New Yorkers with ‘crippling debt’ in behavioral health fields can now apply for up to $50,000 in student-loan forgiveness

  • NYC launched a student-loan forgiveness program for behavioral health workers.
  • To qualify, the workers must be employed at NYC Health + Hospitals for at least three years.
  • The program will close when it reaches $1 million in student loans forgiven.

Student-loan relief might be on the horizon for New Yorkers employed in behavioral health.

On Monday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers within NYC Health + Hospitals can now apply for a program that could grant them up to $50,000 in student-loan forgiveness. This program was made possible by a $1 million anonymous contribution, according to the press release, and is intended to retain behavioral health workers amid a national mental health worker shortage.

 “Too often, these health care workers graduate with crippling debt and have no choice but to work in the private sector to pay off their bills,” Adams said in a statement. “Especially at a time when the nation is facing a shortage of these lifesaving practitioners, and simultaneously facing an increased need for these professional due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this loan forgiveness program will help us attract and retain top talent to continue serving New Yorkers across the city.”

Applications opened on Monday and are reviewed on a rolling basis on the second and last Friday of each month. The program will end when it reaches $1 million in loans forgiven. If you meet these requirements, then you qualify for the program:

  • Are licensed or board-certified within five years of completing training
  • Are committed to working full-time for NYC Health + Hospitals for at least 3 years
  • Are a physician with a minimum of $50,000 in student debt
  • Are a non-physician clinician with a minimum of $30,000 in student debt
  • Are not receiving, or enrolled in, a different loan forgiveness program
  • And have never received loan forgiveness through NYC Health + Hospitals.

As the press release noted, early-career psychiatrists have $190,000 on average in student debt from medical school, and it’s unlikely they would be included in President Joe Biden’s broad student-loan relief plans because graduate students have not been at the center of his proposal. Recent reports have suggested he is considering $10,000 in loan forgiveness for undergraduates making under $150,000 a year, and the decision is set to be announced before the student-loan payment pause expires on August 31. 

Along with this program, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has previously taken steps to ease the student-loan burden for New Yorkers. In January, Hochul highlighted plans to to make loan forgiveness more accessible by offering free tuition for students in healthcare, automating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program “as much as possible,” and banning transcript withholding from students who owe fees to their school. 

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