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Guide to State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Guide to State-Based Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated October 13, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Student loan forgiveness programs coexist at the state level alongside federal debt relief programs. President Joe Biden has a plan to forgive $20K of student debt among eligible borrowers, and some of these borrowers may also benefit from state debt relief programs.What states offer student loan forgiveness? Every state across the United States has a student loan repayment assistance program. State student loan forgiveness programs exist in all 50 states, but some states allocate more funding to these programs than others. Below we highlight state programs for student loan forgiveness.

Why Are There State Based Student Loan Forgiveness?

State programs for student loan forgiveness exist largely to benefit underserved local areas. Many state-based programs offer student loan repayment assistance to doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, and lawyers.A typical state-based student loan forgiveness program may offer $25,000 in annual education loan repayment assistance to highly skilled professionals. The contract may require participants to provide professional services to rural communities within the state.Participants may receive loan repayment assistance if they work full time toward meeting the needs of an underserved community. The state benefits from this by attracting and retaining highly skilled and highly educated professionals who provide essential services to communities that may have a shortage of such workers.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs by State

Here are some student loan forgiveness programs by state:

1. Alabama

The Alabama Board of Nursing Student Loan Repayment Program provides eligible Alabama residents with education loans that they can repay by working in an area of critical need. Borrowers may repay the debt simply by working full time in a critical nursing role and submitting employment verification forms.

2. Alaska

Alaska’s SHARP Program gives primary health care professionals an incentive to provide patient care services at approved Alaskan sites in exchange for the repayment of qualifying educational loans. Practitioners must generally sign a service contract dedicating a minimum number of hours on a full-time or half-time clinical practice schedule.Tier-1 practitioners in 2022 may receive between $35,000 and $47,000 in student loan debt repayment support, while Tier-2 practitioners may receive between $20,000 and $27,000.

3. Arizona

The Arizona State Loan Repayment Program gives health care professionals an incentive to provide outpatient primary care services at Arizona’s medically underserved areas in exchange for the repayment of qualifying educational loans. Practitioners in this SLRP may sign up for an initial two-year commitment.Full-time physicians and dentists during their initial two-year contract may receive an SLRP award of up to $65,000.

4. Arkansas

The Arkansas State Teacher Education Program is a loan repayment program for public school teachers in Arkansas who work in a subject or geographic shortage area. Educators in the Arkansas STEP can receive award amounts up to $4,000 per year paid directly to their lenders.

5. California

California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information offers the following education loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program
  • Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Loan Repayment Program
  • Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program
  • California State Loan Repayment Program

6. Colorado

Colorado offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program
  • Rural Essential Access Provider (REAP) Loan Repayment Program
  • Colorado Health Service Corps Loan Repayment for Eligible Health Professionals
  • Colorado Health Service Corps State Dental Loan Repayment Program

7. Connecticut

Connecticut’s State Loan Repayment Program gives an incentive for health professionals to work in a medically underserved part of the state. Participants may receive student loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

8. Delaware

Delaware’s State Loan Repayment Program encourages dental and medical professionals to work in a Delaware-based Health Professional Shortage Area. Applicants can receive a Delaware SLRP award ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 in exchange for their service. The typical medical school cost is tens of thousands of dollars per year. This shows that programs like Delaware’s can provide physicians with substantial debt relief.

9. Florida

Florida’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program gives an incentive for licensed nurses to work in areas of the state with critical nursing shortages. Qualified applicants can receive nursing education loan repayment assistance under this program.

10. Georgia

Georgia’s Board of Health Care Workforce offers loan repayment assistance for doctors, dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses. Practitioners can receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for working full time in parts of Georgia’s underserved rural counties.

11. Hawaii

The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program (HSLRP) provides education loan repayment assistance to health professionals who work in underserved parts of the state. Participants generally receive student loan repayment assistance in exchange for a two-year commitment of service at HSLRP sites.

