The Ultimate Guide to Student Loan Repayment and Forgiveness for Psychologists

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As a professional in the field of psychology, you’re well aware of the toll that financial stress can take on your mental health.

Fortunately, there are a variety of student loan forgiveness programs and repayment programs to help you deal with your student loan debt. Some of these programs make your student loan payments more affordable, while others discharge some or all of your loans. There are also programs that award you thousands of dollars a year to help you pay them off as fast as possible.

After four years in college and another four to seven in a doctoral program, you’ve likely accumulated some major student loan debt. Read on to learn about your options for student loan repayment assistance and forgiveness for psychologists.

National repayment options and student loan forgiveness for psychologists

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives federal loans for anyone working in a qualifying organization. Eligible workplaces include:

  • A government organization at the federal, state, or local level
  • A 501(c)3 non-profit organization
  • A non-profit organization that’s not 501(c)3 designated but meets other requirements related to public service
  • AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps

After 10 years of making payments toward your loans (beginning in October 2007), the government will forgive your remaining balance under PSLF. If you’re looking to take advantage of this option, you should either take out a Direct Consolidation Loan or get on an income-driven repayment plan. If you stick with the standard 10-year repayment plan, you won’t have any loan balance left to forgive.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment assistance

While PSLF makes you wait 10 years before forgiving your loans, the National Health Service Corps offers loan assistance after just two. To qualify, you must work for two years in an approved high-need, underserved area. Qualifying facilities are located in both urban and rural areas across the country.

To be eligible, you must be a health service psychologist, licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, mental health nurse practitioner, or mental health physician’s assistant. After you complete your service, NHSC could grant you up to $50,000 to repay your loans.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) loan repayment programs

The National Institutes of Health program offers loan assistance to psychologists engaged in research projects. You must have your Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.) and commit to at least two years of approved research in a non-profit organization. If you’re eligible, NIH could repay up to $35,000 of your student loans every year.

Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Services program pays up to $40,000 to behavioral health professionals. You must work for at least two years in a health facility that serves American Indian or Native Alaskan communities.

Eligible professions include clinical psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

Student loan repayment assistance for psychologists by state

Alaska

The Alaska Supporting Health Care Access Through Loan Repayment (SHARP) program offers loan assistance to psychologists practicing in Alaska. If you commit to a two-year contract in a designated shortage area, you could receive up to $20,000 for two years.

Especially hard to fill positions come with a yearly stipend up to $27,000.

Arizona

The Arizona State Loan Repayment Program awards behavioral health specialists, like clinical social workers, professional counselors, clinical psychologists, and marriage and family therapists. You must serve full-time or half-time for two years at an approved service site.

The program awards full-time providers between $40,000 to $50,000 and gives $20,000 to $25,000 to half-time providers. If you choose to stay in the role beyond your two-year contract, you can get additional loan repayment assistance every year.

California

California has a couple of options for student loan forgiveness for psychologists. The Mental Health Loan Assumption program awards up to $10,000 to psychologists and other behavioral health providers. You must work for 12 months in a role that your county has deemed hard to fill.

The California State Loan Repayment Program also helps mental and behavioral health providers who work in designated shortage areas. Award amounts vary from $2,500 to $50,000 depending on your work commitment.

Colorado

The Colorado Health Service Corps awards $25,000 to $50,000 for licensed mental health providers. You must work between two and three years at a shortage site in Colorado.

Both part-time and full-time work qualifies.

Delaware

If you’re a mental health counselor, therapist, or social worker in Delaware, you could benefit from working in an underserved area. The Delaware State Loan Repayment Program awards up to $70,000 to providers with an advanced degree in exchange for two years of service. Providers who stay for three years could receive up to $105,000.

If you’re a mid-level practitioner, the program grants up to $35,000 for two years and $52,500 for a three-year contract.

Hawaii

If you work in a designated shortage area in Hawaii, the state could give you student loan assistance, but you must commit to a two-year service contract.

Award amounts from the Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program vary, but it’s certain to help you out if you qualify.

Kansas

The Kansas State Student Loan Forgiveness Program awards up to $20,000 per year to mental and behavioral health providers with a Kansas license. You must commit to a two-year service contract, but you can also extend this contract and continue to get assistance for up to three more years.

The Kansas Rural Opportunities Zone Program also offers loan assistance to anyone willing to live in one a “rural opportunity zone.” If you establish residency in one of these 77 counties, you could receive up to $15,000.

Kentucky

The Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program matches any loan repayment assistance you get through the National Health Service Corps.

The program awards up to $40,000 to licensed mental health professionals and behavioral health practitioners.

Maryland

If you’re a psychologist in Maryland, you’re in luck. The Janet L. Hoffman Student Loan Assistance Program provides assistance for counselors and therapists who make less than $60,000 a year.

