A Guide to Student Loans for Health Professions

Student loans for health professionals are a boon to financially needy students to pursue their degrees. Many students ambitious to become health professionals are daunted by rising college costs and wonder whether they can fulfill their dreams. Luckily for them, there are various federal and private loans available to help them complete their studies. These loans, which have varying eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, offer low interest rates and flexible repayment terms. The loan programs are provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) 

This is a federal loan program offering loans with very low interest rates, and it is administered by the college or university where the student is pursuing a degree. The interest is subsidized during the school term, and the grace period and the repayment time is about 120 months.

The Primary Care Loan (PCL)

This provides long-term aid at more advantageous terms than all the other loans. Under this plan, the student has to enter a residency training program in one of the primary health care fields upon completion of his or her studies.

The Nursing Student Loan (NSL)

Financially needy students studying towards a graduate degree, a baccalaureate or an associate degree or a diploma in nursing are eligible for the NSL.

The Loan for Disadvantaged Students (LDS)

Through this program, students with disadvantaged backgrounds as per the HHS and who are eligible for the HPSL, PCL or NSL programs can get loans.

There are rules and regulations for all the above loan plans that must be strictly followed. The applicants themselves must meet certain requirements, such as being enrolled in certain medical disciplines, and their college or university must be among those deemed eligible. Dependent students are required to report parental data on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Documents like promissory notes and disclosure forms are duly to be filled out, and an exit interview is mandatory.

The U.S. Department of Education's Direct Loan Program can be explored via the Internet by students and parents for information about the Direct Loan Program.

The FFEL Program is a loan program that includes the following four loans: Stafford Loans, Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal PLUS Loans and Federal Consolidation Loans. These are available with federal as well as private loan options like Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, CitiAssist® Health Professions Loans, CitiAssist® Residency, Relocation and Review Loans. Medical School Loans, Medical Student Aid and Gradloans.com are a few premier loan providers also with federal as well as private loan schemes, consolidation, residency loans and board exam loans. Loans like Stafford loans are the most commonly chosen schemes to pay for medical school at very low costs. Another such loan is the federal Perkins loan program, which offers a low interest rate to help needy students in their post-secondary studies.

It is best to explore all opportunities for federal student loans by completing and submitting the FAFSA to avail any eligible federal loan first before venturing out to seek private loans, as they have higher interest rates, often requiring payments when in school and tighter repayment options as well more fees.

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