The most important piece of advice we can give about loan repayment?
Loan repayment should not be the only factor you consider when choosing a job (or profession!). Choosing a job based solely because loan repayment is offered (while ignoring other factors about the job) may lead to job dissatisfaction, and ultimately, the loan repayment you signed up for may result in financial penalties if you leave the job before your commitment is fulfilled.
Terms you need to know
You already have a job with an employer. You apply for ‘x’ amount of money to be given to you or are given a set amount of money toward your student loan debt in exchange for service. Example: you agree to work three years for a facility and will receive $40,000 a year for each of those years of service.
You may or may not have a job. You apply for money toward a medical education you’re already accepted to. This may or may not come with a contractual service (or other) obligation.
Health Professional Shortage Areas (HSPAs)
A federal designation of an area (eg. A county) ranking the need for/shortage of health professionals. Learn more about HPSAs with 3RNet’s HPSA guide.
Primary Care Office (PCO)
Where can you learn more about repayment programs in your state?
The federally designated person/office responsible for many tasks related to HPSAs and loan repayment programs. There is one PCO in every state; you can find a full list of PCOs here: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage/hpsas/primarycareoffices.html
If you know you’re interested in a specific program (ex: NHSC) contact the specific program.
Additional resources for physicians
Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)