The federal government offers several loan forgiveness plans in exchange for fulfilling service obligations in designated areas and professions. A notable example is the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program (STAR LRP).
This program offers up to $250,000 in loan repayment to qualified individuals working within the area of substance abuse treatment. Keep reading to learn more about this loan repayment program and see if you qualify.
Note: Applications for STAR LRP are closed for 2021. You can sign up to receive program update emails on future availability.
What is STAR LRP?
The Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program is offered and administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s a federal program that provides loan repayment for individuals who work full-time at a qualifying substance use disorder (SUD) treatment center.
STAR LRP eligibility
Applicants must meet the following program requirements to be eligible to receive repayment assistance through the STAR LRP program:
- Be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident.
- Work as a full-time employee at a STAR-LRP approved facility.
- Be fully licensed and credentialed in an eligible discipline or a registered SUD professional.
Below are the eligible STAR LRP disciplines and specialties.
- Allopathic (MD) or Osteopathic (DO) Physician: Addiction Medicine, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, General Pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Geriatrics, Psychiatry
- Physician Assistant (PA), Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Registered Nurse (RN): Adult, Family, Pediatric, Women’s Health, Geriatrics, Mental Health & Psychiatry
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Pharmacists (PHARM)
- Health Service Psychologist (HSP)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Psychiatric Nurse Specialist (PNS)
- Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Counselors
- Psychology Doctoral Interns
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Licensed Occupational Therapists
- Medical Assistants
- Community Health Workers
- Peer Recovery Specialists
- Case Managers
- Health Navigators
Not all loans are eligible for repayment through STAR LRP. Eligible loans include Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Direct Consolidation Loans and select Perkins Loans.
Other eligible loans include loans for education or training, specifically for substance use disorder treatment employment, and other select loans. Consolidated or refinance student loans might also be eligible for repayment if they only include eligible education loans for the applicant.
Requirements to qualify for HRSA loan assistance
To earn HRSA loan forgiveness, you must commit to six years of full-time employment at a STAR LRP-approved facility, either providing direct treatment or recovery support for substance abuse disorder patients. Psychology doctoral interns must commit to full-time employment as a psychologist for six years, including completing an internship program.
Other details to know about STAR LRP
STAR LRP funding is based on tiered priority. Below are the two tiers that affect funding:
- Tier 1 includes individuals who are working at a STAR LRP-approved facility in a county where the drug overdose death rate has been higher than the national average for the past three years.
- Tier 2 is for individuals working at a STAR LRP-approved facility that’s located in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (MHPSA).
The HRSA considers other factors, like your employment start date and outstanding debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.
STAR LRP funds aren’t exempt from federal income and employment taxes. Instead of participants paying any associated taxes, the HRSA automatically withholds the required taxes from the awarded funds. Loan repayment funds might also be subject to state and local taxes, depending on where you reside.
Applicants might be eligible to participate in more than one loan repayment or forgiveness program. Keep in mind that you’re ineligible for STAR LRP funds if you take part in another loan forgiveness or repayment program with service obligations that occur simultaneously with the STAR LRP.
Contact program administrators for more detailed information if you plan to pursue more than one loan repayment program.
Alternatives to STAR LRP
Depending on your career field, you might qualify for one of the HRSA’s other loan repayment programs:
Each program has its own eligibility and service requirements. All three NHSC loan repayment programs are exempt from federal income taxes.
You might also qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You must work full-time at a qualifying non-profit or government organization while making 120 qualifying loan payments loan forgiveness. Forgiven amounts under PSLF are tax-free.
Take time to research STAR LRP and other loan repayment programs to see if you qualify for any assistance to pay off your student loan debt. If you need help figuring out how to pay off your loans, our student loan consultants can create a customized loan repayment plan that works for you.