How to Get Student Loan Forgiveness in Missouri
Updated: Oct 12
Missouri is home to some of the United States' largest public and private colleges and universities. With over 25 four-year colleges, led by Washington University in St. Louis and The University of Missouri, the state is home to some 200,000 college students, many of whom suffer from tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.
Luckily, the state has established a few student loan forgiveness programs for Missouri residents, on top of the federal student loan forgiveness programs offered by the federal government.
This article will cover:
Missouri student loan forgiveness programs
Federal student loan forgiveness for Missouri residents
Other student loan repayment strategies
And while getting student loan debt is no easy feat, it is worth the hassle. Here's a how to guide in getting student loan forgiveness in Missouri.
Missouri student loan forgiveness programs
At this time, the state has three main student loan forgiveness programs for certain residents to take advantage of. They are:
Missouri Health Professional State Loan Repayment Program
Health Professional Nursing Student Loan Program (NSL)
PRIMO Student Loan Program
Let's take a minute to introduce these programs one by one.
1. Health Professional State Loan Repayment Program
The first of the three state programs, the MO Health Professional State LRAP, was designed by the state to increase access to healthcare services in low-income and underserved areas. The program is for healthcare professionals that work as the following types of providers:
Licensed professional counselors
Licensed social workers
Primary care dentists and physicians
RNs and APRNs
These types of providers may be eligible to receive between $5,000-$25,000 per year in loan forgiveness per year depending on type of services provided. Those eligible to receive the maximum $25,000 per year are physicians and dentists, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists.
To be eligible, Missouri providers will need to submit an application and meet the following other requirements:
Serve in an area designated as rural, underserved, or a healthcare shortage area for a minimum of two years
Work full-time and provider a positive recommendation from your employer
Not be serving under any other service contract
Must accept and treat Medicaid patients with a sliding fee schedule that is publicly posted
Complete an annual report that proves they serve underserved populations
Additionally, primary care physicians and dentists must be willing and able to provide CHIP healthcare services (Children's Health Insurance Program) to children protected by Title XXI.
These requirements may seem like a lot, but if you are able to meet them, the financial rewards can be very lucrative.
2. Health Professional Nursing State Loan Program (NSL)
Missouri's Health Professional Nursing State Loan Program (NSL) is a program specifically designed for training the following types of future nurses:
Licensed Practical Nurses
Associate Degree in Nursing
Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing
Master of Science Degree in Nursing
NSL is reserved for those that are MO residents and are attending accredited colleges and universities. Essentially a financial aid program while attending college, graduates who then go on to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) become eligible to receive up $5,000 per calendar year in forgiveness.
Those pursuing an LPN are eligible for $2,500 per year.
More information on the program can be found through the Missouri Department of Health.
3. PRIMO Student Loan Program
The PRIMO Student Loan Program, short for Primary Care Resource Initiative for Missouri, is a program that helps provide funding for students training for healthcare licensure in the state of Missouri.
Open to aspiring physicians, dentists, dental hygienists, and psychiatrists, the PRIMO program provides loans between $3,000-$25,000 per academic year in assistance to pay for tuition and other fees. The actual amount depends on what field of study you have entered.
Once you graduate and become licensed, you'll be expected to complete a service obligation that will forgive these PRIMO loans. You'll be expected to complete one year of service per PRIMO loan that you accepted, up to a maximum of five years.
Your full-time service (at least 30 hours per week) will be completed in a certified health professional shortage area, similar to the programs offered by other states to help draw talented physicians to these underserved communities.
To be eligible for the PRIMO program, you'll need to meet the following requirements:
Be a Missouri resident
Be a full-time college student in a program that leads to a Bachelor of Science degree that leads to a Doctor of Dentistry, Allopathic, or Osteopathic Medicine, or a Doctor of Dentistry or program that leads to licensure as a dental hygienist
Other than that, you'll need to reapply for the program each year to continue to receive the service forgivable loans. Applying for the PRIMO program is not hard to do, and applications are accepted each year between January 1 and March 1.
