National Guard Programs and Medical School/Residency (STRAP, MDSSP, HPLRP, etc.)

Nov 18, 2019
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Hey everyone, I'm currently just a premed but am interested in military medicine in the future. I was initially interested in HPSP if I earned the opportunity to go to medical school but browsing SDN, it seems that the cons outweigh the pros. Assuming that I went to an instate medical school in the future (Texas) where tuition is around $20,000/year, which Guard program is better? (Not the greatest worded question, sorry). Also, if you did go the Guard/reservist route, which program did you take and why, how has/was your experience with the military, and do you recommend it to others? I'm not primarily interested in the Guard due to financial reasons as I have the desire to serve in the future, but I do see it as a plus. I listed out some info that I found on their website but would also like input on whether it's a good idea to combine some of these programs like STRAP with HPLRP or STRAP with MDSSP. Thanks in advance!

HPLRP:
  • 7 year commitment
  • Loan repayment up to $250,000
STRAP:
  • Stipend during residency
  • 1 year obligation per 6 months of taking stipend.
MDSSP:
  • Monthly stipend with also a 1 year obligation per 6 months of taking stipend
  • Stipend during medical school
 

el mero mero

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Nov 28, 2010
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I'm reserve not Guard so take what I write with a grain of salt.
In theory, you can take all all three. MDSSP requires 8 year payback (4y x2y committment) but you can pay back some of those years during STRAP (ie 3 years... which would be a 6y committment). At that point you would owe 5 years from MDSSP (8-3) plus 6 years from STRAP for a total of 11 years. You can take HPLR up to 7y/$250k during STRAP. It's complicated but simply you cannot start STRAP payback while you continue to receive HPLR.

The simple option is to delay it all unless your sure you want to be in for a long time, in other words, join after residency. Accession and retention bonuses are between $25-$50k annually and you will also qualify for HPLR.
Also, some states offer full tuition waivers for guard members... If I remember correctly you can go to medical school in NJ tuition free if you're in the guard. It varies by state and funding... YMMV

You also need to consider what kind of specialty you want to do. National Guard positions are primarily Role 1 and Role 2 (e.g. field surgeon, EM, FM). If you want to specialize, most of the billets are at a role 3 and thus with the Army Reserve.
Hope this helps.
 
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Nov 18, 2019
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I'm reserve not Guard so take what I write with a grain of salt.
In theory, you can take all all three. MDSSP requires 8 year payback (4y x2y committment) but you can pay back some of those years during STRAP (ie 3 years... which would be a 6y committment). At that point you would owe 5 years from MDSSP (8-3) plus 6 years from STRAP for a total of 11 years. You can take HPLR up to 7y/$250k during STRAP. It's complicated but simply you cannot start STRAP payback while you continue to receive HPLR.

The simple option is to delay it all unless your sure you want to be in for a long time, in other words, join after residency. Accession and retention bonuses are between $25-$50k annually and you will also qualify for HPLR.
Also, some states offer full tuition waivers for guard members... If I remember correctly you can go to medical school in NJ tuition free if you're in the guard. It varies by state and funding... YMMV

You also need to consider what kind of specialty you want to do. National Guard positions are primarily Role 1 and Role 2 (e.g. field surgeon, EM, FM). If you want to specialize, most of the billets are at a role 3 and thus with the Army Reserve.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for the response!
 
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USCguy

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Nov 3, 2005
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HPLR is a year for year obligation. Just want to clarify that you don’t have to take the 6 years (240,000) if you don’t need it (you can only take enough to pay federal loan principal, not accrued interest). I did 3 payments which extended my strap payback by two years (took first HPLR payment during my third year of residency). You certainly wouldnt give a year for the last $10,000 payment if that is actually an option.

If you did all the programs beginning in M1 year (4 years of MDSSP, 3 year residency receiving STRAP, and 6 years of HPLR beginning in the 3rd year of residency) you would owe 15 years of your post-training life in order to pay it all back. That would push you to 22 years of service so you could retire at the end of your payback. You would have to see if the retirement would be beneficial for you. That’s a big commitment on top of whatever other requirements you have on your time during your 30’s and 40’s. If you get a 4 day per week job with no call and no weekends, drill isn’t bad. If you have to take call one or two weekends per month and then also go to drill; it gets old quick
 
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USCguy

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My recommendation would be to combine STRAP and HPLR as the most efficient program for trainees. If you can wait till you are done and take the regular physician bonuses and HPLR, you will probably do best in terms of time commitment.

personally, the extra money in residency was a game changer for my family ($25,000 on top of my salary of 48,000 at the time). $25,000 per year on top of my current salary (between $300-400k) doesn’t change my life a whole bunch
 
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el mero mero

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Nov 28, 2010
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My recommendation would be to combine STRAP and HPLR as the most efficient program for trainees. If you can wait till you are done and take the regular physician bonuses and HPLR, you will probably do best in terms of time commitment.

personally, the extra money in residency was a game changer for my family ($25,000 on top of my salary of 48,000 at the time). $25,000 per year on top of my current salary (between $300-400k) doesn’t change my life a whole bunch

I agree with your sentiment. I took STRAP and even though the commitment is longer, the money during residency was helpful and for me ultimately worth it.

