The United States government is making an effort to ease the burden of student debt on new and current physician assistants. The Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Education are in the process of finalizing the details of the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants (SLRP-PA).

What is the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants?

From April 2019, Physicians Assistant assistants (PA) will be able to participate in a program to help reduce their student loan debt and allow them to practice more in underserved communities. The new program could potentially allow approximately 30% of eligible physician assistants (PA) to pay off their student debt in less than ten years.

The SLRP-PA does not involve loans to pay off the debt. Instead, the PA receives a monthly stipend, or a stipend check, for participating in the program. If a physician assistant stays in the program and the stipend is paid out, the PA will reduce their student loan debt. The exact stipend for participating in the SLRP-PA has not been announced yet. However, the PA will be able to receive a stipend for a year, at $1,600 per month.

Who is Eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants?

Under the SLRP-PA, full-time student loan borrowers in graduate and post-graduate programs are eligible for a student loan repayment program with a limited income-driven repayment plan. Eligible borrowers can receive up to $11,250 in annual student loan forgiveness depending on income and length of the program. The program is a part of President Obama’s Higher Education Act of 2010 (HEA). What Is a Physician Assistant? An Assistant Physician is a registered nurse that has completed a Master of Science degree in their specialty and completed the allied health associate degree and passed the licensing exam and has at least two years of supervised clinical experience, which is usually in the clinical setting.

Which PAs are Eligible for the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants?

Student Loan Repayment and Forgiveness for Physicians Assistants - Student Image.

In 2014, President Obama called for the program to be piloted to provide direct financial assistance to primary care physicians that serve as student loan repayment advisors. Over a two year period, the program is slated to partner with states to provide pilot funding to States who establish and run their own programs. Each program will be dedicated to helping train new primary care physician assistants in order to recruit new applicants to the profession, and to provide existing PSAs who have an interest in becoming mentors for new PSAs who want to enter the field. The program is expected to help PSAs pursue their career without the fear of mounting student loan debt.

How to Apply for the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants

Beginning in June, the SLRP-PA will reimburse existing physician assistants for their student loans. The program will cover up to $200,000 of an individual physician assistant’s student loans. One step of the application process requires new physician assistants to undergo a personal finance quiz. The quiz is meant to highlight important aspects of student loan repayment, including the average cost of a doctor’s office visit, the average cost of an annual car insurance payment, and the approximate monthly payment for a car lease. Once a physician assistant is eligible for the program, they can submit an application through their state’s licensing board. State licensing boards will randomly select individuals to be reimbursed by the program.

How to Qualify for the Student Loan Repayment Program for Physician Assistants

Eligibility is based on eligibility for the PA Educational Loan Program, which is administered by the Federal Student Aid Office. Applicants must have completed a program in the preceding 12 months (or enrolled in a course in the preceding 12 months) that was accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and previously granted an individual, as opposed to aggregate, PA license. Additionally, applicants must have: Substantially exhausted their initial educational loan (e.g.)

For more review of refinance student loans, check out The Case for Student Loan Forgiveness.