Guidelines for the Minnesota Dentist Loan Forgiveness Program
The purpose of Minnesota’s Loan Forgiveness program is to recruit and retain health care professionals to needed areas and facilities in Minnesota. Loan forgiveness is an important benefit for health care professionals as well as health care facilities and communities experiencing a shortage of access to primary health care services.
Program Administration and Funding
The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC), Minnesota Department of Health administers this program. It is funded by the State of Minnesota. Program eligibility requirements and benefits are established by state statute, 144.1501 authorizing the health professional education loan forgiveness program.
To be eligible, a prospective participant must submit an application to the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC), during the application cycle of September 1 - January 2, while completing their final year of dental school or residency training. The application scoring and selection of participants will occur in February-March. All applicants will be notified in April if they have or have not been selected.
Although licensed dentists who are seeing 25 percent public program patients are eligible to apply, students and residents in their final year of training receive highest preference. Due to the high number of final year student applications and the constraints of limited funding, we do not encourage licensed dentists to apply.
The Dentist Loan Forgiveness Program provides funds for repayment of qualified educational loans for dentists. Applicants are responsible for securing their own educational loans. Credit card loans or loans from family members do not qualify. Qualified loans include government, commercial and foundation loans for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education and living expenses related to the graduate or undergraduate education of a health care professional.
This is a competitive selection process. Selections are made based on suitability for practice as indicated by personal and professional experience and training noted on an application, as well as other relevant factors. The number of applicants ORHPC may select for participation varies annually and is contingent upon state funding available.
Service Obligation and Funding
Participants must plan to practice for at least 30 hours per week, for at least 45 weeks per year, for a minimum of three years and at least 25 percent of their annual patient encounters must include patients enrolled in state public programs or receiving a sliding fee.
Participants must begin their service obligation under this program no later than March 31 following completion of their dental program. Participants must complete their dental program as originally stated in their application.
Participants are eligible to participate for up to four years in the program. At least 25 percent of their annual patient encounters must include patients enrolled in state public programs or receiving a sliding fee. Subject to the availability of funds appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature for the loan forgiveness program, ORHPC will make an annual payment to the participant in the amount of up to $25,000, not to exceed $100,000, total for the maximum four-year period or the balance of the designated loan(s), whichever is less.
Annually, ORHPC requires participants to verify their continued employment and submit documentation that they have applied the loan forgiveness funds to their designated educational loan(s). This information will be verified prior to each annual disbursement. It is at the discretion of the participant to pay their loan servicer(s) with an annual lump sum payment, or make monthly payments that total the annual disbursement from ORHPC.
Income Tax Reporting
Loan forgiveness payments made to participants under the loan forgiveness program are considered exempt from state and federal income taxes beginning after December 31, 2008.
Temporary Suspension of Service
Service obligations may be suspended as a result of an illness, disability or temporary job transfer lasting less than a total of 12 months during a three- or four-year commitment. All requests for temporary suspension of service must be in writing in advance (if known) and substantiated by documentation deemed acceptable and approved by the state on a case-by-case basis. The agreement end date will be extended by the amount of time a participant is in suspension status. Suspensions cannot exceed 12 months.
Penalty for Non-fulfillment
If a participant does not fulfill the minimum obligation of three years of practice with at least 25 percent of their annual patient encounters being patients enrolled in state public programs or receiving a sliding fee in Minnesota, the participant will be required to repay the total amount ORHPC paid, plus interest, at a rate established according to Minnesota Statutes 270C.40.
For application materials, see the main Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs page.