Federal Funds To Help Pay Off Pennsylvania Nursing Student Loans State
(The Center Square) – Members of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) board of directors have approved a program to provide up to $ 7,500 in student loan rebates to Commonwealth nurses.
The Board of Trustees on Thursday approved the Student Loan Relief Program for Nurses to provide $ 5 million in debt relief for nurses amid state-wide staff shortages and the country that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is funded with $ 5 million from the state’s share of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, money intended to meet public health needs related to the pandemic.
Selected nurses will receive up to $ 2,500 per year for up to three years, beginning in 2020. Eligible applicants must be licensed by the State Department, reside in Pennsylvania, and have started work by December 31. The program is open to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, and those who have worked in qualified nursing institutions and schools.
Applicants must have worked 20 or more hours per week on average for one year to qualify.
“Nurses in Pennsylvania have been instrumental in the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, from bedside care to educating our communities to supporting the Commonwealth’s leading vaccine distribution efforts,” Governor Tom Wolf said in September when the plan was announced. “My administration is delighted to help facilitate this initiative, which will not only give a much-needed boost to nurses on the front lines of this pandemic, but will also help rebuild a strong workforce of future healthcare workers. “
The PHEAA is expected to begin accepting applications through its website, from January 1. The application window will remain open until March 1.
If the number of applicants exceeds the funds available, the PHEAA plans to randomly select the recipients through a process that distributes funds geographically by region across the Commonwealth.
The program will make loan payments directly to federal or private loan providers on behalf of recipients, although parent loans are not eligible. Payments also cannot exceed applicants’ outstanding student loan balances.
“Few people deserve more financial help than the nurses in Pennsylvania who have worked so selflessly on the front lines to care for our sick and injured despite the many risks of COVID,” said Representative Mike Peifer, R- Pike, president of the PHEAA council, according to PennLive.
The loan cancellation is Pennsylvania’s latest effort to address a nursing shortage that began before the pandemic and has only gotten worse. Wolf granted nearly 100 waivers in 2020 to ease the rules for healthcare workers to ease the burden on hospitals, vaccination clinics and long-term care facilities.
The waivers allowed out-of-state and retired professionals, as well as those with expired licenses, to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Wolf has also expanded the number of people allowed to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, PA projector reported.
The waivers were scheduled to expire on September 30, but the General Assembly extended dozens of waivers for the Ministry of Health, the Department of Human Services, and the Office of Professional and Professional Affairs until March at the behest of administrators of hospitals and health officials, according to the news site.