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3 Options for Montana Student Loan Forgiveness

Fifty-five percent of Montanans graduate with student loan debt, with an average balance of $27,114, according to data from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). Paying back student loans can be tough while you’re saving for other goals and dealing with inflation and cost of living. 

If you live in the state of Montana and are looking for student loan forgiveness programs, you have a few options. Below are the top Montana student loan forgiveness programs and other options to consider. 

3 Montana student loan forgiveness options

Montana student loan borrowers have access to several loan forgiveness programs, but they’re mostly for health care providers. 

1. Montana State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP)

The Montana State Loan Repayment Program is designed to get primary care providers in Montana working in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). 

The amount of loan repayment assistance for qualified full-time candidates is $37,500 per year for a two-year service commitment. Part-time workers might qualify for up to half of that amount. As a bonus, you might be able to extend your service commitment for one year. 

To qualify, candidates must: 

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Work at an eligible site.
  • Completed educational requirements.
  • Have a practicing license in Montana.
  • Provide primary care services. 

Physicians in Montana, as well as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and primary care registered nurses qualify for this program. This includes specialties including pediatrics, internal medicine, behavioral health, and more. 

Visit Montana’s SLRP page to apply

2. Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program (MRPIP)

Through the Montana Rural Physician Incentive Program, eligible physicians willing to work in a rural area might qualify for loan repayment assistance. This program helps fill a professional resource gap in underserved areas. 

The maximum award amount is quite generous at up to $150,000. However, you can’t get this loan repayment assistance in full while receiving help from other programs. If you get other forms of support, the award might be adjusted. 

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. or Foreign National.
  • M.D. or D.O.
  • Current medical license in Montana.
  • Qualifying medical education loans in the U.S. 

You must serve for five years to get the total $150,000 award. The payments are made directly to your loan servicer/lender and happens on a schedule. 

Send questions to AwardMontana@montana.edu or call 1-800-537-7508. If you’re interested, submit your application through the MRPIP website

3. Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program (MINIP)

The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program provides funds for student loan repayment for eligible registered professional nurses. Nurses must be willing to work full-time in a Montana state hospital or Montana state prison as part of the program. 

To qualify for the program, you must: 

  • Be licensed as a registered professional nurse in Montana.
  • Work in a full-time capacity at a Montana state hospital or Montana state prison.
  • Have a remaining minimum balance of $1,000 for nursing education loans. 

You might qualify for a total of $15,000 which is disbursed at $3,750 annually, over four years. Apply for the MINIP now.

Other student loan forgiveness options for Montana borrowers

If you don’t qualify for state-specific student loan forgiveness programs in Montana, look into federal government programs. You must have eligible federal loans from the U.S. Department of Education to qualify. 

Public Service Forgiveness Program

Having federal student loans and working in the public sector can be a great fit. Why? When you have qualifying loans from the government and work for an eligible employer, such as a nonprofit or government entity, you might be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). 

PSLF offers public servants tax-free student loan forgiveness after completing 10 years of service and 120 monthly payments. Student loan borrowers must be on an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) and have a Direct Loan. 

You can talk to your loan servicer about the program and see if your employment qualifies. If you pursue this option, your loans are transferred to MOHELA, the current loan servicer of the PSLF program. 

Income-driven repayment

PSLF is a relatively short route to forgiveness but comes with strings attached. Namely, your forgiveness is contingent on having eligible employment. If you don’t want to work in the public sector for a decade, you might still qualify for loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment.

You must enroll in one of four different IDR plans available. Your monthly payments are capped at 10% to 20% of your discretionary income during repayment. 

Typically, IDR plans can last for 20 or 25 years. After you finish your repayment term, you’re eligible for forgiveness on the remaining balance on eligible federal student loans.

However, note that there might be potential tax consequences for IDR forgiveness later on. Discuss this option with your loan servicer and decide which IDR plan is the best fit for your financial situation. 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teachers working at low-income elementary or secondary schools might be eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Under this program, you must be deemed a “highly qualified teacher” and teach consecutively for five years to get loan repayment assistance. 

Teachers can get up to $5,000, but science, math and special education teachers can receive up to $17,500. If you believe you qualify, submit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your current loan servicer for processing. 

PSLF is the better option for total forgiveness and your five years aren’t used for that program if you go with Teacher Loan Forgiveness. 

Working toward a Montana student loan forgiveness strategy

If you’re looking for Montana student loan forgiveness options, check out the three state forgiveness programs mentioned above. However, if you’re ineligible for state forgiveness programs, consider federal loan forgiveness paths that might offer more flexible requirements.

Getting any student loan repayment assistance can make it easier to tackle your student debt. Need support? Book a consultation with Student Loan Planner for a custom repayment plan. 

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