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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

11 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs in Ohio

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Ohio is well known as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cedar Point Park, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Beyond those tourist destinations though, The Buckeye State is also famous for its undeniable Midwestern culture and low cost of living.

Due to these and more factors, Ohio is a popular place to live among millennials and others carrying student loan debt. Fortunately for these borrowers, Ohio has a bunch of programs available to help student loan borrowers earn some forgiveness.

Student loan debt in Ohio

As of April 2022, there are about 1.8 million outstanding student loan borrowers owing a cumulative $62.8 billion, according to Student Loan Hero. And while the average Ohioan owes about 10% less than national average, an average remaining balance of $32,972 is still burdensome.

Student loan forgiveness programs in Ohio

As of July 2022, there are about seven unique forgiveness programs available to Ohio residents, plus scholarship/grant programs, as well as a handful of federal student loan forgiveness programs.

In no particular order, these programs are:

  1. Ohio State Loan Repayment Program (LRAP)

  2. Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program

  3. Physician Student Loan Repayment Program

  4. John R. Justice Loan Repayment Program

  5. Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program

1. Ohio State Loan Repayment Program (LRAP)

Ohio's state LRAP is offered by the Ohio Department of Health and is available to medical providers offering primary care, dental, and behavioral health services. Much like other state-sponsored forgiveness programs, participants need to work in either a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Health Resource Shortage Area (HRSA).

The actual program itself requires a two-year upfront commitment, complete with a maximum repayment assistance of $50,000, if working full-time (part-time participants can earn $25,000).

At the end of your second year, you can opt to extend your service by another two years, funding dependent, to receive up to another $75,000 in aid. All in, a four-year commitment could earn you $120,000 in student loan forgiveness.

2. Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program

The Ohio Dentist LRAP, sponsored by the Ohio Dental Association, provides student debt assistance to dentists that meet the following qualifying guidelines:

  • Practice dental medicine in a designated dental shortage area (DHPSA or DHRSA)

  • Actively see and treat Medicaid patients

  • Provide care to patients regardless of financial status

Additionally, the program is flexible in career stage and accepts last year dental students and residents, in addition to practicing dentists.

The service commitment and maximum award amounts are the same as with the Ohio State Loan Repayment Program and require an upfront commitment of two years for up to $50,000 in forgiveness, with the addition to add on two more years for up to another $70,000 in forgiveness.

3. Physician Loan Repayment Program (LRAP)

Primary care physicians (PCPs) that practice in HPSAs or HRSAs within Ohio may be eligible for the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program if they practice in the following specialties:

  1. Family medicine

  2. General pediatrics

  3. Adolescent medicine

  4. Internal medicine

  5. Pediatrics

  6. Geriatrics

  7. Gynecology

  8. Psychiatry

Program guidelines stipulate that applicants should be in the final year of their residency or fellowship at time of application, and that qualifying program employment must be completed at an approved practice site.

The base service requirement is for two years, and full-time work will earn you up to $25,000 in annual student loan assistance. Like the last two programs, there is an option to complete a third and fourth year at $35,000 per year.

4. John R. Justice Repayment Program

Ohio's John R. Justice program aims to lessen the financial burdens of student debt to lawyers in prosecutor or public defender roles (federal or state). To be eligible for loan assistance, you'll need to:

  • Agree to a three year service commitment, during which time you will remain in a qualifying prosecutor/public defender role

  • Be fully licensed to practice law in Ohio

  • Not have any federal student loan delinquencies or defaults

Do keep in mind that the John R. Justice program is only an option for your qualifying federal student loans - Parent PLUS and private student debt are not eligible for assistance under the program.

The really interesting part of this program is that there are not any forgiveness guidelines issued. Each application is handled on a case-by-case basis after the state is granted an annual sum of money to distribute through the program.

5. Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP)

Ohio nursing students that are enrolled at least half time are eligible to receive loans to help finance their education through the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP). These loans, which are cancelled annually after graduation, are awarded to those studying to serve as Registered Nurses (RNs) and nursing instructors.

There are no established loan award amounts - decisions are handled annually based on how many applicants are accepted, as well as how much funding the program receives.

