Higher Education Department offering $14.6 million in debt relief for health care workers

Stephanie Montoya

Health Professional Loan Repayment application open until June 9 

Click Here to Apply

The New Mexico Higher Education Department encourages licensed health care professionals working in New Mexico to apply for its Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, which provides eligible applicants with up to $25,000 in student loan forgiveness.  

Those interested in applying can do so here via the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s website until June 9 at 5 p.m.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved a record $14.6 million for the program, a $13 million increase from last year. The funding could support more than 600 working health professionals in New Mexico this year. The Department received nearly 650 applications last year but could only award 44 applicants due to limited funding.  

“The Health Professional Loan Repayment Program is one of the most powerful tools we have for retaining essential health professionals and attracting new workers to New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Higher Education Department are dedicated to strengthening the health care workforce pipeline and ensuring that all New Mexicans have access to quality care, no matter where they live,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez.  

While the New Mexico Higher Education Department and public colleges and universities offer scholarships for students pursuing degrees and certificates in health-related fields, many working professionals carry college debt, especially those with advanced medical degrees. The average debt of program recipients in 2022 was over $95,000.     

The program covers more than 25 health occupations and licenses in allied health, dental, medical and mental health fields. Included are medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses, mental health counselors, licensed clinical social workers, speech language pathologists, and occupational therapists. A full list of eligible professions is available at hed.state.nm.us.  

Recipients must commit to practicing in an area of the state designated by the Health Profession Advisory Committee as a health professional shortage area for a minimum of two years. Currently, 28 out of the state’s 33 counties are designated as whole county shortage areas and four are listed as partial shortage areas. 

Practitioners must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents, established New Mexico residents for at least 12 consecutive months, licensed or certified in the State of New Mexico as of July 1, 2022, and employed at least 36 hours per week. Preference is given to graduates of New Mexico colleges and universities.   

According to the 2021 New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee Report, there are 1,240 openings for registered nurses, 70 for pharmacists, and 102 for primary care practitioners in the areas of family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics in New Mexico.   

New Mexico public colleges and universities award over 5,300 degrees and certificates in medical education on average each year, with the greatest number of graduates in the fields of registered and practical nursing, allied health, and intervention and treatment.  

Program applications will be accepted until June 9, 2023, and can be completed online at hed.state.nm.us. Interested health professionals can also contact the Financial Aid Division at fin.aid@hed.nm.gov or 1-800-279-9777.