According to The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), 48% of California 2018-2019 college graduates had student loan debt. And the average debt load for those graduates was $21,485.
California is also known for its high cost of living. And this can be an even bigger problem when you’re strapped with educational debt. The good news is, however, is that there are several programs that offer student loan forgiveness in California. We break down several of your best options below.
10 best options for student loan forgiveness in California
Compare the student loan forgiveness programs at the federal and state level to make the best decision for your finances. Here are 10 California student loan forgiveness programs to consider.
1. CalHealthCares Loan Repayment Program
The CalHealthCares Loan Repayment Program can provide up to $300,000 of loan payment assistance for eligible dentists and physicians. However, in exchange, participating healthcare professionals must commit to providing care to Medi-Cal patients (which represent a third of all Californians).
You’ll need to agree to a five-year service obligation to earn the $300,000 of loan repayment from the CalHealthCares program. That’s a significant time commitment. But it could be well worth it if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical or dental student loans.
You can find out more and complete an application at the CalHealthCares Loan Repayment Program resource page.
2. California Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program (BSNLRP)
If you’re a nurse in California and have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, you may qualify for this program. The BSNLRP program offers $10,000 of loan repayment for one year of service at a specific facility. Nurses can receive this award up the three times for a total of $30,000 in student loan forgiveness.
You’ll be expected to practice patient care at least 32 hours per week. The program offers facility location at a:
- Registered Nurse Shortage Area (RNSA)
- Primary Care Shortage Area (PCSA)
- County, state, prison or veteran’s facility
For more information on eligibility, visit California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
3. Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program (AHLRP)
The Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program can help medical professionals repay up to 16,000 per year of their qualified educational loans.
In exchange, program participants must provide care at one of the 35 CMSP counties. Healthcare workers can qualify for the program up to three times for a maximum award of $48,000. Find eligible AHLRP counties.
4. California State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)
The California SLRP is designed for medical professionals. You may be eligible if you’re working in one of the following disciplines:
- Primary Care Physician
- Dental Hygienist
- Physician Assistant (PA)
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Mental/Behavioral Health Provider
The California SLRP offers a maximum of $50,000 of student loan forgiveness for your first two years of service. In addition, extension grants beyond this are available. But these vary from year to year based on funding.
During your years of service, you must agree to work in a California Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).
5. Licensed Vocational Nurse Loan Repayment Program (LVNLRP)
The LVNLRP is for licensed and practicing vocational nurses and only requires one year of service. You can receive up to $6,000 for working 12 months, full time, at a qualified California facility. Nurses can be awarded this amount up to three times, totaling $18,000 of student loan forgiveness.
Qualified facilities are available under federal and California state designations. Besides these options, any state, county, veteran or correctional facility qualifies. Indian Health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers are also options.
6. Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program (STLRP)
The STLRP is available to recently licensed physicians and surgeons in California. The program is an incentive to practice in an HPSA or in a PCSA in California.
You can be awarded up to $105,000 in loan repayment in exchange for working full time for a minimum of three years. Also, applicants can receive the awarded two times for a grand total of $210,000 in repayment of educational loans.
7. Licensed Mental Health (LMH) Services Provider Education Program
Licensed and registered mental health professionals can be awarded up to $15,000 for student loan forgiveness in California through the LMH program. Applicants can receive the award up to three times, totaling $45,000 of student loan forgiveness.
In exchange, you must commit to working for 24 months at an eligible site. Eligible sites include publicly-funded or public mental health facilities, nonprofit mental health facilities that serve the county or designated mental health profession shortage areas.
8. County Medical Services Program Loan Repayment Program (CMSP LRP)
Primary care health professionals working in designated counties within California can qualify for the CMSP LRP. Eligible disciplines include General Dentists, Primary Care Nurse Practitioners, Primary Care Physician Assistants, and General/Family Medicine.
An applicant can receive up to $50,000 for a commitment of working two years. You must work at least 40 hours per week in an approved location during this time. There are 35 counties listed as qualified locations for CMSP LRP. Also, you can apply when working half time for an award of $25,000 in loan repayment.
9. Advanced Practice Healthcare Loan Repayment Program (APHLRP)
The APHLRP is funded by donations and grants and offers up to $25,000 of California student loan forgiveness. Applicants can receive the award up to three times, totaling $75,000 of student loan forgiveness.
To be eligible, you can be a health professional in any of the following disciplines:
- Certified Nurse Midwives
- Clinical Nurse Specialists
- Nurse Practitioners
- Occupational Therapists
- Physical Therapists
- Physician Assistants
- Speech Therapists
Also, recipients must agree to practice direct patient care at a qualified California facility for one full year. In addition, you must work full time (at least 32 hours per week) during this one-year contract.
10. Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE) grant
The APLE grant is a California teacher loan forgiveness program. Teachers can be eligible for up to $19,000 of student loan forgiveness. You must teach in a qualified, low-performing California school for four consecutive years while maintaining your credentials. Also, teaching service done prior to the application won’t be considered.
The options above are available to those who already have outstanding student loans. California also offers many grants for those attending its local universities. To qualify, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet minimum GPA requirements.
Find out more about the student aid offered at the California Student Aid Commission.
There are many options for student loan forgiveness in California. And you’ll want to dig into which one will best serve you.
How to choose the right student loan forgiveness program in California
Regardless of where you live, you can always consider federal forgiveness programs if you have federal debt. The most common ones are:
Of the three programs listed above, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is the most generous. Eligible borrowers can receive full forgiveness on their remaining balance in as little as 10 years (120 qualifying payments).
But you’ll need to have federal Direct Loans to qualify for PSLF. Unfortunately, Federal Perkins Loan and Federal Family Education loan borrowers are not eligible. And, of course, you’ll need to be working for a qualifying employer (government or not-for-profit organizations).
Note that you can’t double dip when it comes to student loan forgiveness for your federal student loans. For example, you can’t be on the PSLF program while on the California SLRP. However, you can complete a California student loan repayment program and then enroll in a federal student loan forgiveness program afterward.
If you have private student loans, you’re not eligible for most forgiveness programs. Therefore, you may want to look into refinancing your student loans for a lower rate.
Student Loan Planner is here to help you choose the right student loan forgiveness program. We’re experts who can create the most effective student loan debt payoff plan for your unique situation. Reach out and schedule a consultation today.