Ultimate Guide to Student Loan Repayment and Forgiveness for Physician Assistants

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physician assistant loan repayment

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If you’re a physician assistant, you know that getting to this place in your career was an expensive journey. Between the graduate degree requirements and time-intensive studying and certifications processes, it was probably difficult to get ahead financially.

So if you went into this field to help others, shouldn’t you get some help, too?

Of course! That’s why there are physician assistant loan repayment programs available to you. Below is a comprehensive list of these programs and how you can use them to get a break on your student loan debt repayment.

National loan repayment and forgiveness options for physician assistants

There are many federal and national programs that can help you get out of student loan debt faster. Check out these student loan forgiveness and repayment assistance options you might qualify for.


AmeriCorps is a government organization that offers a variety of ways for you to receive work in your field, give back, and earn repayment assistance for your loans.

As defined on its website, “AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects over 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, health, and homeland security.”

As for opportunities, they run abound with, “more than 2,000 non-profits, public agencies, and community organizations” served by its members.

If you join AmeriCorps, you would typically serve for one year and then receive up to $4,725 to pay back qualified student loans. Work done during your time with AmeriCorps can also be considered qualifying employment for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (more on that below).

Commissioned Corp of the U.S. Health Service

If you’re an allied clinical care provider in the Commissioned Corp, you may be eligible for student loan repayment. For example, under this program and depending on where you work, you could qualify for The Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program. And if you haven’t completed your education yet, you may even have access to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Health Professions Loan Repayment and other military repayment opportunities

Many of those serving in the military can take advantage of loan repayment through The Health Professions Loan Repayment program and other military loan repayment opportunities. Student loan repayment for physicians assistants is available to members of the Army, National Guard, and Navy.

The Army awards active duty physician assistants up to $40,000 per year for three years (maximum of $120,000) on qualifying student loans through the Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program.

In the National Guard, physicians assistants are eligible for up to $25,000 in student loan repayments per year with a $75,000-lifetime cap. The National Guard also offers bonuses of anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on how long of a contract you sign.

Active duty members of the Navy must be willing to serve for three years to receive student loan repayment. There’s a maximum annual repayment of $40,000.

IHS Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program is available to health professionals who agree to, “an initial two-year service commitment to practice in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”

You can receive up to $40,000 in eligible loan repayment for those two years, and you can extend your contract until your debt is paid off.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you have federal student loans and struggle to afford your payments, you can take advantage of income-driven repayment plans to catch a break in your monthly budget. There are several different income-driven repayment plans to choose from:

These repayment plans won’t help you get out of student loan debt faster. What they will do is enable you to have your monthly payments lowered to a percentage of your income. That means a little bit more breathing room for you financially.

After making consecutive payments over 20-25 years, depending on the specific program, you can also apply to have the remainder of your debt forgiven (if you have any left). Keep in mind that the discharged amount will be taxed as income; the laws on taxing forgiven student loan could change in the future, however, so that’s something to keep an eye on regularly.

It’s important to note that you’ll have to reapply for your chosen income-driven repayment plan each year – it doesn’t automatically renew.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC)

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) awards up to $50,000 – tax-free – in student loan repayment for a two-year commitment at an approved site. Like the IHS Loan Repayment Program, you can serve additional terms beyond you first two years to earn more for your student loan repayment.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

This program is available to more professions than only physician assistants. Based on where you work, you can potentially qualify for this national program.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers student loan forgiveness for those who work full-time in governmental organizations, 501(c)(3) not-for-profits, and other types of public service organizations. To qualify, you must first consolidate your federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan if they are not already part of the Direct Loan program. Then you have to make 120 qualifying payments (beginning October 2017 or later), after which you can apply for forgiveness.

Now is a good time to mention that many of these programs are subject to change at any time. PSLF, for example, has recently come under fire as workers are finding that their approvals can be reversed even years after making qualifying payments. The verdict is still out on what will come of this recent development, but as of now, the program remains intact.

Refinancing and consolidation

Two more ways to modify your student loans are private student loan refinancing or federal consolidation.

Refinancing your student loans is the act of paying off your federal and/or private loans with a new private loan, ideally at a lower interest rate. You can choose which of your loans you want to consolidate and refinance.

Consolidation is something available to federal loans and enables you to combine all your loans into one loan with one monthly payment and a weighted interest rate.