If you’re a medical professional who specializes in mental health, you could qualify for the Maryland State Loan Repayment Program.

Massachusetts

If you’re a psychologist in Massachusetts, you could receive up to $50,000 in loan assistance. The Massachusetts Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers loan forgiveness to psychologists who commit to two-year contracts.

You can also reapply to the program for two more years and receive up to $100,000 in loan assistance.

Michigan

The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program awards Michigan psychologists and other mental health providers working in designated areas.

Initial two-year contracts come with $20,000 in loan assistance, but you can extend your contract for eight years and receive up to $200,000. But this is as long as the assistance amount doesn’t exceed your total debt.

Minnesota

Minnesota is another state with student loan forgiveness for psychologists.

The Minnesota Health Professionals Student Loan Forgiveness Program awards $12,000 to psychologists in designated rural or urban areas.

Montana

The Montana NHSC Student Loan Repayment Program offers up to $15,000 for two years to psychologists and other mental health providers.

Like many other state loan forgiveness for psychologists programs, the Montana program requires two years of service in a designated area.

Nebraska

If you’re a graduate student in Nebraska, you could get a forgivable loan. The Nebraska Rural Health Student Loan Program awards loans of $30,000 for up to four years or $15,000 for up to two years.

If you agree to work in a shortage area after graduation, the program forgives the loans. But if you fail to fulfill your agreement, you’ll have to repay 150 percent of the original loan and 8% interest from the date of default.

Nevada

Psychologists and counselors in Nevada could qualify for loan forgiveness from the Nevada Health Service Corps program. Award amounts vary depending on funding for the year.

You must work in a shortage area, most of which tend to be in rural communities.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program is for psychologists and providers in underserved areas.

You must commit to a full-time role for three years or a part-time role for two years.

New York

If you provide mental health services as a social worker, you could qualify for the New York State Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program.

The program offers up to $26,000 for social workers who work in designated counties.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program grants up to $60,000 to full-time psychologists, counselors, therapists, and social workers in shortage areas.

Part-time providers can receive up to $30,000.

Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island assists psychologists and mental health providers through the Rhode Island Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program.

Award amounts vary, but you can qualify with part-time or full-time work.

Texas

The Texas Student Loan Repayment Programs for mental health professionals distributes over $2 million in loan assistance to qualifying psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists.

Providers must commit to a five-year contract and must work with people enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Virginia

If you’re a psychologist in Virginia, you could get up to $140,000 over four years from the Virginia State Loan Repayment Program.

To be eligible, you must have completed residency training and be board eligible or board certified in an eligible specialty.

Washington

Washington offers student loan forgiveness for psychologists and related professionals through both the Federal-State Loan Repayment Program and the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. The federal program offers up to $70,000 for a two-year service contract, and the state program awards up to $75,000 for three years.

Your options for income-driven repayment plans

Not everyone wants to work in a critical shortage area or in a role that qualifies for student loan repayment assistance. But there are still options for making your student loan debt more manageable without this service commitment.

If you’re struggling to make student loan payments, you could get on an income-driven repayment plan. Here are the four options for income-based repayment:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

All of these plans extend your federal loan terms to 20 or 25 years, depending on the specific plan. Plus, they cap your monthly payments at 10 to 20 percent of your monthly discretionary income (again, depending on the plan). Finally, any remaining debt at the end of the repayment term will be discharged – but it will be taxed as income for that year.

If you’re struggling to make monthly payments, these plans could help. But because you’ll be paying for so many years, you’ll end up paying a lot more in interest.

Income-driven plans are helpful if you’re really financially strapped, but they’re not the best move if you don’t have a major financial need.

Refinancing could help you pay off student debt faster

While income-driven plans adjust your federal student loan payments, refinancing can lessen the burden of both private and federal student loans. When you refinance with a private lender, you pay off your previous student loans by taking out a new one.

This new loan will hopefully have a lower interest rate. If your interest rate drops substantially, you could save thousands of dollars on your student debt.

Refinancing also lets you choose new repayment terms, often between five and 20 years. You could choose a shorter term if you’re ready to pay off your loan as fast as possible, or you could lengthen the repayment window if your priority is lowering your monthly payments.

Plus, refinancing simplifies the student loan payment process. Instead of keeping track of multiple monthly bills, you’ll take care of just one.

If you have a steady income and good credit score, you could be a strong candidate for student loan refinancing. Switching to a refinanced loan could help make your student debt more manageable.

As a psychologist or mental health provider, you understand how important it is to adopt healthy behaviors. By being proactive about your student loan debt, you’re well on the way to finding financial balance.

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 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% 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

Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.

Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.804% 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 the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.64% 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

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable 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 October 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.22%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.32% (2.72%-8.32% 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.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 6.23%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.95% – 6.37%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.32%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
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.