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4 Top Options for South Dakota Student Loan Forgiveness

South Dakotans have a higher percentage of graduates with student loan debt, according to data from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). Seventy-three percent of South Dakota students from the class of 2020 had education loans to repay upon graduation. The average loan balance was $32,029. 

That amount can be tough to manage for borrowers, given that residents had a per capita income of $33,468 in 2021, based on Census data. In this guide, learn how to get South Dakota student loan forgiveness and other repayment programs. 

4 South Dakota student loan forgiveness options

If you’re looking for assistance with your student loans, the first place to look is in your own backyard. There might be state-specific options available if you meet eligibility requirements. 

Here are four South Dakota student loan forgiveness options to consider. 

1. South Dakota's State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) 

The South Dakota SLRP attracts health professionals to serve in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) by providing loan repayment assistance. By committing to two years of service, eligible candidates can receive $25,000 per year for full-time workers. Those working in a half-time capacity can get $12,500 per year. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Must have a valid license in South Dakota
  • Must work at an eligible site, including private practice, Medicare & Medicaid clinic, correctional facilities, etc. 
  • MD or DO primary care physicians (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, geriatrics, psychiatry)
  • Dentists
  • Dental hygienists 
  • Certified nurse midwives
  • Nurse practitioners 
  • Physician assistants
  • Health service psychologists 
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Psychiatric nurse specialists
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Registered nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Alcohol and substance abuse counselors 

Service commitment: 

  • 2 years 

Award amount: 

  • $12,500 per year for half-time workers
  • $25,000 per year for full-time workers 

2. The Recruitment Assistance Program (RAP)

There are limited spots available, but certain health care providers might be eligible for student loan repayment assistance under the RAP.

Eligible candidates must serve in a rural area for a minimum of three years and in exchange, could receive a sizable sum in loan repayment assistance. The communities served must have fewer than 10,000 residents or be further than 20 miles from a city center. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen 
  • Must have valid South Dakota license 
  • Serve for three years at eligible organization as a provider

Additionally, you must work as one of the following professions: 

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Dentists
  • Certified nurse practitioners
  • Certified nurse midwives
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists 

Service commitment:

  • 3 years 

Award amount: 

  • $255,568.00 for dentists and physicians
  • $70,751.20 for other professions listed 

3. The Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance Program

If you’re a health care provider that doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements for the other programs, the Rural Healthcare Facility Recruitment Assistance program can help. This program offers expanded availability for professions. 

However, the award is much smaller at $10,000, and candidates must serve for three years in a community of 10,000 or fewer residents. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Work at a qualified site in an eligible community
  • Serve full-time for three years 

You must also work in an eligible profession, such as: 

  • Dietitian or nutritionist
  • Nurse (LPN or RN)
  • Occupational therapist
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Laboratory technologist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physical therapist
  • Paramedic
  • Medical technologist 
  • Radiologic technologist
  • Speech therapist
  • Healthcare social worker 
  • Dental hygienist 

Service commitment:

  • 3 years 

Award amount: 

  • $10,000

4. Delta Dental Dentist Loan Repayment For Service Program 

The Delta Dental Dentist Loan Repayment For Service Program provides loan repayment assistance as an incentive to work with underserved communities. 

The program is geared toward new dentists who agree to serve a minimum number of Medicaid-insured patients. Over a period of five years, candidates could get a generous amount of up to $125,000. 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be a resident of South Dakota with a valid state license
  • Have outstanding student loans
  • Commit to service obligation
  • Work 32 hours per week or more
  • Take part in Medicaid program
  • Get credentialed by SD Delta Dental 

Service commitment:

  • 5 years 

Award amount: 

  • Up to $125,000 

Get Started With Our New IDR Calculator

Other student loan forgiveness options for South Dakota borrowers

The South Dakota student loan forgiveness options are designed for those in healthcare. If you work in another industry and have federal student loans, there are a few other forgiveness programs. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

To qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), you don’t need to work in healthcare (though it might also qualify), but you do need to work in the public sector. Nonprofits qualify as do some government entities. 

If you work full-time for a qualifying employer while making 120 monthly payments, you’ll qualify for forgiveness. To get started, see if your employer is eligible and talk to your loan servicer about enrolling in a qualifying repayment plan. 

Income-driven repayment

The PSLF program offers a fast track to forgiveness, but its employment requirement can be limiting. Income-driven repayment (IDR) offers loan forgiveness without being tied to a certain type of employer. The downside is it can take 10 to 25 years to qualify for forgiveness through an IDR program. 

When you enroll in one of four IDR repayment plans, your monthly payment is limited to 5% to 20% of your discretionary income. After completing the entire repayment term, any remaining balance is forgiven. 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Teachers do important work, and through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, they are rewarded for it. Qualified candidates are required to work full-time at a low-income school for a total of five years. 

You must be considered a “highly qualified” teacher, which means you have a degree and certification. Plus, this program only applies to elementary and secondary teachers. 

Awards range from $5,000 or $17,500, with the top amount for teachers specializing in math, special education or science. All other eligible teachers receive the $5,000 award. 

This can be ideal for South Dakota teachers wanting assistance, especially if they have a plan to exit teaching. If not, the PSLF program offers more benefits for teachers who qualify. It’s crucial to note that the five years of service for this program are ineligible for PSLF. 

Get support 

The South Dakota student loan forgiveness programs and federally sponsored options described above can offer relief for your student debt. If you’re wondering which student loan repayment strategy is best for you, book a consultation with Student Loan Planner for customized support. 

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