I wanted to add my situation to clarify.
I took STRAP and HPLR during my four years of residency. I received my ~$2k stipend along with drill pay. I received $40k (~$28k post tax) in loan repayment. Through STRAP I incurred a commitment of 2 years per each year of stipend (total of 8 years). As USCguy alluded too, HPLR do not incur an obligation. The benefit is paid in return for service. In other words, for each year served the Soldier is then eligible for loan repayment for said year. I utilized HPLR for 4 years ($160,000). I did not elect for the to utilize the final three years. There is an option to continue with HPLR prior to STRAP payback. However, this would have added 3 years to my contract.
The decision to continue HPLR is ultimately personal and depends on the Solider's situation.

Sorry if its confusing but TLDR
4 years STRAP/8 years commitment. Used HPLR concurrently for $160k loan repayment
 
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Nov 18, 2019
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My recommendation would be to combine STRAP and HPLR as the most efficient program for trainees. If you can wait till you are done and take the regular physician bonuses and HPLR, you will probably do best in terms of time commitment.

personally, the extra money in residency was a game changer for my family ($25,000 on top of my salary of 48,000 at the time). $25,000 per year on top of my current salary (between $300-400k) doesn’t change my life a whole bunch
So to my understanding, if I took HPLRP for a total of 3 years and decided to take STRAP for four years, would I commit a total of 7 years? I'm going to look up more info later when it comes to combining both programs but thanks for the info. My thought process was that the benefit with taking just 4 years of MDSSP was that the stipend would help pay for housing at least but with 8 years in return for service. Also, I have no idea what I would like to specialize in as that would ultimately come with the experience in medical school and I believe STRAP and HPLRP can only be applied to certain specialties. The confusing part is that on their website, they have a list of certain specialties that they are looking for but one of those is just physician. Again, thanks for the detailed info from you and el mero mero and I will definitely look into STRAP and HPLRP more!
 

USCguy

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I’ll try to clarify as I realize the minutiae is quite confusing; I can remember reading and re-reading the contract and informational sheets when I was signing them trying to make sure I understood what I was getting into.

you have to be in the strap program in order to utilize HPLR while in residency. Your first point of eligibility is the beginning of your third year. You elect to enter HPLR at the beginning of third year; then you get a check at the end of your third year for 40,000-tax witholding. you can continue in the HPLR program for the ensuing years of residency and after finishing residency until your loans are paid. Then you submit a memo saying you are entering strap payback and they start that clock.

also, you don’t have to start strap at the beginning of residency. I started half way thru internship incurring a 5 year payback (for 2.5 years of strap) instead of a 6 year payback (for 3 years).
 
Oct 12, 2020
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I’ll try to clarify as I realize the minutiae is quite confusing; I can remember reading and re-reading the contract and informational sheets when I was signing them trying to make sure I understood what I was getting into.

you have to be in the strap program in order to utilize HPLR while in residency. Your first point of eligibility is the beginning of your third year. You elect to enter HPLR at the beginning of third year; then you get a check at the end of your third year for 40,000-tax witholding. you can continue in the HPLR program for the ensuing years of residency and after finishing residency until your loans are paid. Then you submit a memo saying you are entering strap payback and they start that clock.

also, you don’t have to start strap at the beginning of residency. I started half way thru internship incurring a 5 year payback (for 2.5 years of strap) instead of a 6 year payback (for 3 years).

So, say I was in an EM residency, which is 4 years long. Can I take STRAP and HPLR at the same time during the 3rd and 4th year? 2 years of STRAP during which I'd take 2 years of HPLR, so that'd leave me at about 4 years drilling commitment after finishing up residency? Sorry if that was completely wrong, my recruiter offers me NO actual clarification with this stuff.
 
Sep 7, 2019
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Could I, hypothetically, join ARNG without accepting any incentives (e.g. STRAP, MDSSP), and if my state will pay for my tuition, I'd get out of residency with only 1-2 years of payback? Does anyone know if NY is one of these states? I'm in NY and this just seems too good to be true.

Jealous of you Jersey bastards lol

**And just to clarify, I want to serve no matter what but not having a contract looming over my head would be nice if things change in 8 years.
***Also, love you jersey folks, just joking :^)
 
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Jun 19, 2019
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Could I, hypothetically, join ARNG without accepting any incentives (e.g. STRAP, MDSSP), and if my state will pay for my tuition, I'd get out of residency with only 1-2 years of payback? Does anyone know if NY is one of these states? I'm in NY and this just seems too good to be true.

Jealous of you Jersey bastards lol

**And just to clarify, I want to serve no matter what but not having a contract looming over my head would be nice if things change in 8 years.
***Also, love you jersey folks, just joking :^)

Currently speaking to a recruiter and you can. You still commission under the MDSSP program but do not take the stipend incentive. This allows you to be non-deployable and you can choose to take the incentive later if you want.
 
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