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.
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 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; however, LRP loans are eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
In return for repayment assistance, the program requires a minimum commitment of two years of fulltime 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.
If requirements of the programs are not met, then recipients may be required to repay monies received and 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 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
- 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.
- An LRP Participant Guide that lists policies, procedures, practices and other useful information for aspiring applicants.
- Frequently Asked Questions for applicants.
- Additional information about Repayment Assistance Through Forgiveness, Scholarships, or Service is available through the AAMC's FIRST program.