Your MO PRIMO application will look something like this.
It is about three pages in length, and once you've completed it, you can submit it via the following channels:
Fax: (573) 522-8146
Mail: Attn: PRIMO Program, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Rural Health & Primary Care, PO Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0570
Federal student loan forgiveness programs for Missouri residents
Just because Missouri's state-based student loan forgiveness programs are all geared towards healthcare workers does not mean that you are out of luck on a federal level. In fact, as far as your options go, you'll likely want to consider:
Income-Driven Repayment: Income-driven repayment is open to any federal student loan borrowers that qualify based on their income and family size, and require you to make 20-25 years of reduced payments in order to qualify for any forgiveness. You'll be expected to make monthly payments worth between 10-20% of your monthly discretionary income, which will be calculated by a formula put out by the federal government. Currently, the four income-driven repayment programs are Income-Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment, Pay as You Earn, and Revised Pay as You Earn. However, there is a new program, Saving on a Valuable Education, launching in the Summer of 2023 that will replace the REPAYE program. All other plans will also begin to be phased out.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness: PSLF is a plan reserved for those working for the government and qualifying not for profits. It requires 120 qualifying payments to be made before forgiveness can be granted, and also requires you to be on one of the four income-driven repayment plans that we just mentioned. Missourians will need to work for an eligible not-for-profit or government employer to take part in the program.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF), as its' name denotes, is reserved for teachers, and may lead to $5,000 or $17,500 in student loan forgiveness, depending on the subject that you teach. To qualify, Missouri teachers will need to be fully licensed, have completed at least 5 full and consecutive academic school years, and teach at a Title I school.
Perkins Loan Cancellation: Perkins Loan Cancellation is a program reserved for those that still have outstanding Perkins Loans, a former type of federal loans that have not been disbursed since 2017. Qualifying Missouri borrowers will need to work in a qualifying job role or have eligible volunteer experience in order to receive 100% Perkins Loan Cancellation over a period of five years.
National Health Service Corps LRAP: Some Missouri primary care clinicians may qualify to have up to $100,000 in their student loans forgiven through one of 3 NHSC programs if they successfully complete a 2 or 3 year service commitment, depending on the program.
Missouri residents may opt to use any of these programs, depending on what they qualify for. For more information, navigate to the program's respective webpages using the links above.
Is student loan forgiveness taxable in Missouri?
Some forgiveness, like that granted through the income-driven repayment programs, may be taxed at the federal level through treatment as taxable income, though this is not currently the case.
But as soon as 2026, this could change, if the tax-free status of IDR is not extended by Congress.
Student loan forgiveness tips
We see our job as having two unique parts. First, we strive to inform you about the various programs across Missouri and the nation that you may qualify to use. And secondly, we want to provide you with some tips and tricks that you won't find anywhere else. Our recommendations in Missouri are as follows:
Do not just apply to the first program that you qualify for: You'll want to do plenty of research before you decide on a program, if you qualify for any. The last thing you want to do is participate in a program that offers you $10,000 in forgiveness, when another program could have provided you with far more repayment assistance with a lesser service requirement.
Do not refinance your debt until you know that it is advantageous for you: Typically, only federal student debt qualifies for the majority of federal and state forgiveness programs, and once you've refinanced your debt with a private lender, there is no "undoing" it.
Download our student loan calculator
If you're unsure which of these programs, if any, may be right for you, we highly recommend that you download our free student loan calculator. This tool will help you to gauge your:
For the following forgiveness and repayment strategies:
Pay as You Earn
Revised Pay as You Earn
Pairing you to a more advantageous repayment strategy can save you thousands of dollars!
Don't forget that you can refinance
If, for whatever reason, forgiveness just isn't in the cards for you, remember that refinancing your student loans is always an option that is available to you.
Student loan refinancing to a lower interest rate can help you lower your monthly payments, get out of debt years earlier, or potentially both.
We've written guides about many of the most popular refinancing companies but find that LendKey and Splash Financial are oftentimes great places to start, since you can check your rates without impacting your credit score.
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