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Friday, April 26, 2024
Hawaii Window Open: Student loan debt repayment for health professionals
By News Release @ 4:33 AM :: 1067 Views :: Health Care


A Beacon of Hope for Healthcare Professionals

News Release from Office of the Governor, April 24, 2024

HONOLULU  — Governor Josh Green, M.D., has announced that the state of Hawaiʻi and the Hawai’i/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center (AHEC) are receiving a tremendous response to the aggressive and far-reaching loan repayment program that addresses the state’s growing shortage of physicians and other healthcare professionals. The Healthcare Education Loan Repayment Program (HELP) provides educational loan debt repayment for health professionals licensed or otherwise certified to provide care to patients in Hawai‘i. The application deadline for the second cohort of this groundbreaking program is July 1, 2024.

HELP was conceptualized by Governor Green in partnership with the John A. Burns School of Medicine, the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi and the state Department of Health, and is funded by the state legislature to provide $30 million in educational loan debt repayment to licensed health professionals who accept public insurance for at least 30% of their patient care claims. Marc and Lynne Benioff provided major philanthropic support for Hawaiʻi Island HELP recipients with an additional $5 million over two years. Out of the first 400 recipients, 77 from Hawaiʻi Island will receive loan repayment from the state funds. Sixty-five applicants received funding from Marc and Lynne Benioff in the first round.

“HELP stands as a beacon of hope and is not just a program; it’s a lifeline for our communities,” said Governor Green. “By alleviating the burden of educational debt, we will attract and retain the healthcare professionals who are essential to addressing our state’s healthcare challenges. Together, through HELP, we forge a path toward a healthier future for all Hawai‘i.”

Retention of Hawaiʻi’s medical and health professionals is vital and HELP seeks to reach the largest group to date. In exchange for two years of full-time service in Hawaiʻi, healthcare professionals in dozens of specialties will qualify for loan repayments starting at $12,500 and capped at $50,000. The eligible amount varies depending on an applicant’s profession, location of their practice, and educational indebtedness.

HELP prioritizes specialists in Primary Care and Behavioral Health along with those practicing in rural areas (defined by the state as all neighbor islands and in Waimānalo, Waiʻanae, Wahiawā, Hauʻula, Lāʻie, Kahuku, Haleʻiwa and Waialua, on Oʻahu).

To be considered for the next cohort, apply by July 1, 2024. Applications and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the AHEC HELP page.

Roughly 1,900 health professionals applied for HELP since the program launched in September 2023. Of those, 1,801 were eligible. In December, a total of 492 applicants were awarded funds as part of the inaugural cohort.

An educational/recruitment video about HELP was developed and can be viewed and downloaded here.

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SA: New round of debt forgiveness begins for Hawaii healthcare professionals


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