NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

When it comes to forgiveness and repayment programs, nurses are incredibly lucky. No other occupation has access to such a high number of available financial assistance opportunities. The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is one such opportunity that brings impressive benefits in a short period of time. In return for only two years of commitment, participants of the program receive a 60% reduction. Even better, they can extend their contracts to get an additional 25% decrease in their remaining debt. 

Forget Student Debt wants to make this opportunity available to anyone who can be eligible. Therefore, we aim to eliminate any misunderstanding about the program and make all the details clear to prospective applicants. You can get familiar with the main points of the repayment below. Read this guide carefully, and if you have any questions or concerns, contact us now. Do not forget that the application to NURSE Corps Loan Repayment 2020 is due on March 12, so act fast!

Which Service Options are Available in the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program?

There are two types of service options eligible for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment. The first one is the contract that you have made for serving as a registered or Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). The second contract is for people who serve as nurse faculty at an eligible school. You should keep in mind that you can only choose one of them. Once you make your decision, there will not be any opportunity to switch the service option. When you receive the award, you need to deliver a service that fits your contract for at least two years. You can also have the optional continuation contract.

Pros and Cons of the Program

One of the apparent benefits of the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is that it reduces your outstanding debt, similar to other student loan aid plans. However, different from most others, this program brings substantial financial assistance in a short period of time. Borrowers can get a 60% reduction in the return of only two years of commitment. Plus, there is a possibility of extending the contract. Though there is no guarantee for an extension, you still have the chance to get an additional 25% cancellation for your remaining debt. 

Another advantage of the program is that you will help people who are extremely in need of health care services. Participants of the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program serve in Critical Shortage Facilities. These facilities are located in socio-economically poor regions where the number of Nurses is low. Therefore, by agreeing to be a part of the program, you will serve for a more ‘charitable’ purpose than just making money. 

The program also involves some drawbacks. First, you cannot serve half-time. All eligible applicants need to work full-time for two years. Also, if you choose your service type, there is no chance to switch later. Lastly, during your commitment to CSF or HPSA, you can get a lower salary. The reason is that those facilities are usually located in socio-economically poor regions.

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What is the Eligibility Criteria?

Similar to other loan repayment plans, this program also has several requirements that applicants need to satisfy. Here is the detailed explanation of each criterion:

  1. Citizenship Requirement for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

To be eligible, applicants need to be U.S citizens, U.S National, or Legal Permanent Residents. You must be able to provide documentation that is required to prove your citizenship. These documents include:

  • U.S Birth Certificate
  • U.S Passport ID page – please, keep in mind that it should not be expired
  • U.S Passport Card
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Naturalization Certificate
  • Enhanced Driver’s License 
  • Green Card – Permanent Resident Card

You should also consider that the program does not accept your Nursing License, Social Security Card, or state ID as proof of citizenship or permanent address. 

  1. Educational Background

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Plan requires applicants to have nursing-related educational qualifications. You can apply to the program if you have received a baccalaureate/associate/graduate/doctorate in nursing and a diploma in nursing. Therefore, you can only participate in the program if you have completed your nursing degree that leads to debts. Besides, there are specific requirements in addition to these qualifications. For instance, if you are a Psych nurse practitioner, you should have a master’s or higher degree in nursing with a specialization in psychiatric-mental health.

Also, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education should accredit this degree. Likewise, these specifications also vary for Women’s Health nurse practitioners and registered nurses with OB/GYN certification. Therefore, it is wise to check the exact details of educational requirements or get the help of a third party, like Forget Student Debt, who can guide you through this complicated process. 

  1. Employment

To satisfy the employment criteria, some requirements need to be fulfilled. First, you should work in a scheduled full-time position as a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse. Full-time work means a minimum of 32 hours per week. Second, your workplace matters. Eligible applicants are employed in public or private non-profit Critical Shortage Facility. Plus, you can work as a full-time nurse faculty member in one of the qualifying schools of nursing, public or private non- profit organization. However, you should keep in mind that your working hours in a PRN, per diem, or on-call conditions do not count for 32 hours of work.  

