Loan Forgiveness

Harvard Medical School is committed to making a Harvard education more accessible through loan forgiveness programs. These programs provide debt relief for students who are planning to go into specific fields and/or public service. 

Loan Forgiveness Programs

HMS

HMS Public Service Initiative

The Harvard Medical School Financial Aid Office is pleased to continue a debt-relief scholarship program targeted to graduating HMS students who have an intention of pursuing careers in public service. The program, called the HMS Public Service Initiative, has been created as part of the graduate/professional Presidential Scholars financial aid initiative established by former President Lawrence H. Summers to make a Harvard education more accessible and affordable for talented students who wish to pursue careers in public service. The HMS Public Service Initiative is designed to relieve the loan obligation of selected graduating students of Harvard Medical School who meet the criteria listed below.

Eligibility for this program will include the following:

  • Demonstrated career path in public service/policy
  • Practice and/or research that promotes public health or health policy
  • Commitment to underserved communities (local or international)
  • International medicine (in resource poor settings)
  • Demonstrated commitment to medical education that promotes public service

Note: All students meeting the criteria of public service are encouraged to apply. However, priority will be given to students who have accumulated educational debt in excess of $100,000.

Priority for funding will be provided to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Entrance into a primary care field/concentration: family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine
  • Demonstrated commitment to community service
  • Demonstrated commitment to medical education that promotes community/public service
  • Substantial commitment to clinical care in future career goals

Applicants should explain their definition of public service in the Statement of Purpose, detailing how their past activities and future plans meet this definition of public service.

Application Process

HMS students will apply to this program in their graduating year. The application process includes a Statement of Purpose, providing citations of the student's prior commitment to public service, an explanation regarding how the student's intended residency program further enhances this pursuit, and a detailed description of the student's intended career path in public service. Three letters of recommendation, one being the academic Dean's letter and two being from people knowledgeable about the student's public service work, are required. An official HMS transcript and the student's Curriculum Vitae are also required.

Interested candidates may apply by completing the Public Service Initiative Application. Completed applications should be submitted directly to the HMS Financial Aid Office, Gordon Hall Rm. 211 or via email at financial_aid@hms.harvard.edu. The application deadline is April 9, 2021.

Selection Process

Selection of recipients will be based upon a combination of factors, including the students' letters of recommendation and demonstrated commitment to public service. Financial need is a significant factor in the selection process. Recipients are determined once confirmation is received regarding a student's match in a residency program.

Award amounts will be based upon a percentage of a recipient's total HMS educational debt. Amounts will depend upon number of recipients selected.

A condition of this award will include an update to the HMS Financial Aid Office upon completion of one's residency program detailing the intended career path of the recipient and describing how the Presidential Scholars Public Service Initiative impacted the recipient's pursuit of that career path.

HMS Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Program

The Harvard Medical School Financial Aid Office is pleased to announce a new debt-relief scholarship program targeted to graduating HMS students. This program is designed to reduce educational loan debt through loan forgiveness for students who will be joining a residency program in primary care.  The program was established by  Edward M. Scolnick, AB ’61, MD ’65 to relieve the loan obligation of selected graduating students of Harvard Medical School who meet the criteria listed below.

Eligibility for this program will include the following:

  • Graduating student matching in a residency program in primary care
  • Demonstrated academic excellence and commitment to the field of primary care

Note: All students meeting the criteria with educational debt in excess of $50,000 are encouraged to apply.  Priority will be given to students who have accumulated educational debt in excess of $100,000.

*Applicants should explain their definition of primary care in the Statement of Purpose, detailing how their past activities and future plans meet this definition of primary care.

Application Process

HMS students will apply to this program in their graduating year. The application process includes a Statement of Purpose, providing citations of the student's prior commitment to primary care, an explanation regarding how the student's intended residency program further enhances this pursuit, and a detailed description of the student's intended career path in primary care. Three letters of recommendation, one being the academic Dean's letter and two being from people knowledgeable about the student's primary care work, are required. An official HMS transcript and the student's Curriculum Vitae are also required.

