Nursing Shortage and the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program, The

Nursing Shortage and the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program, The

According to Denise H. Geolot, PhD, RN, FAAN, HHS Director, the FY 2003 Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP) cycle is now available. The NELRP is one component of the Department of Health and Human Services’ strategy to address the nursing shortage. The NELRP is designed to assist in the recruitment and retention of registered nurses dedicated to providing healthcare to underserved populations and provides an economic incentive to registered nurses who start or continue to practice in health care facilities with a critical shortage of nurses.

The program offers RNs substantial economic assistance to repay their educational loans in exchange for service to the underserved in certain Healthcare facilities. All NELRP participants must enter into a contract agreeing to provide full-time employment in an approved critical shortage facility for 2 years. In return, the NELRP will pay 60% of the participant’s total qualifying loan balance for a 2-year commitment. A participant who agrees to serve 2 years may be eligible to amend the NELRP contract and work a third year in a critical shortage facility, for which the NELRP will pay an additional 25% of the qualifying loan balance.

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has stated that “The nursing shortage in our country is severe and as the demand for health care grows, it’s absolutely critical that we encourage more of our nation’s top students to choose careers in nursing.” He further stated, “These funds will help ease the emerging shortage of qualified nurses available to provide essential healthcare services in many underserved communities nationwide.”

The FY2003 NELRP application cycle opened on December 30, 2002 and will close on March 31, 2003. For more information and to apply to the NELRP, please visit them online at http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/loanrepay.htm or call toll free at 1-866-813-3753.

Copyright Alabama State Nurses’ Association Mar-May 2003

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