Mental health professionals working at least fifty percent of the time with members of the community supervision population can now qualify to have their entire student loan balance repaid over a service period of five years. Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychiatric NPs or PAs, and Licensed Mental Health Professionals would all qualify, if working with that specific population and located in a state shortage area specific to their discipline and specialty. Please note: State employees do not qualify, and local match from a non-state source is required.
Eligible disciplines, specialties, areas, and facilities are viewable on our interactive maps. Find the applicable discipline or specialty, and click on it to be taken to the map
Doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants should view the map associated with the specialty they are trained in and currently practicing (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics, OB GYN, General Surgery, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, or General Psychiatry). Certain subspecialties under Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, or Psychiatry can qualify. Practitioners of subspecialties should confirm with the Office of Rural Health before filling out the application.
Dentists should view the map associated with the specialty they are trained in and currently practicing (General Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, or Oral Surgery).
Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) should use the Licensed Mental Health Practitioner map to assess eligibility.
Other providers (BSN registered nurses, dental hygienists, clinical psychologists, licensed mental health practitioners, MS alcohol and drug counselors/licensed clinical social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, or physical therapists) are generally listed by profession.
Any facility located in a blue or yellow county will qualify for the state funded program. Federally funded programs are more site-specific, so the provider needs to be at a site that qualifies – either a public or nonprofit site located in a federal shortage area (yellow or pink counties), or a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) designated site. All NHSC sites are mapped, with more information available when you hover above or click on the dot. Some of these NHSC sites qualify for the state program as well, even if not located in a county-level state shortage area.
You are welcome to contact the Office of Rural Health with any questions about eligibility.
Please Note: State of Nebraska employees are not eligible for these programs.
Yes. While they don't need to be officially employed before applying, the employer will fill out the second half of the application and provides half of the funds.
They can apply up to 18 months before they are fully licensed and practicing in the shortage area. They must be fully licensed and finished with residency by the start date of the loan repayment contract.
The application is initiated by the health professional.
Once they complete their portion, the employer (or local entity providing matching funds) receives a link to fill out the second half of the application.
If an application remains incomplete after 90 days, it may be rejected or removed from the system.
You will receive an email from the Office of Rural health once the application has been received and reviewed by them. This initial email is not a guarantee of funding.
Applications go to the
Rural Health Advisory Commission for final approval at the next quarterly meeting of that body. Official notices of award are sent afterwards.
$180,000-$200,000 for doctors and dentists
Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program - $60,000 per year for three years
NHSC Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program - $50,000 per year for two to four years
$90,000 to $100,000 for other professions
Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program - $30,000 per year for three years
NHSC Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program - $25,000 per year for two to four years
$25,000-$30,000 per year for doctors and dentists
$12,500-$15,000 per year for other professions
No – the program is intended as a partnership between the state and the local community to recruit and retain health professionals. Funds must be provided by a local entity within the designated health profession shortage area.
If you are self-employed or your employer is unable to provide the match, another local entity can provide these funds (a community foundation, a local hospital, etc). If you are self employed, another local entity will also need to agree to verify work on a quarterly basis.
The Office of Rural Health does not assist with recruitment or placements at specific sites. We recommend health professionals work with their program to find an appropriate site, and also direct you to the 3rnet website.
If a health professional is from a shortage area and desires to return, we recommend maintaining communication with potential employers about this desire to return and practice in the area, as well as the need for loan repayment assistance.
The Rural Health Advisory Commission is responsible for identifying state shortage areas for purposes of the Nebraska Rural Health Systems and Professional Incentive Act. Every 3 years a statewide review of all state-designated shortage areas is completed. The data comes from UNMC's Health Professions Tracking Service (HPTS).
If an area is believed to have become a shortage area in the interim, a request for re-assessment can be sent to the Office of Rural Health.
State Shortage Area Guidelines
Please Note: For certain specialties, areas within a 25-50 mile radius of Lincoln and Omaha will not be designated. See State Shortage Area Guidelines for more details.
Federal shortage areas are based on a federal application and approval process, and are also subject to change. Federal areas are marked on our maps and updated quarterly, but you may visit https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/hpsa-find to verify the federal designation status of your site or county. Sites can find more information about the NHSC site application process here https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/sites/how-to-apply.
We assess applications as they come in and let the health professional and site know which program(s) they qualify for.
The health professional will make the final decision (in communication with their site and the Office of Rural Health).
No. The NHSC State Loan Repayment program can be done before or after the State Loan Repayment program, but you cannot participate in both programs simultaneously.
If you previously participated in Student Loan Forgiveness, you must complete that obligation before participating in one of the Loan Repayment Programs.
Please let the Office of Rural Health know of any other programs for which you may have an obligation, as this could affect which program we recommend.
Government or commercial educational loans in the student's name.
The following loans do not qualify specifically for NHSC State Loan Repayment:
Full time is a minimum of 40 hours per week. The Commission has further defined this as at least 32 hours of scheduled patient time per week, plus other duties. Part time work may qualify you for partial loan repayment. Part time is defined as a minimum of 20 hours per week.
Alternate schedules may be allowable with approval by the Commission. Please email the Office of Rural Health to notify them of details of any alternate schedule after submitting an application.
These funds are not taxable as income (Public Law 111-148, Section 10908, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
Two to four years. The contract period is three years for for the state funded program, and two years with a possible 1-2 year extension for the NHSC Nebraska State Loan Repayment Program.
Extended periods of leave (due to illness, maternity leave, etc.) are generally allowable with a contract amendment extending the obligation for an amount of time equal to the period of leave. Please contact the Office of Rural Health as soon as you are aware of the need for an extended period of leave to verify eligibility.
If you have participated in the State program for less than the maximum amount allowed by statute ($90,000 total for midlevel providers, or $180,000 total for doctorate level providers over three years), you can participate another time and qualify for the remaining amount until that maximum is reached. You would need to submit a fresh application and specify that you participated previously and the total amount received.
You may also participate in the Nebraska NHSC SLRP (federally funded) after participating in the State program, or vice versa. If you are at a site that qualifies for both programs and you plan to participate in one program after the other, you should submit a new application no sooner than 18 months from your current loan repayment completion date. Please specify which program you are currently participating in, and that you would like to participate in the other. You may use the section that asks why you wish to work and live in the area. Contact our office with any questions.
If this is due to the health professional's permanent disability, they must provide documentation to the Office of Rural Health and are then released from their obligation.
Otherwise, the health professional must find a successor local entity or pay back all funds received plus a penalty and interest.