Interested candidates may apply by completing the Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Application. Completed applications should be submitted directly to the HMS Financial Aid Office, Gordon Hall Rm. 211 or via email at financial_aid@hms.harvard.edu. The application deadline is April 9, 2021.

Selection Process

Selection of recipients will be based upon a combination of factors, including the students' letters of recommendation and demonstrated commitment to primary care. Financial need is a significant factor in the selection process. Recipients are determined once confirmation is received regarding a student's match in a residency program.

One student will receive an award of $50,000 in the form of loan forgiveness.  The remaining award amounts will vary depending on the recipient’s total HMS educational debt.  Amounts will depend upon number of recipients selected.

A condition of this award will include an update to the HMS Financial Aid Office upon completion of one's residency program detailing the intended career path of the recipient and describing how the Primary Care Loan Forgiveness Program impacted the recipient's pursuit of that career path.

Federal and State

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program through the federal government offers loan forgiveness for qualifying professionals with qualifying federal loans, who are working in public service careers. The balance that is forgiven is not taxable.

PSLF Basics

Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

The future availability of PSLF is uncertain. The program was created by Congress and Congress could change or end the PSLF program.

PSLF Qualifying Payments

  • After October 1, 2007
  • Under a qualifying repayment plan
  • For the full amount due as shown on your bill
  • No later than 15 days after your due date
  • While you are employed full-time by a qualifying employer

PSLF Qualifying Loans

Any nondefaulted Direct Loan is eligible for loan forgiveness.

The Direct Loan Program includes the following loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

The following loans may be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation loan to qualify for PSLF.

  • Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)
  • Perkins Loans
  • Health Professions Loans

PSLF Qualifying Repayment Plans

  • 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan
  • Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Income Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
  • Any other Direct Loan repayment plan as long as the monthly payment is equal or greater than the payment amount that wold have been required under the 10-year standard repayment

Income-driven repayment plans are most likely to yield a balance for forgiveness.

Qualifying Employer

Must be employed full-time or work multiple qualifying jobs that equal full-time in one of the following qualifying organizations. Full-time is the greater of your employers definition of full-time or at least 30 hours a week.

  • Government organizations at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal)
  • Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Other not-for-profit organizations providing specific qualifying services

Tracking PSLF Eligibility

You may track your progress towards making your 120 qualifying payments for PSLF by completing an Employment Certification For Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form. This form can be obtained through FedLoan Servicing, the federal loan servicer for PSLF.

National Health Service Corps

Primary care clinicians can get up to $50,000 to repay their student loans in exchange for a two-year commitment to work in an approved HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Areas) and with underserved communities. More information can be found on the National Health Service Corps website.

To learn more about the financial benefits of the NHSC program, please see the AAMC News & Insights Article.

National Institutes of Health

This program offers a set of eight loan repayment assistant programs established by Congress and designed to recruit qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. NIH will repay up to $35,000 annually of researchers’ qualified educational debt in return for a commitment to engage in NIH mission-relevant research. More information can be found online.

The Specialty Education Loan Repayment Program

The Specialty Education Loan Repayment Program (SELRP) provides financial assistance to physicians in the form of a loan repayment to recent graduates of an accredited medical or osteopathic school, and are currently enrolled or matched to a residency identified as a shortage by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The loan repayment is $40,000 a year with a maximum of $160,000. In return the recipient would agree to serve in a clinical practice at a VA facility for a period of 12 months for each $40,000 of loan repayment with a minimum of 24 months of obligated service.

Eligible Specialties:

  • Psychiatry
  • Family Practice
  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • Geriatric Medicine

For more information visit https://va-ams-info.intelliworxit.com/selrp/

Other Programs

There are also loan forgiveness opportunities through some state and federal loan programs. To learn more about these opportunities take a look at the AAMC's list of state and federal loan repayment and forgiveness programs.