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Guide to Pharmacy School Loan Forgiveness

Guide to Pharmacy School Loan Forgiveness
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated October 25, 2022
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Doctors of Pharmacy can apply for pharmacist student loan forgiveness. The federal government, state governments, and U.S. armed forces may offer student loan forgiveness for pharmacists.A pharmacist may have to provide clinical pharmacy services or pharmaceutical care to underserved communities to qualify for certain pharmacist loan forgiveness programs. Below we highlight seven programs promoting pharmacy school loans forgiveness. 

How Much Does Pharmacy School Cost?

Pharmacy school can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Here’s a rundown on how much pharmacy school may cost by degree and institution:

Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Programs 

  • Annual tuition can cost between $20,000 and $70,000
  • Private school PharmD programs can cost more than public school PharmD programs
  • Public schools may charge out-of-state residents thousands of dollars more per year than in-state residents

Doctoral (PhD) Pharmaceutical Science Programs

  • Tuition can cost more than $2,000 per credit hour or well over $100K to complete a 64-credit PhD program for some pharmacy students
  • Private school PhD pharmaceutical programs can cost more than public school programs
  • Public schools may charge out-of-state residents hundreds of dollars more per credit hour than in-state residents

Master of Science (MS) Pharmaceutical Programs

  • Tuition and fees can cost about $700 per credit hour or more than $20,000 to complete a 32-credit program for some students
  • Private school MS pharmaceutical programs can cost more than public school programs
  • Public schools may charge out-of-state residents hundreds of dollars more per credit than in-state residents

7 Pharmacist Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Below we highlight seven pharmacist student loan forgiveness programs:

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a federal student loan forgiveness program available to eligible borrowers who work for a government agency or nonprofit organization. If you’re a pharmacist with federal student debt and work for a public board of pharmacy or nonprofit service group, you may qualify for PSLF pharmacist loan forgiveness.Borrowers who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness may have the remaining balance on their federal student loans forgiven after making 120 qualifying monthly repayments.

2. National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment

The National Institutes of Health offers two student loan repayment programs, including an extramural program for researchers not employed by NIH and an intramural program for researchers employed by NIH.Participants can receive up to $50,000 in annual student debt relief under an NIH loan repayment program, and the extramural program can specifically offer student loan forgiveness for pharmacists. U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree who conduct clinical pharmaceutical research funded by a U.S.-based nonprofit or government agency may be eligible for NIH loan repayment awards.

3. National Health Service Corps Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

Do pharmacists qualify for student loan forgiveness under the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program? Yes, pharmacists who work at an eligible substance use disorder treatment facility may qualify for student loan repayment assistance under this program.Pharmacists can receive up to $75,000 in student loan forgiveness in exchange for three years of full-time service at an approved SUD treatment facility. Such sites may include office-based opioid treatment facilities, state correctional facilities, federal prisons, and community health centers. Eligible applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.

4. Armed Forces Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program

Branches of the U.S. armed forces may offer military student loan forgiveness for pharmacists. The Army, for example, may offer up to $40,000 in annual loan forgiveness for pharmacists who enlist and serve on active duty.The Army’s Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program may require that pharmacists serve on active duty for at least two years to receive the pharmacy school loans forgiveness.

5. Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

Doctors of Pharmacy who serve at an Indian health facility may be eligible for student debt relief under the IHS Loan Repayment Program. You may be eligible for up to $40,000 in pharmacist student loan forgiveness under this program.Doctors of Pharmacy may have to complete at least two years of service at an Indian health facility to receive $40K in pharmacist loan forgiveness. Clinics administered by IHS or an American Indian tribal organization may qualify as Indian health facilities. 

6. Health Resources & Services Administration Faculty Loan Repayment Program

Do pharmacists qualify for student loan forgiveness under the HRSA Faculty Loan Repayment Program? Yes, pharmacists from an economically or environmentally disadvantaged background who serve as pharmacy school faculty members may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance under this program.Pharmacists can receive up to $40,000 in student loan forgiveness in exchange for two years of full-time or part-time service as a school faculty member. Eligible applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

7. State-Based Pharmacist Student Loan Forgiveness

States may offer student loan forgiveness for pharmacists. Delaware, for example, operates a state-based loan repayment assistance program that encourages internal medicine pharmacists, physicians, dentists, and nurses to work in a Delaware-based Health Professional Shortage Area.You can receive up to $100K of pharmacy school loans forgiveness under Delaware’s program. Doctors of Pharmacy may receive loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness

Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness

Here are some alternatives to student loan forgiveness:

Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing can provide you with non federal options for repaying your education loan debt. How student loan refinancing works is that borrowers submit an application with a private lender requesting a new loan agreement for refinancing student loan debt.Refinancing student debt can allow borrowers to replace their existing education loans with the terms and conditions of a private loan agreement. There are some potential risks and benefits of refinancing a student loanRefinancing your student loans may provide you with a lower interest rate. However, the portion of your federal student debt that you refinance loses its eligibility for federal loan forgiveness, including military student loan forgiveness for members of the U.S. armed forces. You can refinance a portion of your student loans if you qualify for student loan refinancing. Here are additional factors you may want to consider:

Grants for Paying Off Student Loans

Pell Grant eligibility can make college more affordable, and other grant-like programs can help you repay your student loans. Employers, for example, may offer student loan repayment programs benefiting their eligible employees.Employer student loan repayment assistance programs can provide eligible employees with thousands of dollars in student loan repayment benefits. This is essentially a grant that can help you pay off student loans early.How long does it take to pay off student loans? It can take borrowers between 10 to 30 years to pay off federal student loans and five to 25 years to pay off private student loans.Recommended: Guide to Paying Off Student Loans

Income-Based Repayment Plans

The U.S. Department of Education offers the following four income-driven repayment plans to help borrowers pay down their federal student loan debt:If your income is low enough, an income-driven repayment plan may provide you with $0 monthly payments for at least one year. These income-driven repayment plans may also lead to loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years for some borrowers.

Rates for Refinancing Student Debt

Student loan refinancing may be right for you if you can lock in a lower interest rate. Lantern by SoFi can help you compare student loan refinance rates. Explore your options without impacting your credit score and consider applying with a lender of your choice.Find and compare student loan refinance options with Lantern.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Are pharmacists included in PSLF?
How long does it take the average pharmacist to pay off student loans?
Can you qualify for PSLF while working at Walgreens or CVS?

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and currently serves as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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