Loan cancellation is awarded to those that work full-time in Ohio for a minimum of five years after graduation. To help the state keep track of your years of service, you'll need to submit a certification form each year.

Ohio National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Programs

In addition to the programs that we've already covered, the National Health Service Corps offers two more assistance programs to those within Ohio.

1. NHSC Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Offering up to $50,000 in repayment over two years, clinicians working within HPSAs in Ohio may be eligible to make a dent in their student debt in exchange for serving a community in need.

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program also offers continuation contracts, making it possible that you may be able to get rid of all your debt via this program.

Those that participate in the program on a part-time basis may be able to clear $25,000 in debt over the first two years.

2. Ohio's Students to Service Program

The Students to Service program is an option for those in their last year of medical, nursing, or dental school, offering student loan repayment assistance in exchange for at least three years of service at an NHSC-approved site within an Ohio HPSA. This is key - you'll need to apply for entry into this program when you are still a student.

Offering up to $120,000 in assistance over four years, you'll need to meet the program's various requirements, including working full-time in clinical practice for the duration of your contract.

At the end of your third year, you do have the option to apply for a one-year continuation contract, but acceptance into this is not guaranteed.

Federal loan forgiveness programs for Ohioans

Residents in Ohio also have access to the full slate of the Department of Education's federal forgiveness programs, if eligible. At this time, the main programs that you should be aware of are:

  1. Income-Driven Repayment

  2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

  3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

  4. Perkins Loan Cancellation

1. Income-Driven Repayment

Ohioans with federal loans may opt to use one of the following IDR plans to get closer to forgiveness:

These four programs aim to lower your monthly payments by taking into account your income and household size. They'll extend your repayment term from ten years to twenty or twenty-five years, depending on the program. But once these years are up, your remaining balance is forgiven by the Department of Education.

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The most lucrative federal student loan forgiveness program, PSLF is an option for those working for the government or qualifying non-profits. Generally, PSLF works like this:

  • You'll make 120 monthly payments on a qualifying repayment plans (there are four - Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay as You Earn, and Revised Pay as You Earn)

  • After making these payments, you'll become eligible to have your remaining student loan balance forgiven.

PSLF is only an option for you if you have federal student loan debt, and more specifically, Federal Direct Loans.

3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Many teachers statewide will also qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness if they meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Teaching in a low-income school

  • Teaching five consecutive and complete school years

  • Having loans that are part of the Federal Direct Loan program

In return for your service, the TLF program will reward you with either $5,000 or $17,500 in forgiveness, depending on the subject you teach.

4. Perkins Loan Cancellation

Ohio borrowers with outstanding Federal Perkins Loans should not skip out on Perkins Loan Cancellation, if eligible.

Available to those working in law enforcement, education, and more careers, you may be eligible to have the entirety of your Perkins Loan balance wiped out over the span of five years.

The program will forgive the following percentage of your Perkins loans per year (including interest that accrues over the course of the year):

  • 15% after the first and second year

  • 20% after the third and fourth year

  • 30% after the fifth year

Other ways to lower your student loan debt in Ohio

No matter how we look at it, there will be thousands of Ohioans that do not qualify for any of the eleven programs that we've outlined here. And that's okay, because truthfully, some people that qualify for some of these programs may be better off using other repayment strategies anyway.

Usually, these programs don't work for Ohioans for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. You don't qualify based on your income

  2. You have private or Parent PLUS loans that aren't accepted by a program you'd otherwise qualify for

  3. You work in a field without meaningful forgiveness programs

If these parameters describe you, your best option may be to refinance your debt.

Refinancing student loans in Ohio

Refinancing your student loans is a decision that may take some time for you to assess. But it is one that carries a few potential benefits:

  • You may be able to achieve a lower interest rate

  • You may be able to reduce your payments

  • You may get out of debt faster

And depending on what interest rate you are able to get, it may be possible to achieve all three. We hear from Ohioans regularly wondering how to start the process, and our answer is usually the same. Start by getting an interest rate from Splash Financial or LendKey, since both lenders are actually marketplaces that will compare prospective interest rates for you across many different lenders.

The process with each only takes about two minutes, and does not impact your credit until after a hard credit pull is conducted (after you accept the terms of your new loan).

Student loan forgiveness in nearby states

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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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