Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Physician Assistant School Scholarships & Loan Repayment

You might be wondering how you will pay off those dreaded loans you’ll have after PA school, whether they be undergraduate or graduate loans. Below are several examples of programs to help with this, including scholarships and loan repayment options. It’s best to choose the right one for you and to know the differences between each and how they align with your career goals. Goodluck! 

  • Physician assistants are eligible.
  • You must make 120 on-time, full, scheduled, monthly payments on your Direct Loans. Only payments made after October 1, 2007 qualify.
  • ONLY direct loans are eligible
  • You must make those payments under a qualifying repayment plan
    • Income-based Repayment (IBR) Plan - must have partial financial hardship (i.e. your monthly payment under a 10-year SRP is greater than your monthly payment under IRB)
      • Payments based on income (15%) and family size
      • Adjusted each year based on changes to annual income and family size
      • Lower payments than other plans
      • Made over 25 years
    • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan - must have a partial financial hardship ((i.e. your monthly payment under a 10-year SRP is greater than your monthly payment under IRB)
      • Payments based on income (10%) and family size
      • Adjusted each year based on changes to annual income and family size
      • Lower payments than other plans
      • Made over 20 years
    • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan - if you need to make lower Direct Loan payments, but do not qualify for IRB or Pay As You earn
      • Payments based on adjusted gross income, family size, and total amount of Direct Loans
        • Lesser of
          • Amount you would pay if you repaid loans in 12 years x income percentage factor that changes with annual income
          • 20% of your monthly income
      • Made for a maximum of 25 years
    • 10-year Standard Repayment Plan - saves you money because of higher monthly payments and you’ll pay off your loan in the shortest time
      • Payments fixed at amounts of $50+ each month for all loan types (excluding Direct Consolidation Loans and FFEL Consolidation Loans)
      • Made over 10 years for all loan types
  • When you make each of those payments, you must be working full-time (30 hrs/week) at a qualifying public service organization.
    • Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a non-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The type or nature of employment with the organization does not matter for PSLF purposes. Additionally, the type of services that these public service organizations provide does not matter for PSLF purposes. A private non-profit employer that is not a tax-exempt organization under Section 501©(3) of the IRC may be a qualifying public service organization if it provides certain specified public services. These services include emergency management, military service, public safety, or law enforcement services; public health services; public education or public library services; school library and other school-based services; public interest law services; early childhood education; public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. The organization must not be a labor union or a partisan political organization.
  • The PSLF Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs. Under this program, borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their Direct Loans after they have made 120 qualifying payments (10 years) on those loans while employed full time by certain public service employers.
  • Recently, the current budget proposal limits the PSLF to $57,500 instead of an unlimited amount. Read about it here
  • Loans you received under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, the Federal Perkins Loan Program, or any other student loan program are ineligible.
    • You may consolidate these loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of PSLF.
    • Payments you make on these loans before you consolidate them do not count as qualifying PSLF payments.
    • FFEL: private lenders provided loans to students guaranteed by the federal government including: Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, FFEL, PLUS loans, and FFEL Consolidation loans.
    • Federal Perkins Loan: federal student loans made by the recipient’s school for undergraduate or graduate students demonstrating financial need
  • If you don’t know what type of loans you have, check the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).
  • You can use the Repayment Estimator to get an early look at which plans you may be eligible for and see estimates for how much you would pay monthly and overall.

