Fight Substance Abuse, Get Your Student Loans Paid

It’s always exciting to be able to announce a new programs that can provide relief to student loan borrowers. The National Health Services Corp (NHSC), a federal agency, has established a new student loan repayment assistance program that can provide up to $75,000 to eligible borrowers who make a commitment to helping communities struggling with opioid addiction and substance abuse. The program is called the “Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program.”

Here’s how it works. The program is geared towards medical professionals – specifically physicians, registered nurses, licensed clinical social workers, and other similar health care workers. In order to qualify, you must be a health professional and you must agree to make a minimum three-year commitment working at an eligible “treatment site” in an “underserved community.” Treatments sites can include opioid treatment programs and outpatient substance abuse disorder sites. An underserved community is a particular designation provided by the NHSC to describe certain areas and communities that have a significant need for medical professionals; often these are rural, impoverished, or high-crime places. NHSC maintains a list of these high-need, underserved communities.

Borrowers who meet the criteria, are approved for the program, and keep their service commitment can get up to $75,000 in student debt relief – which can make a huge difference for health care workers, who tend to carry high student debt balances. NHSC expects to make around 1,100 awards under the program over the next few years, which would total over $80 million.

 This is a potentially valuable opportunity for student loan borrowers to participate in much-needed efforts to reduce substance abuse while also getting their student debt reduced. However, borrowers should be aware of the potential downside of these types of NHSC repayment assistance awards – if you agree to participate in the program and receive an award, but then become unable to fulfill or complete the minimum three-year service commitment (even if it’s for very good reasons), the award could be converted into a high-interest loan that must be repaid under very strict terms. This can get people into very serious trouble; if the newly-converted loan isn’t repaid quickly as required, it can lead to credit damage and collections litigation. So if you’re going to apply for this program, make sure it’s something you’re able and willing to commit to.

The first round of applications is due by February 21, 2019. You can get more information on the program here.

Source: Feb 16, 2019, 10:01am

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