NHSC: Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs

November 28, 2022

New section

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) offers a scholarship program for medical students, the Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program for students in their last year of medical school, federal and state Loan Repayment Programs (LRP), and a Substance Use Disorder Workforce LRP. All programs are intended to help physicians or soon-to-be physicians with the cost and debt they incur from pursuing a medical career.

New section

New section

General Information

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and administers the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) programs. 

Recipients of loan repayment or scholarships are required to perform a specific number of service hours in a health professional shortage area (HPSA) in return for loan repayment or scholarship assistance. 

Work is performed at facilities that are generally not-for-profit or operated by the government. Many times, these sites have a difficult time finding and/or keeping health care providers. 

Ideal Candidates
  • Dedicated to primary care.
  • Desire to work in an underserved area.
  • Interested in loan repayment or scholarship assistance.
General Requirements

The loan repayment and scholarship programs have several requirements that are shared across the programs. For example, both require participants to serve a minimum of two years at a HPSA site. They also require that qualified applicants be U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and all awards are exempt from employment and federal income taxes. If requirements of the programs are not met, then recipients may be required to repay monies received and other penalties. Participants of LRPs or scholarship programs should make sure they understand all requirements of the program. 

Federal Scholarship Program for Medical Students

Recipients of the scholarship program will receive funding for tuition, education expenses (determined by the program) and a living stipend for each month in which the student is enrolled in a full-time program at an accredited U.S. medical school. 

To be eligible for this scholarship, residency must be completed in a primary care setting. The scholarship is offered for each year of schooling, and then the recipient provides a year of service for each year the scholarship was awarded. Recipients of the scholarship must work for an approved HPSA after residency training and will receive a competitive salary from their HPSA worksite. Four years is the maximum award for scholarship years and service commitment. 

The NHSC scholar must start their service commitment after completing their residency training, must work on a full-time basis, and must work in a HPSA of “greatest need”, as determined by HRSA. The NHSC helps scholars find employment after residency.

At the end of their service commitment, scholarship recipients can apply to continue to receive further funding through the NHSC loan repayment program, if they have any outstanding school loan debt, and if they agree to continue their service at one of the NHSC facilities. More information is available on the Scholarship Program webpage.

Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program

Current medical students can apply to participate in this program during their last year of medical school. Students who are selected to receive funding will then complete a primary care residency program and then fulfill their service commitment following completion of their residency program.

Recipients of this program will be working at an NHSC site for at least three years (full time) or six years (half-time) and can receive up to $120,000 for loan repayment. 

For more information visit the Students to Service (S2S) LRP webpage and fact sheet.

Federal Loan Repayment Program

Recipients must complete residency and have the appropriate credentials to work for an NHSC facility. Physicians will find a position at a NHSC-approved work site and then apply for Loan Repayment Program (LRP) assistance. Physicians receive a competitive salary in addition to loan repayment assistance. Loan repayment funds can be applied to “qualifying educational debt”; which includes federal and private student loan debt that the recipient borrowed for undergraduate education as well as medical school.

The service commitment for the LRP is two years (full-time) and the amount that the recipient receives is based on the HPSA score of the NHSC-site. The maximum repayment award is $50,000 for sites with HPSA scores of 14 or above. If the LRP recipient is working at a site that has a HPSA score of 13 or lower, then the maximum award is $30,000. Half-time LRP may also be available. Additional awards are available if outstanding student loan debt remains, and each new award is based on an additional one-year service commitment.

Interested physicians can use the Health Workforce Connector website to locate NHSC-approved sites and available positions. More information about the Federal Loan Repayment Program can be found on the LRP webpage.

State Loan Repayment Program

Some states receive grant money from NHSC to employ health professionals who are willing to work for a site within their state in return for loan repayment assistance. The state awarding the loan repayment assistance may require a service commitment greater than two years, and work can be completed on a full time or half time basis. 

States receiving funds can determine which sites are approved for the loan repayment program funds and the amount of loan repayment assistance available to recipients working at those sites. 

Loan repayment assistance awards vary by state. This interactive map shows the states that receive funding and where physicians may be able to obtain employment in return for loan repayment assistance.

Substance Use Disorder Workforce LRP (SUD Workforce LRP)

This LRP was designed to provide loan repayment assistance to medical professionals with specialized training and credentials in the treatment of opioid and substance use disorder treatment. Loan repayment assistance is provided to recipients, and in return recipients provide evidence-based Substance Use Disorder treatment and counseling in eligible communities of need that are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Because this is a specialized program, additional qualifications are needed to qualify for the program.    

Awards up to $75,000 are available for those who make a three-year (full time) service commitment and up to $37,500 for those who make a six-year (part time) commitment. 

More information about the SUD Workforce LRP can be found on the NHSC website.

Helpful Links
HRSA School-Based Programs
(only available if school participates)
HRSA Additional Programs

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
Young male presenting doctor wearing scrubs looking at 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