State Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals
Frequently Asked Questions
If you do not find the answer to your question here, please call the State Loan Repayment Program Coordinator at (302) 739-2730.
(For information on general DHCC issues, go to DHCC FAQS.)
- What is the purpose of the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)?
- How does the program work?
- Which professions are eligible to participate in the SLRP?
- What types of educational loans qualify?
- What if I don’t have any educational loans?
- What is the amount of loan repayment practitioners are eligible to receive?
- What is the difference between a state-only funded contract and a state & federal match?
- What is a health professional shortage area (HPSA) and where are they located?
- What are the requirements for participating health professionals?
- Are there specific requirements for dentists or for medical/non-dental clinicians?
- What factors will be considered when choosing which applications will be approved?
- Where can I obtain an application?
- When is the application deadline?
- I am currently in medical/dental school or residency/professional training, can I apply?
- What is the start date of the SLRP service commitment?
- Can I change practice sites during my commitment?
- Do I have to pay taxes on the payments I receive?
- Can I terminate my SLRP contract at any time?
- What can I do if my application is not approved?
- If I wish to continue working in the same site after my initial service obligation is fulfilled, can I continue to do so?
- Who should I contact for more information?
1. What is the purpose of the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)?
SLRP is designed to recruit health professionals to underserved areas of the State by repaying a portion of their educational debt in exchange for their commitment to practice in an underserved area in Delaware. Practice sites may include public or private non-profit settings and private practices (solo or group).
2. How does the program work?
The Delaware Health Care Commission (DHCC), in cooperation with the Delaware Higher Education Commission, administers SLRP and is authorized to make awards for repayment of outstanding government and commercial loans incurred during undergraduate or graduate education (i.e. principal, interest and related expenses for tuition and educational costs)
SLRP provides educational loan repayment assistance to clinicians who agree to work at an eligible practice site in Delaware, which must be located in an area identified by the DHCC as being medically underserved. Health professionals participating in this program must provide services full-time (a minimum of 40 hours per week, not including on-call or travel time) for a minimum of two (2) years. Participants may re-apply for contract extensions in one-year increments, not to exceed a total of four (4) years of loan repayment. Extensions are granted at the discretion of the State Loan Repayment Committee and are contingent upon the availability of funds. Priority is given to new applicants.
|Advanced-Degree Practitioners||Mid-Level Practitioners|
(Note- * Indicates an approved primary care specialty for physicians.)
5. What if I don’t have any educational loans?
In some cases, loan repayment funds may also be awarded to assist with capital loans (i.e. bank loans) for equipment expenditures to establish a practice in an area of high need. These awards are granted at the discretion of the Loan Repayment Review Committee and are contingent upon the availability of funds.
- Advanced-degree Practitioners may be granted up to $70,000 for an initial two (2) year commitment, and $35,000 for each additional year (not to exceed a total of four (4) years of loan repayment).
- Mid-level Practitioners may be granted up to $35,000 for an initial two (2) year commitment, and $17,500 for each additional year (not to exceed a total of four (4) years of loan repayment).*
* Please note that these figures represent the maximum awards possible; they are not guaranteed levels of funding. All awards are paid on a graduated scale.
7. What is the difference between a State-only funded contract and a State
& federal match?
In cases where a practice site is public or non-profit AND located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), State dollars provided for loan repayment can be matched dollar-for-dollar with federal funds. Additionally, health care sites must be HPSA appropriate for the provider's discipline: primary care providers in a Primary Care HPSA, dental providers in a Dental HPSA and mental health providers in a Mental Health HPSA. Contracts with providers that will be supported using the federal match are required to include a stringent financial penalty for breach in cases where a clinician fails to complete his or her contractual service commitment.
In cases where a practice site is for-profit AND located in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), State-only dollars are provided for loan repayment. Health care sites must be HPSA appropriate for the provider's discipline: primary care providers in a Primary Care HPSA, dental providers in a Dental HPSA and mental health providers in a Mental Health HPSA.
In cases where a practice site is a public facility and is not located in a federally designated HPSA, State-only dollars are provided for loan repayment.
State-only dollars are also provided for repayment of capital loans.
Private for-profit practices not located in a federally designated HPSA do not qualify for the Loan Repayment Program.
8. What is a health professional shortage area (HPSA) and where are they
Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are defined as having shortages of primary medical care, dental or mental health providers and may be geographic (a county or service area), demographic (low income population), or institutional (e.g. comprehensive health center, federally qualified health center, or other public facility).
- Be a clinician practicing in an eligible specialty with United States citizenship or a legal permanent resident of the United States or be a selected refugee approved by the U.S. Attorney General;
- Be committed to providing full-time patient care (minimum of 40 hours a week, not including time on-call or travel time, except in those instances where the clinician is providing full-time care to low income, homebound patients in an underserved area and for whom transportation to the clinician's office is either unavailable or unreliable) for a minimum of two (2) years in an underserved area;
- Establish residency within 30 minutes of the practice site or, in the case of physicians, meet the requirement of the hospital in the catchment areas for admitting privileges;
- Have a valid, unrestricted license to practice in the State of Delaware at the time the service obligation begins;
- Have not been convicted of any felony, including but not limited to violent felonies, as so defined under either federal or State law and as more particularly defined and enumerated in 11 Del. C. Sec. 4201;
- Have not been convicted or found guilty of, or disciplined by this or any other State licensing board or agency authorized to issue a certificate to practice medicine or dentistry in this or any other State, for unprofessional conduct as so defined in 24 Del. C. Sec. 1731(a). Such a bar to applying for the Delaware State Loan Repayment Program For Health Professionals shall occur if the applicant was disciplined by means of levying a fine or by the restriction, suspension or revocation, either permanently or temporarily, of the applicant’s certificate to practice medicine or dentistry, or by other appropriate action, which may include a requirement that the applicant who was disciplined must also complete specified continuing professional education courses; and
- Have outstanding qualifying higher education loans that are not in default.
