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National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan-repayment program

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by sarahkristy117, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. sarahkristy117

    2+ Year Member

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    Has anyone used this program or known anyone who has? I have looked up info on their website and it looks great but doesn't address how competitive the program is or how much you will receive in loan repayment. It says up to 50,000 for two years but does that mean you WILL get 50k or just up to it?

    Is this a reliable way to help out with loan repayment or something that only a select few are able to utilize?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. WannaBeDrMe

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    When I finished my MSW, I went through most of the application process but I never received a placement. I don't know if that's because it was very competitive or because I just wasn't a competitive applicant. I did the public health service corps??? Is that the same thing? I can't remember... did you have to become a uniformed officer to do it?

    If so, that's the one I did... basically, you agree to serve as a public health officer for the US and in turn, you get loan forgiveness and a salary and free continued education in your field. I was friends, at that time, with someone who had done it with his doctorate in public health and he walked me through the process... he said he was assigned to 3 different hospitals in one year following some bad hurricanes... his main job was just quick epidemiological stuff... I guess the loan cancellation was good b/c I remember thinking I wouldn't have to worry about my 30k anymore if I was accepted...

    Sorry, I wish I could be more helpful... good luck!!
     
  4. IT514

    IT514 Neuropsychologist
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    I'm a few years away from applying, but I am also interested in the NHSC program. From my understanding, the program is not very competitive for clinical psychologists as there were an abundance of unfilled positions due primarily to lack of applications. However, funding has also been an issue for the past few years for obvious reasons. The repayment for placements in an area with a HPS (health provider shortage) score of 14 or above (which means that very few if any providers are there) will get the full $25,000 per year in loan repayment, and if if the provider remains after two years the repayment is $35,000 per year or until the loan is payed off. If the HPS score is below 14, the amount will be less than the 25g (proportionally, I think, to the amount of need). Also, clinical psychologists must be licensed in the state they apply to participate in the program. I would go over the website thoroughly to see if I am misleading you...its been a few months since I've checked out the site. If you browse the site long enough, you can get a good idea of the application process and the overall pros and cons of the scholarship.

    I'm primarily interested b/c I want to work in a rural and underserved area (not really for the money if you can believe it), so its likely that I'll participate even if I dont get a placement with the full repayment amount.
     
  5. WannaBeDrMe

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    My state has a rural public service corps that's state reimbursement funded... maybe your state will as well!! Also, Perkins loans can be cancelled out through services in special needs areas without participation in any formal program. Finally, new legislation passed in ''07 pretty much adjusts loan repayment to income and as long as payments are made on time for 10 years, your debt after that point will be forgiven. Likely not applicable to you if you are going to be able to get 25k/year cancelled. Good luck, yay rural health!
     
  6. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    What IT said sounds familiar....as I looked into this last year. I know the "rating" of the placement effects funding and # of spots....though I don't remember solid figures for each level.
     
  7. sarahkristy117

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    So this program is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm worried, however, that if I'm licensed in NH or MA or VT (places of possible residency after school) and I don't get accepted or hired at the sites available there, will I be able to apply to other sites in other states? I guess I would have to become licensed in those states first but I wouldn't want to do that unless I knew for sure that the site had accepted me. Do you see the issue? Can you seek licensure after you've applied?

    Speaking of licensing, how long does this process take once you've accumulated your post-doc hours? Is it just a matter of taking the exam and/or oral exam or does it require a waiting period, etc? I haven't heard much about this process yet, probably because I haven't started my program yet. Sorry for my naivete.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  8. sarahkristy117

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    Is this just for federal loans? What legislation is this? How can I find out more information about this?
     
  9. WannaBeDrMe

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    Here ya go... I'm a bit of a policy nerd so I follow changes like some people follow baseball scores.

    There are, of course, different ways you can have your job classified as public service depending upon the geographic region in which you are serving and the SES of the population you primarily serve. A psychodynamic therapist in NYC is not going to qualify for this forgiveness... but pretty much any mental health practitioner serving underserved folks has a good shot at qualifying.

    http://www.finaid.org/loans/publicservice.phtml
     
  10. BellaPsyD

    BellaPsyD Correctional Psychologist
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  11. gocats

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    Just wanted to let everyone know how the process worked for me...

    I currently am in my second year of an NHSC loan repayment contract.

    I graduated with about 148 K debt from dental school.
    October 2006 I accepted a position at a public health clinic which pays me a reasonable salary (115K + benefits, vacation, CME, sick, etc.) The clinic is in a rural part of the state 45 minutes from a big city. It has a mid-range number for the HCPSA (12 or 14). The HCPSA stands for "health care professional shortage area" and determines the priority of a clinic to get funded. The bigger the number the greater the need.


    November 2006 I completed the NHSC LRP application and was notified July 14th 2007 that I was funded- my contract started July 16th,
    Two months later a big fat 50K lump sum was in my checking account. I applied all the money to the loan principle, and continued making monthly payments. (My student loan company AES allowed me to change my monthly payments from @695/ month to $365/ month-very nice!)

    The other dentist I work with also applied but did his paperwork incorrectly and no money was left to fund him by the time he got it fixed. You are in direct competition for funds with other people of the same job classification at the same site.

    I have reapplied for an amendment-this provides a third year of funding (35K). I was told I would likely hear back about two months before the current contract expires. Wish me luck.

    Overall I have been satisfied. Penalties are huge if you default on your commitment- according to the website you would payback NHSC $7500 for each month of service you skip out on, plus an additional $35000 punitive fee. I have always worried about my clinic going bankrupt, or some other job loss reason, and how that can impact my life... I would need to pay the money or move to another clinic with the same or worse HCPSA number.

    I have found some of the NHSC help desk staff to be confused, not really have answers, and give misinformation. Important paperwork will arrive late, or not at all. Emails are not really answered. You need to stay on top of things and remain proactive if you apply, and more importantly, stay proactive if you obtain funding. NHSC delegates some projects to a company called BLS Seamons. This company is inept! They “invited” me to mandatory NHSC LRP conferences out of state and only gave 14-19 days notice. Get real- in a busy clinic this is not enough time to clear the patient schedule, assistant schedules, to let a provider leave for a few days. 3 emails and 4 calls to BLS Seamons and no response- I can’t find out when the 2009 conferences are scheduled or what repercussions I will face for not attending.

    Overall I recommend the program. I have reservations about the penalties- during the tough economic times you never know how long a community health center can remain functional. It does keep me up at night, and it does make me feel "trapped" at times. The LRP worked better for me than the Scholarship program. The HCPSA #’s for that program require you to work at clinics with a greater need, further from any area that my husband could have a great job, and may require a blind assignment to a random clinic if you don’t match.

    The patients are very rewarding & interesting. I would work at my clinic for lots less money- but let’s keep that on the down low!

    Best wishes!
     
  12. psychmama

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    Gocats- thank you for this post. I found it very interesting and helpful, and I'm sure others did too!
    Best of luck to you.
     

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