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be a physician assistant in postgraduate training (residency) or in the final year of school or have graduated
  • Must have a valid state license to practice as a PA (PA-C). You may apply before obtaining a license, but you are ineligible for the award until you have proof of licensure.
  • Must be committed to practice at an Indian health facility.
  • Must begin service on or before September 30 for 2 consecutive years of full-time clinical practice
  • Must not be receiving funding for service with another federal loan repayment or scholarship program (i.e. NHSC loan repayment or scholarship program, IHS scholarship program, etc.)
  • Eligible loans include: government (federal, state, local)  and commercial loans used to pay for health profession school and related expenses (tuition, fees, books, labs, living).
  • Offers loan repayment to health professionals willing to commit to a 2-year service obligation working in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaskan Native communities
  • IHS using a ranking/scoring system when granting awards. The system gives priority to sites with the greatest staffing needs in specific health profession disciplines. Visit Site Scores to view them by profession, location, or score.
  • Payment is received in addition to your salary.
    • If your total loan amount is greater than $40,000
      • $20,000 per year
    • If your total loan amount is less than $40,000
      • Your amount is divided in half and paid over 2 years

  • Any valid professional license opens the door to work in any one of our Federal facilities
  • As a USPHS physician, you will be on the front lines of public health: developing national health policies, treating patients in underserved communities, and responding to public health emergencies
  • Active duty locations can be found here
    Coast Guard - Health Services in the commissioned corps detailed to the Coast Guard. You will be a medical officer.
    • Competitive pay that increases with promotions and years of service
    • Loan repayment potential
    • Health care and dental care for officers at no cost
    • Healthcare benefits continue during retirement
    • Low-cost health care and dental care for your family
    • 30 days of paid vacation per year
    • Paid sick leave, maternity leave, and Federal holidays

Steps to Apply:
  1. Contact the Commissioned Corps Call Center - 1.800.279.1605
  2. Access the Learning Management System (LMS)
  3. Submit Required Commissioning Materials
  4. Begin the Professional Boarding Process
  5. Complete Remaining Board Reviews
  6. Seek Employment Opportunities with Federal Agencies
    1. Apply for a position through USAjobs
  7. Call to Active Duty

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment:
  • Open to licensed (PA-C) primary care medical, mental, and behavioral health providers employed or who have accepted offers of employment at an NHSC-approved site
  • Must begin work by July 15, 2014
  • Must have unpaid, qualifying educational loans

  • In fiscal year 2013, a total of 4,505 awards were made (2,106 new and 2,399 continuations) totaling $169.7 million. All were given to Tier 1 HPSA
  • The 2014 application opens January (first week) and ends in March (mid)
  • Awards are made by September (end) and money is paid up front
  • There are both full-time and half-time service commitment options
    • Full-time Practice
      • Awardees receive up to $50,000 in exchange for 2-years of service if they practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of 14 and above (Tier I)
      • Awardees can receive up to $30,000 in exchange for 2-years of service if they practice in a HPSA of 13 and below
      • Requires full-time practice at NHSC-approved sites (40 hours/week)
        • 32 of the minimum 40 hours/week must be spent providing direct patient care or teaching in the outpatient ambulatory care setting
        • No more than 12 hours of work in a 24-hour period
      • Requires at least 45 weeks each service year of work
      • Must work at least 4 days/week
      • Up to 7 weeks (35 work days) of leave is allowed away from your site each year
    • Half-time Practice
      • Awardees receive up to $25,000 in exchange for 2-years of service if they practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of 14 and above (Tier I)
      • Awardees can receive up to $15,000 in exchange for 2-years of service if they practice in a HPSA of 13 and below
      • Must complete the entire initial service commitment through half-time service. Once complete, half-time participants can apply for full-time service.
      • Requires half-time practice at NHSC-approved sites (20 hours/week minimum and 39 hours/week maximum)
        • 16 of the minimum 20 hours/week must be spent providing direct patient care or teaching in the outpatient ambulatory care setting
        • No more than 12 hours of work in a 24-hour period
      • Requires at least 45 weeks each service year of work
      • Must work at least 2 days/week
      • Up to 7 weeks (35 work days) of leave is allowed away from your site each year
  • At the end of the two years, Corps members can apply to renew their service and receive additional loan repayment.
  • Dollar amounts of assistance and length of service depend on participation in either the full- or half-time and on the need of the HPSA score of the site
  • For more information, view the Webcast, which reviews eligibility requirements, the online application process, and resources for those considering applying. You can also view an application checklist here.