- All dentists must agree that a minimum of 20% of their scheduled appointments will be comprised of Medicaid and S-CHIP (Delaware Healthy Children Program) patients and/or low-income (<200 FPL) dentally uninsured patients who will be provided care at reduced rates or free-of-charge. Low-income patients may include participants in the Nemours Dental Outreach program and the Vocational Rehabilitation program administered through the Delaware Division of Public Health. Unannounced audits of office scheduling records may be made periodically by Loan Repayment officials.
- All medical / non-dental clinicians must agree to participate in the Delaware Community Healthcare Access Program (CHAP) and the Voluntary Initiative Program (VIP) sponsored by the Medical Society of Delaware. CHAP provides low cost or no cost primary care "medical homes" to individuals who are ineligible for the Diamond State Health Plan or the Delaware Healthy Children Program, yet within established income limits. Enrollment in CHAP also provides eligible individuals with access to a statewide network of medical subspecialty services. Other benefits currently under negotiation include discounted lab and x-ray services, and pharmaceuticals. CHAP recipients receive discounted medical services based upon their income. VIP II is a statewide network of private physicians who accept CHAP patients into their practices and serve as their health home or provide medical subspecialty services. To enroll in VIP II, call Wheeler & Associates at (302) 744-9267.
11. What factors will be considered when choosing which applications
will be approved?
The Delaware State Loan Repayment Review Committee will review and rank applications in priority order. This will be based on the objective review of data (including public health indicators, the number and spatial distribution of providers practicing in Delaware, hospital needs assessments when applicable), the availability of funding, practice sites and (when applicable) the outcome of face-to-face interviews with selected applicants.
12. Where can I obtain an application?
The SLRP materials and applications are available on the Delaware Health Care Commission website: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dhcc/slrp.html.
13. When is the application deadline?
Loan repayment applications are accepted anytime, but will be reviewed according to the following schedule. All application materials must be received by the listed due date for review and consideration during that cycle.
|Applications DUE||Applications REVIEWED||Awards ANNOUNCED|
November 6, 2013
November 18, 2013
January 17, 2014
January 2, 2014
January 13, 2014
March 14, 2014
April 3, 2014
April 14, 2014
June 13, 2014
August 14, 2014
August 25, 2014
October 10, 2014
October 23, 2014
November 3, 2014
January 16, 2015
14. I am currently in medical/dental school or residency/professional
training, can I apply?
Applicants interested in working in an underserved area of Delaware are encouraged to apply toward the end of their residency/training programs as they search for employment. Search for health professional job opportunities at the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network: https://www.3rnet.org/. Note that not all sites listed qualify for loan repayment.
15. What is the start date of the SLRP service commitment?
Start date varies depending on when an SLRP award is made and a contract is signed. A loan repayment contract will not begin until a clinician has officially begun working at an approved site.
16. Can I change practice sites during my commitment?
SLRP providers may change practice sites to another eligible SLRP placement site during service obligation. Participants should request any move in writing to the loan repayment coordinator at least thirty (30) days prior to the change. Requests to change location of practice will be evaluated based on eligibility criterion and service area priorities.
- State and federal funds - according to an interpretation of an amendment to the federal Public Health Service Act, qualifying loan repayment awards funded with matching State and federal dollars awarded on or after January 1, 2004 are exempt from federal gross income and employment taxes. Additionally, the State of Delaware follows the federal regulations so that qualifying loan repayment funds are also exempt from Delaware State income tax.
- State-only funds - according to an interpretation of the federal Public Health Service Act, awards funded with non-qualifying State-only dollars may constitute a taxable event subject to state and federal taxation on the total award amount.
Recipients will be notified at the time of award, and prior to signing a contract, whether their award contains qualifying State and federal dollars or State-only dollars. All loan repayment award recipients are strongly advised and urged to contact their own tax professional for information and advice regarding the possible tax implications specific to their personal financial circumstances and loan repayment awards.
18. Can I terminate my SLRP contract at any time?
Yes, however stringent financial penalties will be applied to participants that breach the SLRP contract prior to completing the initial two-year commitment.
19. What can I do if my application is not approved?
An application may be rejected for several reasons, including but not limited to: the site is not in an underserved area; the clinician is ineligible and/or does not meet the qualifications; an incomplete application was submitted; unavailability of funds; etc. If your application is not approved you may choose to re-apply at a later date, or speak with the Loan Repayment Program Coordinator.
20. If I wish to continue working in the same site after my initial service
obligation is fulfilled, can I continue to do so?
Employment with the site is independent from the SLRP contract; however, it is the desire and goal of the program that a clinician remains employed in Delaware.
21 Who should I contact for more information?
Loan Repayment Coordinator
Delaware Health Care Commission
Margaret O’Neill Building, Third Floor
410 Federal Street - Suite 7
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 739-2730
Fax: (302) 739-6927
or visit the Delaware Health Care Commission’s website at: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dhcc/