Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals
The purpose of the Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals is to encourage qualified mental health professionals to practice in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (MHPSA) and provide mental health care services to recipients under the medical assistance program authorized by the Texas Human Resources Code, Chapter 32, and to enrollees under the child health plan program authorized by the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 62.
Eligible Practice Specialties
- Advanced Practice Nurses who are board certified in psychiatric or mental health nursing
- Licensed Professional Counselors
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists
- Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors who have received an associate’s degree related to chemical dependency counseling or behavioral science
- Be a US citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident and have no professional license restrictions;
- For psychiatrists only, be eligible to take the exam for board certification from the specialty board established by THECB administrative rules during the first, second, or third service period, if the psychiatrist has not earned and maintained board certification;
- Agree to provide five consecutive years of service in a
- Federally designated MHPSA, or
- Secure correctional facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department located in a MHPSA, or
- Secure correctional facility operated by or under contract with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice located in a MHPSA;
- Provide direct mental health services to Medicaid enrollees and/or the Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees;
- Not be currently fulfilling another obligation to provide mental health services as part of a scholarship agreement, a student loan agreement, or another student loan repayment program.
For additional details, please review the administrative rules for the program.
Due to limited state funding for the current budget period, no new applications will be accepted through August 31, 2019. Current participants completing service periods ending by June 30, 2019, will be notified individually regarding end-of-service period requirements and awards for the next service period.
The following maximum aggregate award amounts are applicable over a period of five years:
- $160,000 for psychiatrists
- $80,000 for psychologists and licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists who hold doctoral degrees
- $60,000 for advanced practice nurses
- $40,000 for licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists who do not hold doctoral degrees
- $10,000 for licensed chemical dependency counselors who hold associates degrees
If the verified loan balance is less than the maximum aggregate award amount:
- 10% of the original verified loan balance will be awarded in year one.
- 15% of the original verified loan balance will be awarded in year two.
- 20% of the original verified loan balance will be awarded in year three.
- 25% of the original verified loan balance will be awarded in year four.
- 30% of the original verified loan balance will be awarded in year five.
- Must be evidenced by a promissory note which required the loan proceeds to be used to pay for the cost of attendance for the undergraduate, graduate, or professional education of the individual applying for repayment assistance;
- Must not have been made during residency or to cover costs incurred after completion of a graduate or professional education;
- Must not be in default at the time of the physician’s application;
- Must not have an existing service obligation; and
- Must not be subject to repayment through another student loan repayment or loan forgiveness program or as a condition of employment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my site is located in a MHPSA?
To verify if your site is located in a MHPSA, go to the Health Resources and Services Administration Shortage Areas search page. The site address that needs to be verified is the site where you are physically working, not where the headquarters or administration office is located. Please note: Veterans Affairs clinics and military bases are not eligible for the program as they are not open to the public.
I am currently an intern. Am I eligible for the program?
If you are not a fully licensed professional by the end of the application period, you are not eligible to apply. Interns are not fully licensed as they require supervision during the internship period.
I will not be licensed until after the application deadline. Am I eligible for the program?
No. If you are not fully licensed by the end of the application period, you are not eligible.
Do I have to commit to five years of service?
Yes. If you are working in a MHPSA, you will have to commit to providing five years of service. However, if the funding is reduced or eliminated by the Texas Legislature, you will be released from the obligation.
Do I have to apply each year?
No, if you have been accepted into the program. Yes, if you were not accepted into the program.
What happens if I leave the program? Do I have to pay back any money I received?
If you change locations and the new location is not in a MHPSA, you move out of the state, or you fail to meet any of the program requirements, you will be removed from the program. You will not be required to pay back any funds received, but will not be allowed to apply for any loan repayment programs offered by the State of Texas.
What if I want to change practice sites?
If you wish to change practice sites, the new site must be in a MHPSA to continue to be eligible for the program.
Does my practice site have to have a high HPSA score?
No. The practice site does not need to have any particular HPSA score. However, the score is used to rank eligible applications.
Do I have to only see Medicaid and CHIP patients?
You do not have to see only Medicaid and CHIP patients. You must accept all forms of payment and not turn patients away for non-payment.
Our facility does not charge patients for services. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. If you are providing mental health services for no cost, you are fulfilling the eligibility requirements.
What is considered full-time?
Full-time is a minimum of 32 hours per week.
Can I receive payment for part-time?
You can receive a pro-rated award for part-time employment as long as you are providing a minimum of 20 hours of mental health services per week in a MHPSA.
Is the percentage of the award amount based on my original loan balance or my current loan balance?
The percentage is based on the verified loan balance at the time of the application for enrollment review. If you owe less than the aggregate maximum award amount, the goal is to pay off the loan within 5 years.
When will I receive my award?
The award will not be forwarded to the lender until you have completed one service period and all program requirements have been met. Approximately 30 days before the end of the service period, a link to the application for payment will be emailed to you.