There are two major benefits of refinancing: 1) A lower interest rate can help you pay the debt off faster and save money on interest if you choose a shorter repayment term, and 2) Selecting a longer repayment term can help you decrease your monthly payment and open up monthly cash flow. This option probably won’t save any money in the long run. It’s up to you to decide which benefit you need the most.

It’s important to note the potential downside to refinancing. If you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, they become private loans and you lose out on access to federal protections such as federal deferment, forbearance, and forgiveness options. You also lose access to income-driven repayment plans.

As for consolidation, it’s available through something called a Direct Consolidation Loan. The main benefit of this loan is the ability to simplify your monthly student loan repayment to one servicer and one payment. This type of loan also enables you to use other federal repayment plans and forgiveness programs, such as PSLF and most of the income-driven repayment plans. However, it does not result in a lower interest rate or savings on your debt.

State-based physician assistant loan repayment programs

Believe it or not, various state-specific programs can help you pay off your loans.

There are a few different ways you can see what kind of loan repayment physician assistant programs might be available in your state. The State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is a great place to start. And you can find more information on what’s available in your state with the SLRP contacts list and this database run by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

And some of these programs are even more location-specific, with programs that offer support for those working in rural areas.

The Rural Health Information Hub has a comprehensive list of rural repayment programs. One example of these programs is the Massachusetts Community Health Center Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program.

With this program, you can be eligible for up to $30,000 in repayment assistance. You have to work in a Massachusetts health center within six months of applying or be employed at one with a tenure of three years or less.

If you don’t see a state loan repayment program that applies to you, consider contacting your alma mater. They might have more resources to help you find repayment assistance.

Scholarships and grants if you’re still in school

Are you not yet a practicing physician assistant, but interested in keeping your educational costs down? Great! You should always be on the lookout for new scholarships and grants as they apply to your field of study.

Look for scholarships specific to your state, your city or county, and even your school. You might be surprised by just how many scholarships there are for your field of study.

To give you a good head start, here’s a list of scholarships and grants that are available now.

The cost of becoming a physician assistant

By now you’ve probably realized that the costsof becoming a physician assistant is a bit of a double-edged sword. It’ll take a lot out of your pocket now, but the pay could be worth it later.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly pay for a physician assistant in 2016 was $101,480. That’s $48.79 per hour. Even better, the BLS expects the job outlook from 2014-2024 to grow “much faster than average” at 30 percent.

But how much does it cost to make that happen? Total cost varies depending on your school, but with the master’s degree requirement, it’s not easy to come out unscathed by student loan debt.

In 2016, The Physician Assistant Education Association released a 2015 matriculating student survey. One of the questions in the survey was, “What do you anticipate your total debt (excluding personal debt) will be from attending PA school?”

Of those surveyed, 21.9 percent expect a debt of $100,000 to $124,999; 20.8 percent said $75,000 to $99,999; and 14.5 percent said $50,000 to $74,999.

In total, that means the majority of respondents expected to owe anywhere from $75,000 to more than $124,000 in student debt. And even with a median $101,480 salary, that’s quite a burden to bear.

So if you’re just starting out in your career and battling giant student loan payments, it’s worth your time to investigate all of these repayment and forgiveness programs. Don’t leave money sitting on the table.

It’s not easy caring for people all day only to go home and worry about your student loans. But if you qualify for a physician assistant loan repayment program, you can put in a hard day’s work, doing what you love, and get rest easy at home.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate.” Rates listed include a 0.25% EFT discount, for automatic payments made from a checking or savings account. Interest rates as of 11/8/2018. Rates subject to change.

Variable rate options consist of a range from 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term, 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term, 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term, 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.27% per year to 6.09% per year for a 5-year term would be from $180.89 to $193.75. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.64% per year to 6.14% per year for a 7-year term would be from $139.65 to $146.76. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.69% per year to 6.19% per year for a 10-year term would be from $104.56 to $111.98. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.94% per year to 6.44% per year for a 15-year term would be from $78.77 to $86.78. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.19% per year to 6.69% per year for a 20-year term would be from $67.05 to $75.68.

However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:
    Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.979% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.30% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.

5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.

All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.28% effective October 10, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.29%. Variable interest rates range from 2.79%-8.39% (2.79%-8.39% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
& Graduate

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2.57% – 6.97%1Undergrad
& Graduate

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2.51% – 8.09%4Undergrad
& Graduate

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3.02% – 6.44%2Undergrad
& Graduate

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2.50% – 7.24%5Undergrad
& Graduate

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2.79% – 8.39%6Undergrad
& Graduate

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.