Nebraska Loan Repayment Programs

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Community and Rural Health Planning
Public Health

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What you need to know


Temporary Guidelines for Nebraska Loan Repayment and Student Loan Forgiveness Participants

If you are directly affected by COVID-19, contact Rachael Wolfe to discuss your service obligation: (402) 471-0778 or

Loan repayment awards are available to primary care, mental, dental and allied health professionals practicing in shortage areas in Nebraska. View the eligible areas and facilities below.

How to Apply

There is one application for both of the state loan repayment programs. The individual seeking loan repayment must initiate the application. Once they complete and submit their portion, a notice will be sent to the entity providing the matching funds. The entity then completes the application. Applications will be deleted from the system if they remain incomplete after 90 days.

Shortage Area Maps 

Find your specialty and click on it to be taken to the map.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I determine if I am eligible?

Eligible specialties, areas, and facilities are viewable on our interactive maps, above. Find your specialty and click on it to be taken to a map. Please Note: Registered Nurses and State of Nebraska employees are not eligible for these programs.

Do I need to have an employer lined up before I apply for loan repayment?

Yes. While you 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. 

How soon can I apply?  Do I need to be fully licensed?

Up to 18 months before you are fully licensed and practicing in the shortage area. 

We recommend applying as soon as possible because funds are limited each fiscal year.  Health professionals are looking at a waiting period of up to 24 months from date of application. 

Please check with Office of Rural Health staff for an estimate of the current waiting period.

Who fills out the application?

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.

Once both portions have been filled out, the application is considered complete.

What's the maximum I can receive in loan repayment?

$180,000-$200,000 for doctors and dentists

$90,000 to $100,000 for other professions

What's the maximum the local entity will pay in matching funds?

$25,000-$30,000 per year for doctors and dentists

$12,500-$15,000 per year for other professions

Can I provide my own matching funds?

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 the employer.

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). 

Will my salary be adjusted as a result of receiving loan repayment?

Loan repayment is intended to be an additional incentive for you to practice in a rural or underserved area. Your salary should not be decreased as a result of receiving loan repayment.

How do I find a practice site?

The Office of Rural Health does not assist with recruitment or placements at specific sites. We recommend you work with your program to find an appropriate site, and direct you to the 3rnet website.

If you are from a shortage area, we recommend maintaining communication with potential employers about your desire to return and practice in your area, as well as your need for loan repayment assistance.

How are shortage areas determined?

The Rural Health Advisory Commission is responsible for identifying 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).

Shortage Area Guidelines

Can I apply if I'm not a resident of Nebraska or if I'm not a US citizen?

You don't need to be a resident of Nebraska to apply.  You do need to be a US citizen or National for the federally funded program.  You can be a legal resident and participate in the state funded program.

Which state program is best for me, State Loan Repayment or NHSC State Loan Repayment?

We will assess applications as they come in and let you know which program(s) you qualify for.

If you qualify for both programs, we'll lay out both offers for you.  While we generally send these offers with a recommendation, you will make the final decision.

Do you offer scholarships or a loan forgiveness program?

Not currently.  When the program started, only scholarships were available to students.  These scholarships shifted to a forgivable student loan program that included a practice obligation after graduation. Today, our office only accepts applications for the loan repayment programs.

Can I participate in multiple programs simultaneously?

No. The NHSC State Loan Repayment program can be done before or after the State Loan Repayment program, but you cannot participate in both simultaneously.

If you previously participated in Student Loan Forgiveness, you must complete that obligation before participating in one of the Loan Repayment Programs.

What type of loans qualify?

Government or commercial educational loans in the student's name. 

The following loans do not qualify specifically for NHSC State Loan Repayment:

  • Loans for which the applicant incurred a service obligation which will not be fulfilled before the anticipated start date of loan repayment. 
  • Loans for which the associated documentation cannot identify that the loan was solely applicable to the undergraduate or graduate education of the applicant.
  • Loans not obtained from a Government entity or private student loan lending institution. Most loans made by private foundations to individuals are not eligible for repayment.
  • Loans that have been repaid in full.
  • Primary Care Loans
  • Parent PLUS Loans (made to parents).
  • Personal lines of credit.
  • Loans subject to cancellation.
  • Residency loans.
  • Credit Card debt.

Can the health professional refinance their loans?

As long as they don't combine educational and non-educational loans, refinancing is fine. Keep in mind that the award amount will be limited by the total balance of the loans.

What is full time?

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.

Who receives the loan repayment funds? Do they go directly to the loan company or to the health professional?

Our office sends the funds directly to the health professional. They pay their loan company on a schedule that works best for their situation.  By contract, the health professional must send updated loan documentation to the Office of Rural Health annually.

How do payments work, and are loan repayment funds taxed as income?

The site providing the local match sends us their portion yearly.  We pay the health professional quarterly, in the month following each quarter. 

These funds are not taxable as income.

How long must the health professional stay in the shortage area?

Two to four years. The contract period is three years for one program, and two years with a possible two year extension for the other.

What if the health professional leaves the area before they have finished their loan repayment contract?

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.


Rachael Wolfe
Health Program Manager
Phone Number
(402) 471-0778

Learn about the Federal Loan Repayment Program