Is The NHSC Scholarship Program Worth It?

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program returns again for the 2019/2020 school year, with some excellent benefits that are totally worth taking advantage of (if you can qualify for them!).

This program is EXTREMELY powerful, as it covers the costs of FOUR YEARS worth of tuition, fees and other “reasonable education costs” (for books, supplies, equipment, etc.) as well as a monthly stipend.

The downside to the program is that you have to agree to serve in an “area of greatest need” as soon as you finish your training, and that each you’ll have to serve in one of those areas for at least one year for each year of support that you receive.

For some people, this trade-off won’t be worth it, because sometimes the only available areas of greatest need are absolutely terrible places to work (like prisons, or extremely dangerous inner city environments), but the only way to find out if the NHSC Scholarship would be a good deal for you is to go through all the details outlined below!

But Before We Go Through Details…

Before I explain the way the NHSC Scholarship Program works, let me introduce you to one quick concept: if you’ve already got outstanding student loan debt, and you’re not sure how to get rid of it, then you need to call the Student Loan Relief Helpline.

Since you’re reading a page about the National HEALTH Service Corps Scholarship, it’s probably safe to assume you work in the medical or healthcare field, and the great news for you is that there are all sorts of Federal and even Private Student Loan Forgiveness Programs created specifically for you!

Whether you’re a Nurse, Doctor, Dentist, Licensed Medical Technician, Medical School or Nursing School Faculty Member or even just some sort of admin in a medical field, you’ve got a really good chance at qualifying to have a significant percentage of your loans completely forgiven.

To find out what you may qualify for, give the Student Loan Relief Helpline a call and explain that you work in the medical field and that you’re wondering what you may be able to take advantage of. They will outline your options, then tell you what you need to do to get started on the path toward getting your loans forgiven.

Don’t worry! The Helpline is NOT a Student Loan Forgiveness Scam – it’s staffed by actual experts, and it will only cost you money if you choose to let them take care of the heavy lifting for you!

To reach the Helpline, call 1-888-906-3065.

National Health Services Corps Scholarship Program Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the NHSC Scholarship Program, the most important requirement are that don’t already have a ton of student loan debt and that you haven’t already completed all your education programs, because this is not technically a “forgiveness” program (which gets rid of existing debt), but more a program created to help you prevent creating new debt (that’s how scholarships typically work).

You’re also going to need to sign a commitment (a literal contract) stating that you’ll agree to work as a primary care provider in an eligible field, and that you’ll agree to do that work for a period of at least one year, and in one of those “highest need” areas I mentioned above.

Finally, you need to be a U.S. Citizen or U.S. National, and you’ve got to already be accepted to or enrolled at an accredited higher education institution where you’re studying to become a:

  • Physician Assistant
  • Physician (MD or DO)
  • Nurse Practitioner (with a Post Grad Degree focused in Clinical Practice)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Dentist

By the way, that note above means that you CAN qualify for the scholarship even if you’re still an undergraduate student, because the Application Guidelines state that you must be in the “pre-professional phase” of your health professions education, and provide the excample that you could qualify for the scholarship if you are “taking undergraduate pre-requisites for admissions to a health professions training program”.

As long as you satisfy all these conditions, then you’ll be able to get up to four years of higher education expenses and other fees and costs, plus a monthly stipend from this program, which is GREAT DEAL for virtually anyone (but especially people who don’t have a lot of money!).

How Does the NHSC Scholarship Program Work?

Once you satisfy all the eligibility conditions, and agree to sign your service commitment, you need to finish up your schooling then start working at one of those approved sites in a “medically underserved area” (technically, one of the areas of highest need).

You’ll need to provide the service listed in your service contract for a period of at least one year for each year of benefits you received, so if you got 2 years worth of support while you were in school, then you need to serve in that medically underserved area for at least 2 years.

As long as you fulfill your end of the bargain, the NHSC will continue making payments toward your tuition, fees and other costs, as well as providing you with that monthly living stipend.

The NHSC will also help you find a job at one of their highest need sites, and they’ll provide you with all sorts of other opportunities, like educational resources, training resources, and networking opportunities.

Again, this is a great deal for people who can’t finance their own education, or who want to avoid diving deeply into debt, but it’s not a great program for people who want to live in a certain area (especially a nice one!) or work at a super high-end facility, because you’ll probably end up working in a prison, or in a super rural, or incredibly urban environment.

How Do I Apply For the Scholarship?

The NHSC Scholarship Program only allows you to apply once per year, during a specific time period.

Typically, the application window occurs in the first quarter of the year (January, February or March), but the actual time frame does change from year to year, so you always need to check in to figure out when it’s time for you to apply.

Fortunately, the Application Process is at least straightforward, and you can start it by visiting the official NHSC Scholarship Application Portal, here.

What Else Should I Know?

There are all sorts of other nuances and details that you’ll want to take into account when deciding if you really want to pursue this program.

Before you start filling out that Application, the first thing I’d recommend doing is finishing reading this post, because you may find a deal-breaker somewhere in the details of how it all works.