12. Idaho

Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare offers the following education loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Idaho State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
  • Rural Physician Incentive Program (RPIP)
  • Rural Health Care Access Program (RHCAP)

13. Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health, Center for Rural Health offers a State Loan Repayment Program. Participants in this program can receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for working in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area of Illinois.

14. Indiana

Indiana’s Health Care Professional Recruitment and Retention Fund Program offers student loan repayment assistance to psychiatrists, substance use counselors, and primary care physicians. Participants in the program may receive loan repayment assistance in exchange for working in underserved parts of Indiana with high rates of opioid overdose deaths.

15. Iowa

The Iowa Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program offers education loan repayment assistance to primary care medical, dental, and mental health practitioners. Participants may receive the loan repayment assistance in exchange for working at a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area in Iowa.

16. Kansas

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment offers a State Loan Repayment Program that offers eligible health care professionals an opportunity to receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. 

17. Kentucky

Kentucky has a State Loan Repayment Program that gives health care professionals an incentive to work in an underserved part of Kentucky. Participants may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for completing a minimum service commitment. Another program, the Kentucky Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative, gives behavioral health professionals an incentive to work in rural and underserved parts of Kentucky. Applicants in the initiative agree to use KBHWI funds only to repay qualifying education loans.

18. Louisiana

The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program offers physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, and other health professionals an incentive to work in rural and underserved parts of the state. Participants can use this funding toward the repayment of qualifying educational loan balances.

19. Maine

Maine’s State Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in rural and underserved parts of Maine. Participants in the program may receive financial assistance to repay their student loan debt.

20. Maryland

Here are Maryland’s loan repayment assistance programs for health professionals:
  • Maryland State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) 
  • Maryland Loan Assistance Repayment Program (MLARP)

21. Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in underserved communities in Massachusetts. Participants may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

22. Michigan

Michigan’s State Loan Repayment Program requires participants to provide health care services to underserved parts of Michigan. Participants who complete their service obligations may receive education loan repayment assistance.

23. Minnesota

Minnesota’s State Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in underserved parts of Minnesota. Participants who provide outpatient clinic-based primary health care services may receive education loan repayment assistance.

24. Mississippi

Mississippi’s Winter-Reed Teacher Loan Repayment Program gives an incentive for new teachers to work in a Mississippi public school district. A first-year teacher working in a school identified as a geographical critical shortage area may receive $4,000 in education loan repayment assistance.

25. Missouri

Missouri’s Nurse Loan Repayment Program is administered by the state Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. It offers education loan repayment assistance to professional nurses who work in a Missouri hospital or designated Health Professional Shortage Area.Another program, the Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri (PRIMO), can provide Missouri residents with education loans to study medicine followed by loan repayment assistance.

26. Montana

Montana’s State Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in underserved parts of Montana. Participants who provide primary care services in an outpatient ambulatory care setting may receive education loan repayment assistance.

27. Nebraska

Nebraska’s State Loan Repayment Program gives primary care, mental, dental, and certain allied health professionals an incentive to work in underserved parts of Nebraska. Doctors and dentists under this program can receive $60,000 per year for three years toward education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their services.

28. Nevada

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation, and Technology manages the Pennington Rural Health Service Loan Repayment Program that gives health professionals an incentive to work in underserved parts of rural Nevada. Participants in this program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

29. New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s State Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in medically underserved parts of the state. Participants in this program may receive financial support for professional education loan repayments in exchange for their service.

