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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

6 Options for Pennsylvania Student Loan Forgiveness

Updated: Nov 15, 2023


Student loan borrowers in Pennsylvania have not spared from the ongoing student debt crisis impacting Americans all over the country.


The average Pennsylvanian borrower now owes $42,243 in federal and private student debt. However, the state has set up a couple of programs designed to help attorneys and healthcare professionals.


These are in addition to a variety of federal forgiveness options.


Here are the 6 best options for student loan forgiveness in PA.



Pennsylvania student loan forgiveness


I mentioned that the state of Pennsylvania has two main forgiveness programs for those working in law or healthcare. These programs are:


  1. Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program (LRP)

  2. PA IOLTA Board Loan Repayment Assistance Program



1. Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program


Like other states in the country, Pennsylvania has had trouble maintaining adequate access to healthcare in underserved or rural locations.


Pennsylvania's Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program is a potential solution to this. Intended to attract and retain talented healthcare professionals across the state, the PA Primary Care LRP is available to:


  • Physicians

  • Dentists

  • Physician Assistants

  • Nurse Practitioners/CRNAs

  • Certified Nurse Midwifes

  • Registered Dental Hygienists

  • Psychologists

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers

  • Licensed Professional Counselors

  • Marriage and Family Therapists



Eligibility requirements


To be eligible for Pennsylvania's Primary Health Care LRP, borrowers will need to be fully licensed and certified to practice medicine in PA. Additionally, you must have graduated from an accredited college or university within the United States.


Providers who attended medical school or earned master's/professional degrees abroad will not qualify for this program.


You'll also need to complete a 2-year service requirement, where you'll:


  • Work at an approved site that provides care to underserved and underrepresented communities

  • At a site that provides healthcare services to at least 30% low-income patients


Additionally, the site of your service requirement must be located within a community designated as a qualifying health professional shortage area (HPSA).


Your service may be in a full-time or part-time capacity.



Forgiveness opportunity


Ultimately, the forgiveness that you receive depends on your job function and whether your service was in a full-time or part-time capacity.


Physicians, dentists, and psychologists can receive up to $80,000 if working full-time and $40,000 if working part-time. Other qualifying healthcare providers listed above may receive up to $48,000 for full-time work and $24,000 for part-time work.


It is worth mentioning that these amounts are dependent upon the level of funding allocated by the Pennsylvania state government.



Application process


To apply for the Pennsylvania Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program:


  1. Navigate to the PA Department of Health website, where you'll need to either create an account or login.

  2. Fill out the "PA Primary Care Loan Repayment Program" web-based application.



Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts Loan Repayment Assistance Program (PA IOLTA LRAP)


This second Pennsylvania student loan forgiveness program, funded by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, is reserved for employees of IOLTA funded organizations.


Intended to incentivize and attract attorneys to work in public service careers, the PA IOLTA LRAP is open to qualifying lawyers.



Eligibility requirements


You will not be eligible for this Pennsylvania student loan forgiveness program unless you're licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and permitted under Bar Admission Rule 31.


Other requirements to be eligible for forgiveness include:


  1. Possession of an active PA Supreme Court identification number

  2. Having a total gross salary below $75,000, unless the annual debt service of your loans is 10% or more of your annual gross salary.

  3. Your student loans are in an active repayment status.


The value of your outstanding student loan debt (federal and private) for all of your education also needs to be greater than the value of the program's grant offered.


Finally, you'll need to meet the program's service requirements. Commitments to participate in the PA IOLTA program occur in 12-month intervals. Program participants may participate for up to 10 years if they'd like to.


The state has also released a list of eligible PA IOLTA-funded organizations.



Forgiveness opportunity


Participants in the PA IOLTA program will receive some loan forgiveness each time they agree to a 12-month service requirement.


Originally issued to you in the form of a loan, the loan will be forgiven upon the completion of your year of service.


It's an unusual program in that the amount of money you'll receive isn't fixed.


Outside of funding challenges, the other main factor in determining how much financial help you'll receive is the amount of other program applicants in the forgiveness period. Once you receive confirmation that you qualify for the program, you'll receive quarterly distributions to use towards your outstanding student loans.


Keep in mind that any funds you receive must be used towards your outstanding undergraduate and law school loans. You can also use the program money for expenses related to studying/preparing for the bar exam.



Application process


Applying for the PA IOLTA Loan Repayment Assistance Program is also simple. Start by visiting the PA Bar Foundation's website.


From there, you'll be able to browse the quarterly disbursement dates, the application, and other frequently asked questions to help you submit your documentation seamlessly.



Federal student loan forgiveness in PA


Both of the programs introduced so far are unique state options available to residents of Pennsylvania. But most residents will also be eligible to participate in one of the federal government's student loan forgiveness programs, many of which are offered by the Department of Education.


Programs worth considering include:


  1. Income-Driven Repayment

  2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

  3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

  4. Perkins Loan Cancellation



1. Income-Driven Repayment


Income-driven repayment, and President Biden's SAVE plan in particular, may be appealing to federal borrowers with low incomes when compared to their household size.


Saving on a Valuable Education, the actual name of the program, will calculate your payments using the difference between 225% of the federal poverty line (for your household size and location) and your adjusted gross income. Take this amount and divide by 12, before taking 5% of the result to figure out what your estimated monthly payments will be.


Or just consult with our student loan calculator!


Either way, you'll be eligible for the rest of your debt to be forgiven after you make 10 years of reduced payments.



2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Pennsylvanians working in qualifying roles for the government or non-profits may be able to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.


Similar to the SAVE plan, you'll make ten years of reduced payments, on an income-driven repayment plan, before the remainder of your federal loan balance is forgiven!



3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness


Qualifying teachers across Pennsylvania may opt for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, which awards either $5,000 or $17,500 towards their student loan debt, depending on the subject taught.


STEM and special education related fields qualify for the higher forgiveness amount at this time. Eligible teachers will need to have taught five complete school years and meet a few other criteria.



4. Perkins Loan Cancellation


Borrowers with outstanding Perkins Loans, which were discontinued back in 2017, may be in luck, thanks to the Perkins Loan Cancellation program, which may forgive 100% of these loans over a five-year period.



Pennsylvania college grants


The easiest way to avoid becoming overwhelmed with student loan debt is to avoid taking debt on to begin with.


To help make paying for college more affordable, Pennsylvania also sponsors a handful of state grant programs for residents. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) are the following programs:


  1. Pennsylvania State Grant

  2. Blind or Deaf Higher Education Beneficiary Grant

  3. Chafee Education and Training Grant

  4. Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

  5. Partnerships for Access to Higher Education Grant (PATH)


Are you looking for more one-on-one guidance to handle your student loan situation? Book your own student loan consult now!




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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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