Steps to Apply:
  1. Find a job at an NHSC-approved site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Verify the HPSA score with the site administrator or search for your site in the NHSC Jobs Center. Verify your work site is an NHSC-approved site. If you work in a HPSA, check to see if your site is eligible to become an NHSC-approved site if it isn’t already. To become an NHSC site, find information here. You may also elect to work in a federal prison because they aren’t always found in rural areas and they often have high HPSA scores. You can find sites here.    
  2. Accept an offer of employment at an NHSC-approved site and begin work by July 15, 2014
  3. Ensure you are eligible.
  4. Apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program
    1. Loan eligibility (federal vs. private)
    2. Required documents
      1. Proof of status as a US citizen
      2. Loan information verification
        1. Account statement
        2. Disbursement report
  5. Work at least 2 years at your site
  6. Pay off your student loans

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarships:
  • Must be committed to primary care
  • Must be accepted or enrolled in a fully accredited physician assistant program
    • **Classes must begin on or before September 30; if not, you must apply next year
  • Must be a US citizen
  • Must be a full-time student
  • Applications are accepted once per year - see application guide for details
  • Application opens mid March and closes in May
  • Awardees are notified at the end of September
  • Pays tuition, fees, other educational costs, and provides a living stipend. Awardees can also receive back pay for semesters they have already completed.
  • Requires a minimum 2-year commitment at an approved outpatient facility in a medically needy community
    • Each year (or partial year) of support beyond the first year = 1 additional year of service, with a maximum of four years
  • Service begins upon graduation (and possible completion of primary care residency)
  • May require job relocation, but assistance is provided for relocation
    • Before you graduate, you will attend a “placement conference” which is essentially a job fair at the conference where you can talk to recruiters from across the U.S. You will also be assigned a consultant that will aid you through the entire process.
  • NHSC helps you find a practice site among all approved sites in underserved urban, rural and frontier communities across the U.S.
  • While in service, you earn a market-rate salary, paid by the employing facility
  • Scholarship payments other than living stipend are federal income tax-free
  • Ineligible if:
    • You attend a PA program specializing in areas other than primary care (i.e. surgical or emergency room)
    • You are still taking prerequisite courses for admission to a PA program.
    • Proof of US citizenship
    • Transcript
    • Resume detailing volunteer and work experience
    • Verification and evaluations from your school
    • Essays
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Other required forms

  • Must have 1 or more qualifying and disbursed Title IV federal loans
    • State and private loans are ineligible for repayment
    • PLUS loans are eligible
    • Loans must be listed on the Department of Education National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) aid summary website
  • Must enlist for a minimum 6 year term of service
  • Must enlist for a critical skills (CS) vacancy in the grade of E-4 or below
  • Must enlist into a qualifying position in an MTOE or Medical TDA unit only
  • Must score a minimum of 50 on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT)
  • Payments will not exceed $50,000 with annual repayments not to exceed the maximum amount established by law

  • Army National Guard officers will serve in the Selected Reserve. For each year of satisfactory service, any DoD-authorized student loans will be considered eligible for repayment.
  • The Medical Professional Offer Special Pay
    • Requires a 3-year service agreement
    • Bonus is renewable with another 3-year service agreement
  • Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP)
    • Must be training in the specialities needed
    • Must be unconditionally accepted into the education program or residency for which you seek funding
    • Must incur a 1-year service obligation for every 6 months you receive the stipend
    • Your obligation will begin following your residency
  • For just about every specialty or field within the Army Medical Department (AMEDD), the Guard offers a bonus and/or student loan repayment program to make your service financially commensurate with your profession.
  • Special Pay is paid out at the beginning of each year. Officers are required to serve for 12 months for each payment.
  • Medical Professional Offer Special Pay (Physician Assistant)
    • $20,000 per year for a 3-year contract
    • $15,000 per year for a 2-year contract
    • $10,000 per year for a 1-year contract
  • Healthcare Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP)
    • Physician assistants may qualify for loan repayments up to $25,000 per year ($75,000 lifetime cap)
  • Specialized Training Assistance Program (STRAP)
    • Monthly stipend of $2,088