Then, once you’re done reading my review of the program, go and check out the official NHSC Scholarship Program Application Guide PDF, which goes through all the program details in extreme detail, leaving no stone unturned.

You can find that document here.

Will My Benefits Be Taxed?

This is a big deal, and a huge issue that most people aren’t even aware of, because if you have to pay taxes on the benefits you’re receiving, then you’re obviously going to get way less money.

For the NHSC Scholarship, the good news is that your Tuition, Fees and other Educational Expenses will NOT be taxed, but the bad news is that your monthly living stipend WILL be taxed, meaning that you’ll have to include it in your IRS filings, and pay some percentage of whatever you receive back to the Federal Government.

Which, to me, is kind of a raw deal, because first off, it’s going to inflate your income, potentially increasing the percentage of money you’re forced to pay (depending on which tax bracket you fall into), and because you’ll have to be pretty responsible with the money you’re being given, setting some of it aside before spending it all.

And I think we can all understand how difficult that is for most students to do, especially since they typically aren’t even aware that the benefits they’re receiving are taxed AT ALL.

Be Wary of the Looming Taxpocalypse

But this is an industry-wide issue, because most Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits are taxed, whether or not people know that, according to the IRS’s Loan Forgiveness & Taxable Income Laws.

And since I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now, I can tell you that this is a BIG DEAL, as most people currently enrolled in loan forgiveness programs have no idea that they’re about to be hit with a huge IRS bill.

In response to this looming disaster, I’ve created an entirely new website called Forget Tax Debt, where I go through all sorts of tax-related problems in extreme detail, offering advice on how to get out of IRS debt.

If you need help with IRS debt, whether you want to simply File and Pay Back Taxes, or you’re looking to sign up for the IRS Fresh Start Program, then visit Forget Tax Debt here:

What Other Student Loan Relief Programs Should I Consider?

Before you agree to that service commitment in a “highest need area”, make sure you’ve at least reviewed all the other excellent Student Loan Forgiveness and Student Loan Discharge Programs that are on offer!

Why? Because as a Healthcare worker, there’s a pretty good chance that you could find some other forgiveness or discharge program that will allow you to avoid becoming a Jailhouse Dentist, Nurse or Doctor.

In fact, if you’re planning on using mostly Federal loans to fund your education expenses, then you’re going to have all sorts of amazing options for getting rid of your debt, including all of the following excellent benefits programs:

Like I said… you’ve got all sorts of options for pursuing student loan relief, and you shouldn’t think that your only hope is enrolling in the NSHC Scholarship Program, because that’d be a big, big mistake, especially for those of you who plan on serving in a role that qualifies as “Public Service”, like working at a Non-Profit, or for the Government, or the Military.

Make sure that you fully vet all these other programs before agreeing to sign up for the NHSC Scholarship commitment, because if you fail to complete your service contract, you’ll end up having to pay back whatever money they funded you, PLUS additional taxes, fees, and penalties!

What Should I Do?

Honestly, it’s impossible to tell you what to do without knowing all the details of your situation, including your financial background, and your plans for the future.

My advice to anyone who is still trying to figure out what to do with their student loans, or future student loans, is to do whatever they can to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, since I see that as the most powerful forgiveness benefit currently available.

However, in certain situations, perhaps the NSHC Scholarship Program would be your best bet! The only way to know for sure will be to review their Application Guidelines in detail, and to determine whether or not it’s the best opportunity for your specific situation.

Where Can I Go For Questions?

You’ve got all sorts of options! I built this website to help people like you learn to Get Rid of Student Loan Debt Without Paying for It, and I’ve created over 100 Guides on different parts of that process.

To ensure you’re dealing with your loans as efficiently as possible, saving as much money as you can and getting out of debt as quickly as you can, I recommend reviewing my Guides for details on each part of the repayment process.

If you need Help with Federal Student Loans, you’ll want to visit my Guides on:

And if you need Help with Private Student Loans, then you should take a look at my Guides on:

Next, for a more interactive form of assistance, please feel free to post any questions you might have about student loan debt in the Comments section below, and I’ll do my best to get you a response within 24 hours.

Finally, if you have questions specific to the NHSC Scholarship Program, you can call the NHSC directly at 1-800-221-9393, or visit their “Contact” page to send questions via email.

And finally, don’t forget about the Student Loan Relief Helpline. They’re my absolute favorite spot for getting answers about complicated student loan topics, because that’s what they do all day, every day!

To reach the Helpline, simply call 1-888-906-3065.

Please Help!

If this page helped you out, then please make sure to do your part in ensuring I can continue dedicating so much of my time putting guides like this together.

Share a link to this page with your friends, family, fellow students and colleagues. Post it on Facebook, share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, or wherever else you may be participating on Social Media.

The more people who visit this site, the more time I can spend on it, and the more likely you’ll be to find accurate, helpful information at Forget Student Loan Debt.

Thank you so much for your consideration, and good luck with your loans!

Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.


Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.