The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federally funded program that is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is housed in the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Health Professions. The NHSC is composed of a unique group of clinicians providing primary health care to adults and children in the communities of greatest need across the Nation, bringing quality primary health care professionals to communities in need, as well as supporting their efforts to build a better system of care.
NHSC clinicians practice in a broad range of community-based systems of care operating in rural and urban federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSA). NHSC clinicians serve in communities in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Pacific Basin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program (LRP) is one way the NHSC works with communities to recruit health care professionals committed to serving the needs of underserved populations. This competitive program makes contract awards to clinicians that agree to serve full time at approved sites in designated health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) of greatest need. In return for this service, NHSC LRP participants receive money to repay qualifying educational loans that are still owed, plus a 39% tax assistance payment. For the first 2 years of service in a federally designated health professional shortage area, the NHSC LRP will pay up to $25,000 for each year of service, based on the participant's outstanding balance of qualifying educational loans. If the total amount of the participant's qualifying educational loans is less than $50,000, the NHSC LRP will pay one-half of the total qualifying educational loans annually. Opportunities to participate in the program beyond 2 years may be available. All loan repayments paid to the participant must be used by the participant to repay the approved qualifying educational loans.
Loans qualifying for repayment include government (federal, state or local) and commercial loans obtained by the participant to pay for school tuition, required fees, and other reasonable educational and living expenses incurred by the participant for undergraduate or graduate education leading to a health professional degree.
Consolidated loans are eligible as long as the consolidation is with a commercial lender and includes only the applicant’s student loans. For more information, call the NHSC at 1-800-221-9393.
The deadline varies annually for these applications. To find the current year's deadline, visit the NHSC website at http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/applications . To apply, clinicians must submit their NHSC Loan Repayment Program application postmarked by the listed deadline. NOTE: The clinician's site of practice must be an eligible NHSC site.
An eligible application must be complete, postmarked by the current deadline, and from a clinician who meets all eligibility criteria outlined in the NHSC LRP Application Bulletin. An applicant must have accepted employment or be in the final stages of negotiating an employment contract with an eligible NHSC LRP community site to be eligible for funding.
NHSC LRP awards will be made on an ongoing basis for eligible applicants whose applications are complete and who are working at an approved NHSC LRP site with a qualifying HPSA score. Complete applications from applicants working at a site with a HPSA score below the qualifying score will be awarded after the deadline, if funding is still available. The qualifying HPSA score is set annually with the intention of reaching as many underserved sites as possible in the first round of placements. The following criteria will be used to determine which clinicians receive an NSHC LRP contract award:
The scoring guidelines for HPSAs are included in 42 CFR, Chapter 1, Part 5. HRSA’s Shortage Designation Branch assigns this score when the HPSA designation is approved. See the Health Professional Shortage Area’s section for other HPSA questions.
No. NHSC Scholars must follow the same application procedures and are subject to the same funding priorities as any other NHSC LRP applicant.
All obligations for service must be completed on or before the annual deadline for an applicant to be considered eligible for the NHSC LRP for that fiscal year.
Applicants who have defaulted on any federal payment obligation will not be selected to participate in the NHSC LRP, even if they are considered to be in good standing by that creditor.
No. The NHSC LRP is a competitive program. However, due to a proposed increase in funding, the NHSC LRP hopes to fund more awards in the future.
n eligible NHSC LRP community site is a public, nonprofit or private health facility that provides a continuum of services, including comprehensive primary health care and appropriate referrals or arrangements for specialty and inpatient care to individuals in a health professional shortage area (HPSA) regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for the services. To be considered, the site must submit an NHSC Recruitment and Retention Assistance Application to the LA Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health who will in turn submit the application to the NHSC for approval.
The NSHC Opportunities List posts information on sites and their recruitment needs. The NHSC Opportunities List can be found on the NHSC web site at http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov. A posting on the NHSC Opportunities List does not guarantee a NHSC LRP contract award.
A clinician who fails to provide service as agreed in his or her NHSC LRP contract will be placed in default and will be subject to the default penalties. Information on the default penalties can be found at http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/applications. The penalties for breeching an employment contract while participating in the NHSC LRP can be found at letter J in the application outline. Waivers, suspensions, cancellation, and termination options are discussed at letter K.
Specific information on all NHSC programs/services can be found at http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov or by calling the NHSC's Helpline at 1-800-221-9393.