30. New Jersey

New Jersey offers the following student loan redemption programs through its Higher Education Student Assistance Authority:
  • John R. Justice Loan Redemption program for attorneys
  • New Jersey STEM Loan Redemption Program for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals
  • Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program
  • Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program
  • NJCLASS Loan Redemption Program for New Jersey teachers

31. New Mexico

New Mexico offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Health Professional Loan Repayment Program
  • Public Service Law Loan Repayment Program
  • Teacher Loan Repayment Program
  • New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Worker Loan Repayment Program
  • Minority Doctoral Loan Repayment Program

32. New York

New York offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • New York State Doctors Across New York (DANY) Physician Loan Repayment initiative
  • Loan Forgiveness for District Attorneys and Indigent Legal Services Attorneys
  • Loan Forgiveness for Licensed Social Workers
  • New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program
  • New York State ‘Get on Your Feet’ Loan Forgiveness Program
  • Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program
  • New York State Child Welfare Worker Loan Forgiveness Program
  • New York State Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

33. North Carolina

North Carolina offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • North Carolina State Loan Repayment Program for mental health providers (SLRP)
  • North Carolina Loan Repayment Program for health professionals (NC LRP)
  • North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation for attorneys (NC LEAF)

34. North Dakota

North Dakota offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Health Care Professional Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program 
  • Dentists’ Loan Repayment Program
  • North Dakota’s Federal State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)

35. Ohio

Ohio offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program (OPLRP)
  • Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP)
  • Ohio Dental Hygienist Loan Repayment Program (ODHLRP)
  • Ohio Substance Use Disorder Professional Loan Repayment Program (SUDLRP)

36. Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Dental Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP) provides education loan repayment assistance to dentists who work in underserved parts of the state. Participants may receive up to $50,000 per year toward loan repayment assistance.

37. Oregon

Oregon offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Oregon Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program (OBHLRP)
  • Oregon Health Care Provider Incentive Loan Repayment
  • Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)

38. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program (LRP) for health professionals
  • Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts Board (IOLTA) Loan Repayment Assistance Program for attorneys

39. Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Health Professional Loan Repayment Program gives primary care, dentistry, and mental health providers an incentive to work in medically underserved parts of the state. Participants in this program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

40. South Carolina

The South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC) administers the following student loan repayment programs:
  • Rural Dentist Loan Repayment Program
  • Marlboro County General Hospital Loan Repayment Program

41. South Dakota

South Dakota’s Department of Health has a Recruitment Assistance Program offering incentive payments to qualifying physicians, dentists, and nurses who work in rural parts of South Dakota. Participants may use the incentive payment toward student loan repayments.Delta Dental of South Dakota, meanwhile, has a Repayment for Service Program that provides student loan repayment assistance to new dentists who agree to serve a selected percentage of low-income patients.

42. Tennessee

The Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program gives health professionals an incentive to work in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas of Tennessee. Participants in this program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

43. Texas

Texas offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • Physician Education Loan Repayment Program for doctors (PELRP)
  • Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals
  • Nursing Faculty Loan Repayment Assistance Program for nurses
  • Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program for nonphysician health care professionals (RCHIP)
  • Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program for teachers
  • Peace Officer Loan Repayment Assistance Program for qualifying peace officers 
  • Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program for educators (TFTLRAP)

44. Utah

Utah’s Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program gives physicians an incentive to practice medicine in rural parts of Utah. Participants in this program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

45. Vermont

Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program for Health Care Professionals gives an incentive for doctors, nurses, and dentists to work in underserved parts of Vermont. Participants in this program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.

46. Virginia

Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program gives qualified medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmaceutical professionals an incentive to work in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas statewide. Participants in the program may receive education loan repayment assistance in exchange for their service.Meanwhile, graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law may qualify for the school’s Virginia Loan Forgiveness Program. Eligible UVA law school alumni working in a public service position may receive an annual benefit in the form of a forgivable loan. The benefit is intended to help graduates pay off their federal student loans for law school.

