Nebraska Loan Repayment Programs

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Community and Rural Health Planning
Public Health

What would you like to do?

What you need to know

Loan repayment awards are available to primary care, mental, dental and allied health professionals practicing in shortage areas in Nebraska. Funding has been increased for fiscal years 21-22 and 22-23 and there is no longer a waiting list. 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 a site or health professional is eligible to participate in the programs?

Eligible specialties, areas, and facilities are viewable on our interactive maps, above.

Find the applicable specialty and click on it to be taken to a map.  Generally, a site will qualify if located in a county designated as a shortage area.  A sliding fee scale and/or NHSC site designation may be required for federal shortage areas, and you may contact the Office of Rural Health with any questions.

Please Note: Registered Nurses and State of Nebraska employees are not eligible for these programs.

Do health professionals need to have an employer lined up before applying for loan repayment?

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.

Does the health professional need to be fully licensed to fill out an application?

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.

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. If one portion remains incomplete after 90 days, the application is removed from the system.

What's the maximum a recipient 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 a health professional provide their 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). At this time, the Office of Rural Health does not have resources to assist with matching funds.

Will the health professional's salary be adjusted as a result of receiving loan repayment?

Loan repayment is intended to be an additional incentive for health professionals who practice in a rural or underserved area. Their 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 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.

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).

If a site 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. 

Shortage Area Guidelines

Can one apply if not a resident of Nebraska or if not a US citizen?

It is not required that applicants be a resident of Nebraska. They can be a legal resident of the US and participate in the state funded program. They do need to be a US citizen or National to participate in the federally funded program.

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

We assess applications as they come in and let the health professional and site know which program(s) they qualify for.

If someone qualifies for both programs, we lay out both offers.  While we generally send these offers with a recommendation, the health professional will make the final decision (in communication with their site).

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 one 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 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.

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 aren't combining 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 as of the loan repayment contract start date.

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.

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.

Is ER time allowed under the program? What about time spent on call?

The Rural Health Advisory Commission determined in 2019 that ER time would be allowable for State Loan Repayment Recipients.  Up to 50% telehealth is allowable for the State Program as well, provided all other requirements are met. The NHSC State Loan Repayment Program (and other federal programs) do not allow ER time or Telehealth to be counted.  Call time is not counted as part of the calculation of hours worked.

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 the Office of Rural Health 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 1-2 year extension for the other.

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.

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