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State Loan Repayment Program

State Loan Repayment Program
Section 3381 of the Public Health Service Act authorizes the Secretary to make grants to States to assist in the recruitment and retention of health professionals in federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSA). The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of primary health professionals in HPSAs through assistance to States to operate programs for the repayment of educational loans of health professionals in return for their practice in HPSAs.

The Bureau of Primary Health Care's State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is part of the overall strategy to improve access to primary and preventive health services for underserved communities and vulnerable populations.


<> > Provide a dollar-for-dollar match to States to assist in the repayment of educational loans of primary care health professionals who agree to practice in a public or nonprofit entity located in a federally designated HPSA.
  > Hold conferences, workgroups and committees on the SLRP to encourage collaboration between Federal and State partners to improve the program and discuss workforce issues in underserved communities.


The Division of Scholarships and Loan Repayments (DSLR) has increased participation in the SLRP to '16 states since its inception 9 years ago. Underserved communities have used the program to recruit and retain more than 1,200 health professionals, including primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists and mental health professionals.

Collaborative Linkages
The SLRP is a collaboration of Federal, State, and community resources and efforts. The Federal government provides up to 50 percent of the funds to make loan repayment awards to health professionals, and the remaining 50 percent comes from State and/or community resources. In addition, States provide all funds necessary to administer the program. Through conferences, committees and workgroups, State partners are involved in developing strategies to enhance the program to meet the changing needs of the health care environment in their state. The Federal field staff is instrumental in apprising communities and providers of the availability of the program, as well as bringing a regional perspective to SLRP activities.

Future Challenges
The SLRP has become an increasingly vital component in addressing the health care needs of underserved communities. Limited Federal funds cannot meet the increased demand for community-responsive, culturally competent primary care clinicians for these populations. Only through State and community linkages can we hope to address the issue of the shortage and maldistribution of health care professionals. The future of the SLRP will depend on the involvement of Federal, State, and community partners to: revise legislation, when necessary, to ensure that the program is effective in meeting its mission; to increase support for the program; and to develop strategies to ensure that participation in the program is a positive experience for both clinicians and communities. The DSLR will continue to work with the states through workgroups, committees, and conferences to address these challenges.