47. Washington

Washington has several student loan repayment assistance programs for health professionals. These include the following Washington Health Corps programs:
  • Federal Health Program for doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists (FHP) 
  • State Health Program for doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists (SHP)
  • Behavioral Health Program for mental health professionals (BHP)

48. West Virginia

West Virginia offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs:
  • West Virginia State Loan Repayment Program for health professionals
  • Recruitment and Retention Community Project for doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists (RRCP)

49. Wisconsin

Wisconsin offers the following student loan repayment assistance programs to eligible health professionals:
  • Wisconsin Health Professions Loan Assistance Program (HPLAP)
  • Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program

50. Wyoming

Wyoming may offer student loan repayment assistance under the following programs authorized by state law:
  • Wyoming Physician and Dentist Loan Repayment Program
  • Wyoming Veterinary Loan Repayment Program
Of the 50 states highlighted above, which states tax student loan forgiveness? Arkansas, California, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Wisconsin could potentially tax the $20K in debt relief that eligible borrowers may receive under President Biden’s broad student loan forgiveness plan, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit policy group.

Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness

Below we highlight some alternatives to student loan forgiveness:

Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing is an action that replaces your existing student loans with a new loan issued by a private lender. Refinancing might not be right for you if you’re eligible for student loan forgiveness. 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 federal student loans can allow borrowers to replace their existing federal loans with the terms and conditions of a private loan agreement. Private lenders can set their own underwriting standards, but some may require applicants to have steady income and good credit. For subprime borrowers, it might be difficult to refinance student loans with bad credit.Reviewing the advantages and risks of student loan refinancing can help you decide whether refinancing is right for you. One of the advantages of refinancing student loans is it may provide you with a lower interest rate. One of the big disadvantages of refinancing student loans with a private lender, however, is you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits. Refinancing federal student loans will remove your access to federal loan forgiveness programs, although you may still qualify for state loan forgiveness programs.The difference between private and federal student loans is that federal student loans are provided exclusively by the U.S. Department of Education, whereas banks, credit unions, and other lenders not affiliated with the federal government may offer private student loans. Recommended: Overview of Refinancing Medical School Loans

Grants for Paying Off Student Loans

Grants are among the financial aid options that students may secure to help pay for tuition and other higher education expenses. Getting a grant is like getting free money — you don’t have to repay it.Students may apply for financial assistance under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA® form. The way how FAFSA works is you complete and submit the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid options, including federal student loans.It can take borrowers years or decades to pay off student loan debt in some cases. The average time to pay off student loans can range from 10 to 30 years for borrowers with federal student loans and five to 25 years for borrowers with private student loans. Some borrowers may never finish repaying a student loan during their lifetime. What happens to student loans when you die is the debt might be discharged, although some private lenders may demand repayment from your estate.Recommended: How Much Student Loan Debt Is Too Much?

Income-Based Repayment Plans

The federal government offers income-driven repayment plans that may lead to loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years. As of September 2022, the U.S. Department of Education offers the following IDR plans to help borrowers pay down their federal student loan debt:The U.S. Department of Education, meanwhile, is proposing a rule that would forgive loan balances after 10 years of payments for some borrowers with an IDR plan. The Biden administration’s proposed rule would also allow some federal student loan borrowers to have monthly payments as low as 5% of their discretionary income. The Biden administration’s broad student loan forgiveness plan would provide up to $10K in debt relief to federal student loan borrowers with annual incomes below $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). Some borrowers may qualify for $20K in debt forgiveness if they’re Pell Grant recipients who fall below the income cap. Recommended: Ideas for Repaying Student Loans

The Takeaway

State programs for student loan forgiveness exist, but state student loan forgiveness programs may not be as broad as federal debt relief programs. Student loan refinancing may be right for borrowers who don’t qualify for state or federal loan forgiveness programs.

3 Student Loan Refinance Tips

  • Once the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments ends, going back to making payments may be hard on budgets. One solution is to refinance to a lower interest rate, longer loan term, or both, depending on your situation. (The tradeoff is that you’ll be forfeiting federal benefits such as repayment programs.) Find and compare your student loan refinance options.
  • Paying extra each month on your student loan can reduce the interest you pay and so lower your total loan cost over time. (The law prohibits prepayment penalties on federal or private student loans.)
  • If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school, you may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.
Explore your student loan refinancing options with Lantern.
Photo credit: iStock/wagnerokasaki
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice. LCSL0822017

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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