Many pharmacists have student loan debt hovering over them for decades, but there are options available that can provide early relief.
If all of your student loan debt just disappeared, it would probably make your life a lot easier, your bank account slightly fuller, and your lifestyle a bit more satisfying.
Finding a recent college graduate with no student loan debt is incredibly difficult these days. And while the average college student owes more than $20,000 when he or she finishes up 4 years of schooling, that doesn’t even compare with those who go on to further schooling.
Before pharmacists even get their first paycheck, they’re facing $80,000-plus in debt, according to FinAid.org. That much debt can take years to repay—sometimes right up to retirement. However, health professionals such as pharmacists have another option.
In 2012, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) grant program extended support to pharmacists. The organization’s State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) gives grants to states to offer loan repayment for health professionals in underserved areas.
However, 15 states do not currently have an SLRP: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
The program was initially created for primary care providers, but NHSC included pharmacists in the program after the Pharmacist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility Act of 2011 was introduced in the Senate and went nowhere.
Pharmacists must meet a number of criteria in order to be eligible, including providing 40 hours a week of direct patient care in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Eligibility also varies by state, and some states may have an SLRP that does not include pharmacists.
Another option is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. If you work at a non-profit, 501(c)(3), or government agency, you could be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years through it.
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for loan forgiveness or repayment help. If that’s the case, then you’d better set a budget and create a plan to pay off your student loans quickly.
Have a question about how to handle your own financial challenges? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.