Navy Clinical Care Provider (Physician Assistant)
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university
  • Must complete a PA program approved by the CAHEA
  • Must be certified by the NCCPA (PA-C)
  • Must serve a minimum of 3 years Active Duty
  • Must be between the ages of 18-41
  • Must be in good physical condition and pass a full medical examination
  • As an Officer in the Navy Medical Service Corps, you will help care for Sailors, Marines and their families. You may also have the chance to assist in Navy medical relief missions worldwide.
    • Work hand in hand with supervising physicians and surgeons
    • Provide many services that civilian physicians provide
    • Handle primary-care issues or pursue a specific surgical subspecialty
    • Oversee other members of the medical team
    • Train in emerging need areas, such as emergency medicine, rural medicine and family practice
  • Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) – Receive 100% tuition assistance while completing an eligible physician assistant education program, plus a monthly stipend of $2,157 to help cover living expenses for up to 24 months.
  • Navy Health Services Collegiate Program (HSCP) – Receive up to $134,600 while finishing your degree. This amount includes a generous monthly salary and housing allowance ranging from $3,280 to $5,610 for up to 24 months. Navy HSCP housing allowance based on graduate school location. Increased offer amounts available in areas with a higher cost of living.
  • Navy Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP) – Receive up to $80,000 to help repay your graduate school loans by applying to receive $40,000 each year for up to two years. To be eligible, you must serve as an Active Duty Medical Service Corps Officer for each year you receive the loan payment.

  • Requires minimum training of 1 weekend/month and 2 weeks/year
  • Initial training requirements to become an Officer
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be licensed (PA-C)
  • Must be between the ages of 18-40
  • As a Reservist in the Navy Medical Service Corps, you’ll receive a first-rate benefits package – including your choice of any one of these three generous financial offers:
    • Up to $50,000 in graduate school loan repayment assistance
    • Up to $30,000 in specialty pay
    • An immediate one-time sign-on bonus of up to $10,000

  • Must be a U.S. citizen with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited school
  • Must be enrolled in a graduate program
  • Must maintain full-time status during the length of the program
  • Must qualify as a commissioned officer in the US Army Reserve
  • Must commit a minimum of 1 year of service for each year of scholarship
  • Pays 100% of tuition, books, equipment and most academic fees
  • Monthly stipend of $2,000
  • Qualifying students are eligible for a $20,000 sign-on bonus
  • Financial Assistance Program
    • If you are working to complete an accredited residency, you may be eligible to receive an annual grant of more than $45,000 plus a monthly stipend of more than $2,000.
  • Specialized Training Assistance Program
    • This assistance program is designed for providers currently enrolled in accredited residency programs. You'll receive a monthly stipend of more than $2,000. Once you have finished the program, you'll train as part of an Army Reserve unit and serve when needed.
  • Health Professions Special Pay
    • You may be eligible for $75,000 in Special Pay. To receive this bonus, paid in three yearly increments of $25,000, we require completion of a residency in a qualifying specialty. Open to permanent U.S. residents.

Army Healthcare Professionals Loan Repayment Program
  • Receive up to $50,000 to repay your school loans. (The Army does not pay for simply education loans. That could include undergraduate degrees. The Army will only reimburse medical education loans.)
  • The U.S. Army Allied Health Team is the largest and most diverse group of allied health and scientific research professionals in the U.S. Army. You'll find a wide range of benefits that can help you build a successful career, including the privileges and respect afforded to an officer in the world's most advanced Army.

