply as early as their final year of residency training. Additional application information is available online.

Eligible Health Professions: 
  • Medicine: allopathic and osteopathic.
  • Behavioral Health.
  • Optometry.
  • Dentistry.
  • Nursing.
  • Pharmacy.
  • Other Health Professions.
IHS Health Professions Scholarship Program

An IHS Scholarship Program is also available to provide qualified American Indian and Alaska Native students with funding to pursue health professions careers. The scholarship program limits participants to U.S. citizen American Indians and Alaska Natives (members of federally recognized Tribes only). Up to four years of funding are provided with this scholarship. All recipients are required to fulfill a minimum two-year service commitment at an Indian health facility following residency in a qualified program.

Helpful Resources

New section

Sign up to Receive the FIRST Newsletter

Provide your name and email address, scroll down to Student Resources, and select FIRST Newsletter.

Contact FIRST
A medical student working on a computer
AAMC Financial Wellness

Access free financial calculators, articles, and videos to help you create a budget, track your spending, create financial goals, and enhance your financial knowledge about credit, financial planning, money management, and more!

Visit AAMC Financial Wellness