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

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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.

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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. Of note, once an LRP payment is received, one cannot receive additional assistance from a government funded entity (LRP loans are eligible for PSLF). 

Service Commitment

In return for repayment assistance, the program requires a minimum commitment of two years of full-time service with annual renewal 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.

Eligibility & Application Information

The program is open to all physicians who are currently licensed or are applying for a license, and 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.

Health Professions Eligibility

  • 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 under 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.

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