  1. Qualifying Loans

Another eligibility criterion for NURSE Corps Loan Repayment is that at the time of application, you need to have outstanding debt from qualifying loans. As you may have already noticed, there again raises issues about what officiates ‘qualifying loans’? 

First, you must get this debt while seeking a diploma or a degree in nursing. Any cost that you incurred for tuition fee, or logical educational and living expenses, will count for this criteria. Your debt can include government or commercial loans that you obtained while studying in a nursing school for nursing education. Also, if you have attended prerequisite courses at a non-nursing school, you are still eligible for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment 2020. The main requirement is that you should, in the end, obtain a nursing degree. Any other degree will disqualify your loans for prerequisite courses.

  1. License

Another criterion for getting NURSE Corps Loan Repayment is the existence of a license to practice as a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse. Besides, you can be pursuant to the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact. Your license will be eligible if you have it in the state that you are going to work. Plus, the license should be: 

  • Full
  • Current
  • Permanent
  • Unencumbered
  • Unrestricted 

There is also an additional requirement for Psych NPs, which demands them to have a license, certificate, or registration from a behavioral mental health Critical Shortage Facility. 

If you intend to work as a federal employee or in a tribal health program, you need to be a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse with a license from any state. However, the tribal health program should be in a state where this program serves based on the conditions of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

Additionally, in case you wish to practice in Puerto Rico, you should have a license to work in this territory. Also, you need to upload a copy of this nursing license and certificate during the online application.

What If You Consolidated Loans?

It is also possible that you had more than one student loan and decided to consolidate them. Consolidation is not a barrier to your application to the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Plan. However, you should submit all the related documentation of consolidation or refinance during the online application. If these documents are missing, your request will not qualify. Also, consider that the original loan dates of all consolidated or refinanced loans should be during the time of your nursing education. Again, both federal and private loans that satisfy the conditions mentioned before will be eligible for repayment. 

When am I considered Ineligible?

Simply put, if your qualifications do not match the eligibility criteria, you will be disqualified. However, some points need a little clarification. 

  1. If you face any judgment lien for your federal debt, you are not eligible. Judgment lien happens when you do not fulfill your obligations, and the court allows creditors to take your possession.
  2. You should not have defaulted federal or non-federal payment obligations. For instance, if you were unable to pay your court-ordered child support or income tax, then you will lose your chance to apply this plan.
  3. No debt or payment should be written off as uncollectible or get waived. 
  4. If you have another service obligation, it should end before the application deadline. For instance, if you get other repayment plans or scholarship programs, your obligation towards them must finish before your application deadline for NURSE Corps Loan Repayment. 

Note: Reservists of Armed Forces, as well as the National Guard, can participate in this plan. However, if you participate in military training or if your service does not qualify for this plan and it exceeds 35 workdays, you must call a suspension. As a result, payments during active duty will not be made. However, when you go back to full-time service, they will resume. Also, your service time will extend to cover any period that did not qualify.

  1. Applicants should not default to a prior service required for federal, state, or local government. Even if you satisfy your obligation later, this will not count. Besides, excluded, suspended, debarred applicants from a federal agency will not benefit from this program. 

Application Process

There are three stages to applying for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program. First, you need to make an online application and fill all the required information. The next two stages include requiring additional documentation. Required documents can consist of Proof of Citizenship, transcript, resume, loan documents, and more. Meanwhile, you can be asked to submit other documents after the officials check your online application. Examples of these documents can be a marriage license, divorce decree, and others. 

Selection Factors

There are three main factors that affect your chance for selection. These elements are the debt to salary ratio, CSF/HPSA Score, and background of students that Nurse Educators teach. 

