Minnesota Rural Physician Loan Forgiveness Guidelines
The purpose of Minnesota’s Health Care 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.
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 Minnesota statute 144.1501, authorizing the health professional loan forgiveness program.
This program is offered to primary care professions, which includes Family Practice, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Psychiatry who plan to practice/are practicing in a designated rural area. A prospective participant must submit an application to ORHPC during the open application cycle, as a practicing physician or while completing their final year of medical residency training.
The Rural Physician Loan Forgiveness Program provides funds for repayment of Qualified Educational Loans. Qualified Educational Loans include government, commercial, and foundation loans for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education and living expenses related to the past graduate or undergraduate education of the Physician. Credit card debt or loans from family members do not qualify. Parent PLUS loans do not qualify.
Loans in current or active default are NOT eligible for forgiveness in this program, even if considered in good standing with the collections agency. Previously defaulted loans that have since been completely rehabilitated and are not currently in active default status are eligible.
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 preference given to those closest to completing their training. Preference will be given to applicants who document diverse cultural competencies. The number of applicants ORHPC may select for participation varies annually and is contingent upon state funding.
Participants are required to practice for at least 30 hours per week, for at least 45 weeks per year, for a minimum of three years in a designated rural area. A designated rural area is defined by Minnesota statute 144.1501 as a statutory and home rule charter city or township that is (1) outside the seven–county metropolitan area, as defined in section 473.121, subdivision 2 excluding the cities of Duluth, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester and St. Cloud.
Selected participants shall provide direct patient care hours/client–centered services. Hours cannot be fulfilled meeting with providers, process improvement, policy development, supervising, or administering programs.
For practicing physicians, participants must begin their service immediately. For final year residents, participants must begin their service obligation under this program no later than March 31 following selection. Participants must complete their residency program as originally stated in their application. Participants are eligible to participate for up to four years in the program as a physician in a designated rural area. ORHPC will make an annual payment to the participant in the amount of up to $33,000, not to exceed $132,000 total for the maximum four–year period or the balance of the designated loan(s), whichever is less subject to the availability of funds appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature for the loan forgiveness program.