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Guide to Wisconsin Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Guide to Wisconsin Student Loan Forgiveness Programs; Madison, Wisconsin, USA downtown skyline on Lake Monona
Jennifer Calonia
Jennifer CaloniaUpdated July 31, 2023
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Student loan borrowers residing in the Badger State and repaying student loans have a couple of state-based student loan forgiveness options. There are two Wisconsin student loan forgiveness programs designed for eligible health care professionals, both of which offer forgiveness awards of up to $50,000.Madison, Wisconsin ranks within the top three best cities for graduates to live while paying down education loans, which is fortunate. Participating in student loan forgiveness for Wisconsin residents can accelerate your student debt payoff.

Wisconsin Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

There are two opportunities for Wisconsin student loan forgiveness through the state’s Office of Rural Health.

Health Professions Loan Assistance Program

Health care professionals who are saddled with six-figure student loan debt can explore the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program.The program is available to certain health care providers, such as physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, as well as supporting providers, like dental hygienists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives. Qualifying student loans include federal and private loans.


The maximum award for physicians and dentists is $50,000, while other eligible professions can receive up to a $25,000 maximum forgiveness award. The total award you’ll receive is disbursed in annual payments throughout your three service years, and the forgiven award isn’t considered taxable income on your federal or state tax returns.Participants can receive a maximum of two forgiveness awards total, regardless of which Wisconsin student loan forgiveness program funded the award. 


In exchange for student loan forgiveness, Wisconsin participants must sign an agreement to serve full-time at an outpatient primary care facility for three years. This obligation must be fulfilled at a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) to qualify. However, physicians have the option to complete their service in a state-designated rural area. To apply for the forgiveness grant, you must also write a personal essay describing why you’ve chosen the area you’re serving and what you’ll need to consider to continue serving the area after completing your service commitment.Finally, your employer must complete a questionnaire on your behalf, and provide policy details regarding how it accommodates patients who are unable to pay for services. Your employer must also write a letter expressing their interest in retaining you as an employee.

Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program

Additional student loan forgiveness for Wisconsin primary care physicians and psychiatrists is available who agree to work in a state-designated rural area. This opportunity is the Office of Rural Health’s second Wisconsin student loan forgiveness program. The state defines “rural” as an area that’s not urbanized and has a population of less than 20,000 people. It must also be a minimum of 15 miles from a city, town, or village with a population of 20,000 people or greater.


The Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program offers up to a $50,000 forgiveness grant award to participating providers. Participants are restricted to a lifetime limit of two awards, from either Wisconsin student loan forgiveness program. 


In addition to satisfying the rural service area requirement, you’ll need to fill out an online application by the annual deadline, and provide proof that you completed your education or training. You’ll also need to submit a copy of your outstanding student loan balances, and write a personal essay explaining why your reason for choosing your practice location and what would cause you to continue serving the area after fulfilling your contract.The employer component (i.e. questionnaire, policy overview, and retention letter) of the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program is also required for the Rural Provider Loan Assistance Program.

Can You Get State and Federal Student Loan Forgiveness?

Depending on the federal student loan forgiveness program you’re participating in, you might be able to receive student loan forgiveness from Wisconsin as well as at the national level.Rules vary between loan assistance programs. For example, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), a federal entity, offers many forgiveness programs. But NHSC loan forgiveness participants are restricted from participating in any other forgiveness program. 

Other Ways to Pay Back Student Loans

Although state-sponsored student loan forgiveness for Wisconsin borrowers is a lucrative repayment option, there are other paths to repaying your student loan debt.

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

If you don’t qualify for either of the two Wisconsin student loan forgiveness programs above, you might have access to loan forgiveness programs for your federal student loan debt.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Federal loan borrowers with eligible loans can receive tax-free forgiveness on their remaining federal loan balance, after making 120 qualifying payments. During this repayment period, you must work full-time through a qualifying employer, such as a government entity or nonprofit organization, and make payments under an income-driven repayment plan.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: After five, full-time and consecutive service years, highly-qualified teachers can receive up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness, depending on the subject you teach. You must teach at a school or educational service agency that serves a low-income community.
  • Forgiveness via income-driven repayment: If your profession or employer isn’t eligible for the aforementioned forgiveness options, getting on an income-driven repayment plan can help you earn loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of repayment. (Some borrowers may be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years.) You must have eligible federal student loans to participate. After completing the plan’s required repayment period, any remaining balance is forgiven.
Typically, the forgiven amount is considered taxable income; however, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, this rule has been modified to exclude discharged student loans through 2025.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The U.S. Department of Education offers the following four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans to help borrowers pay down their federal student loan debt:Private student loans are not eligible for any federal repayment options, including IDR plans. Depending on your income and family size, all four IDR plans may offer a lower monthly payment compared with the Standard Repayment Plan.As mentioned above, all IDR plans can end with a borrower’s outstanding balance being forgiven at the end of the repayment period. Forgiveness may come after 20 or 25 years under any of the IDR plans, but forgiveness may come earlier for some SAVE Plan enrollees.Borrowers with original principal balances of $12,000 or less may be eligible for forgiveness of any remaining balance after making 10 years of payments under the SAVE Plan, according to the Federal Student Aid Office.

Student Loan Refinancing

A student loan refinance allows you to have a private lender repay the outstanding balance on your federal and private student loans. Once your original loan accounts are paid in full, you’ll start repayments to your new lender, based on a new interest rate and loan terms.The risks and benefits of student loan refinancing should be considered before moving forward. For example, an upside to refinancing is that you change your rates to a fixed or variable interest rate, and if you qualify, you might be able to secure a lower interest rate. You might also secure repayment terms through a student loan refinance that better align with your overall financial goals. The downside, however, is that a student loan refinance offers limited protections, compared to federal loans. If you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose government benefits, like general deferment and forbearance options; student loan forgiveness, like PSLF; and access to income-driven repayment plans.

The Takeaway

As a health professional you can potentially receive student loan forgiveness from Wisconsin’s loan assistance programs, as long as you meet specific requirements. Additionally, residents in the state still have access to federal loan forgiveness options, too. But not all borrowers are eligible for loan forgiveness programs.If loan forgiveness isn’t a fit for your situation, student loan refinancing is an alternate repayment solution. Lantern connects you with student loan refinancing options that match your borrowing needs. Shop for refinance student loans conveniently through our intuitive marketplace.   See your student loan refinance rates now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Wisconsin have any state student loan forgiveness programs?
Can you apply to federal and state student loan forgiveness programs?
Can you get all of your student loans forgiven?
Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

About the Author

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia is a Los Angeles-based finance writer who has covered the gamut, including student loans, credit card rewards, consumer loans, and debt. Her work has been featured in outlets like Bankrate, NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.
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