The first criterion is the debt to salary ratio. You can easily calculate this ratio by dividing your total loan amount by the base annual salary. Base salary is your gross yearly income without deduction of taxes, insurance, and others. Borrowers with high ratios have better chances of selection. The general practice is dividing applicants into two groups: the ones with more than 100% debt to income ratio and the ones with lower than 100% ratio. If your rate is more than 100%, it means your outstanding balance of the debt is much higher than your annual income. Then, you will have a better chance. 

The second factor is the score of your workplace, either the Health Professional Shortage Area or Critical Shortage Facility. Again, the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program divides applicants into two categories. One category gathers debtors who are working in a facility with more than 14 scores. Keep in mind that the highest score is 25. The other group includes applicants working in 13 or less scored facilities. 

Sure, applicants who work in a facility with a 14-25 score and have at least a 100% debt to income ratio are given priority to receive financial assistance. The second lucky group of people falls under the 14-25 scored CSF or HPSA, but this time with less than 100% debt to salary ratio. 

Nurse Educator’s Selection

As Nurse Educators do not serve in health care facilities, the CSF/HPSA score factor loses its power for selection. Instead, the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment program utilizes the background of students and debt to income ratio to decide who will receive the award. 

To maximize your chance, you should have more than 100% debt to income ratio as before. Plus, at least 50% of the students studying in your nursing school should have a disadvantageous background. The following category of applicants who will have priority still needs to satisfy the high debt to income ratio factor, but working in all other nursing schools will be okay.  

What is “Disadvantageous” Background?

There are two types of Disadvantaged Background(DAB): environmental and economical. Your workplace will be considered to serve environmentally DAB students if: 

  • Students scored low on the SAT or ACT when they graduated from high school
  • The school is located in a district where less than half of the graduates of high school choose to go to college
  • Students with physical or mental impairment issues which lowers their educational abilities
  • The students’ national languages are different from English, and it limits their academic performance
  • The high school they studied serves people who receive free or price-reduced lunches, for up to 30% of students.
  • The students’ families get public assistance in the form of housing, food stamps, and more. 

Some conditions make the education facility eligible for DAB. For instance, if the students got a Pell grant, or their families generate income that is less than the low-income threshold. In case you teach in one the institutions that satisfy any of those conditions, you will have a higher probability of selection for the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

Previous Statistics of Awardees

The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is very competitive. Because of its vast benefit, many nurses and other health professionals apply to this program. During 2017-2019, the number of applicants was in the range of 7500-8500. Among these applications, the program awarded only around 500-600 people. The number of successful applications increased each year. While only 501 applications received a 60% reduction opportunity in 2017, this number increased to 556 in 2019. We also expect that the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment 2020 program will bring benefits to more applicants. 

As we said before, there is a chance to apply for an extension of the initial award contract by one more year. This additional year of commitments will reduce your debt further by 25%. However, not every awardee can get an extension. In general, roughly 50% of the initial awardees receive an extra reduction in previous years.

Awarding Process

If your application to the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is successful, you will receive a Confirmation of Interest via email. As the name suggests, this email requires you to confirm your application and the continuation of your eligibility. You need to enter the BHW Portal and log in to your account. There you can verify your condition by entering an electronic signature. Please, do not forget that this confirmation does not guarantee the award. The award usually depends on the availability of funds. 

However, think carefully before taking any steps on this Portal. First, if you put an electronic signature, it will have the same effect as a handwritten one. It means you will be obliged to commit a service for two-years. Second, if you miss the deadline for confirmation, you will lose your chance. Therefore, keep an eye on the deadlines for acceptance. Next, it is also possible that you want to decline the offer. Then, you should again log into your account and check the decline box. Be aware that if you decline the offer once, there is no way to change your decision and receive the award. Also, you will not face any penalty for canceling your application if the Secretary has not countersigned the contract yet. However, after countersigning, you cannot withdraw without paying the penalty. 