Interservice Physician Assistant Program

  • At least 60 semester hours of prerequisite undergraduate work
  • Active status in a branch of the U.S. military
  • Receive a master's degree in physician assistant studies during this two-year program that combines didactic and clinical training.

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be accepted to an accredited graduate institution
  • Requires 45 days on active duty while on scholarship
  • Pays for tuition, books, and most fees
  • Gives you a monthly stipend for living while you attend school
  • Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and places you on an inactive, obligated Reserve status during the course of your study
  • Offered for 1,2,3, or 4 year terms in exchange for your commitment to serve as an active-duty member with a year-for-year repayment (minimum 3 years)
  • Duty begins after any internship/residency or completion of your program
  • Financial Assistance Program
    • The Air Force Financial Assistance Program for medical residencies can help you complete your residency without having to worry about finances. You will receive more than $45,000 for every year you participate in the program and receive a stipend of over $2000 a month to cover living expenses. Upon completion of your residency, you’ll have a one-year obligation for each year of participation, plus one extra year.

  1. Open to U.S. citizens, nationals, and lawful permanent resident aliens aged 17+
  2. May only serve full or part time up to 12 months.
  3. Can serve in every U.S. state, territory, and on tribal reservations
  4. Full time employees are given a living allowance, health care, and child care.

If none of these programs above appeal to you, you can always check to see if your state offers a State Loan Repayment Plan. By clicking on the states highlighted in blue, you will be redirected to the individual loan repayment websites. Below are a few examples. Unfortunately, not all states offer a loan repayment plan.
Alaska Health Care Professions Loan Repayment & Incentive Program

A Few Tips For Your Loans:

  1. Only take what you absolutely need to pay for tuition and to live on (if you have a working spouse this is easier).
  2. Pay the interest payments during school to avoid compounding interest (if able, spouse works).
  3. If your school goes through the summer, consider taking out the maximum amounts of federal aid (subsidized and unsubsidized) and save for the summer tuition. You can thereby avoid high “grad plus” interest rates. Of course, you’re going to pay on the interest on the unsubsidized federal loans, but it will be cheaper than the grad plus loans.
  4. Don’t buy anything (cars, toys) and get rid of anything you can live without, especially if you are still paying on it.
  5. Most important thing is to sit down, figure out the cost, and come up with a plan. It will be different for everyone based on tuition cost, living expenses, spouses working situation, kids, and prior savings.
  6. Pick the best PA school with the lowest cost of attendance.
  7. Repay as fast as you can or find a repayment program.



  1. Please read my story and be smart and read all military regulations before signing documents. You will show up at the recruiter and they will have a huge contract for you to sign that may reference all different regulations, DO NOT SIGN IT, until you read all those regulations b/c really have no idea what you are agreeing to :( I am in the Army. Commissioned in the Reserve in Jan 2014. I chose only one incentative, the HPLRP. 3 years of loan repayment for 3 years drilling in a TPU. Total statutory obligation of 8 years, so I thought I would be able to go to the IRR in Jan 2017. That is what the recruiter explained to me. I didn't chose the special pay in addition bc I was told that would be another 3 years of drilling for 3 years of special pay. I didn't want to commit 6 years without knowing what I was getting myself into. My husband was infantry, now CA and I have gone through deployments. I thought I was being smart. Now I am being told I have to drill a total of 6 yrs in a TPU (thus will probably be mobilized for a year, yes my MOS mobs (65D/PA) for 12 months, as I have a war time critical shortage MOS). This is not what the recruiter told me and of course I can't find any documentation of what was explained to me. I have been reading AR for 2 nights and I can only find info on Active duty HPLRP service obligation, not Reserve. If anyone knows of any Army regulation that could be useful, PLEASE HELP ME!! I would like to be home long enough to attempt to have a family before I am in my 40s :(

    1. I have not a clue where to start or where to refer you to besides the or AAPA's I would try posting this there and see if you get any leads. I'm so sorry to hear your story and hope you find help!

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