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Service Commitment

The date when the Secretary countersigns the contract indicates the start of your two-year commitment. You need to show up at an effective time of the agreement. Otherwise, as you have legal obligations, you can face default or lose your chance for any other financial assistance.

In the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, you will receive an award in the form of monthly funds. The financial assistance amount will be transferred to your account with the bank routing number. Therefore, you need to provide your deposit banking details during the Confirmation of Interest. Usually, awardees receive the first payments around 60 days after they start service. They must use these funds to pay their loans. Generally, the program administrators contact your lender to confirm that you used the award to reduce your debt. Also, keep in mind that you can access your Award Letter, Welcome Packet, and Participant Award Worksheet through the BHW Portal. 

Details of Mandatory Service

You need to continue to work as a Registered Nurse or an Advanced Practice Nurse for two years. Your mandatory service starts when the contract is active. It is at the time of countersign by the Secretary of HHS. Till that date, you will not receive any credit for serving. Besides, awardees do not get any credit for working in training or postgraduate residency programs. 

Awardees also choose one of the two types of available services. They either work in a Critical Shortage Facility or as an educator in an eligible Nursing School. After they start their commitment, there is no chance to switch between these two options. 

During your two year commitment, you need to work full time. If you serve in a CSF, full time means 128 hours in a month and at least 45 weeks in a year. For Nursing educators, full-time work is defined by the employer. Usually, it is based on nine months of service. Also, consider that you cannot complete your mandatory service with half-time work. 

Absences

Work Commitment condition of the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program allows awardees 35 workdays of absence. If you were away for more than seven weeks per year, the end date of the contract would shift. You will not also receive credits for the period that you requested a suspension. Usually, awardees get suspension if they expect that they will be absent for more than seven weeks. 

Verification

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment requires its participants to submit an In-Service Verification. This document allows officials to check if you comply with the service requirements, such as full-time work or a maximum of 7-week absence. You need to fill and submit this form every six months. If you work in more than one site, then you should submit separate forms for each of them. 

Participants receive an email that indicates when the In-Service Verification is due. If you miss the deadline, they can stop the payments. Plus, you can lose any future chance of applying to other programs. Therefore, make sure that you submit the form in the BHW Portal on time. 

Leaving Service Commitment or Transferring

If you stopped working in the CSF before you get approval from the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is not advisable at all. You can get the default, or all your payments can be suspended in such a case. If you resign or your initial CSF terminates your contract, payment aids will stop immediately. The good news is that you will receive some time to find a new eligible workplace. However, if you fail to find a job during this time range, the program will recommend you to default. 

However, transferring your approved facility to a different one is possible. Though it is preferable if you stay in the first Critical Shortage Facility or Nursing School, you can change your workplace. To do so, you need to apply for a change through the BHW Portal. Your new destination should have the same or higher funding preference. Also, your request should indicate the reason clearly and determine if the new site is eligible. After application, you will receive a notification that approves or declines your transfer request. 

Additionally, if there is a break between your stop date in the first place and start date in a new site, it can affect the payments. In case this break is a maximum of 30 days, you will receive the funds on time. However, if it is more than 30 days, the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program will seize all payments. Then, when you start your full-time work in a new facility, they will resume the fund inflow. Yet, the end date of your contract can prolong for such a break. 

Get FSD by Your Side

As you are already familiar, this program brings enormous benefits to debtors. 60% reduction only for two years is an excellent opportunity compared to other forgiveness programs that require up to 10 years of commitment. However, this benefit does not come without its costs. Application to the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program demands much time and effort to collect or submit all the documents. Also, it includes a multitude of tiny details which many applicants can ignore. Therefore, to maximize your chance of being an awardee, it is advisable to get expert help by Forget Student Debt. We will guide you through the whole process and assist you in applying to the program successfully. Do not let lack of time, attention, or patience be a barrier in your way. Contact us now and enjoy the full accompaniment of experts in every critical decision.