Loan Repayment Program for Mental Health Professionals
Important Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance
As we work to ensure the safety and health of our staff, we are committed to continuing service to our customers, but please be aware that you may experience a delay in response. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time. Currently we can receive loan repayment program communications via email only at Contact Us.
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.
Funding for State Fiscal Year 2020-2021
Priority for loan repayment assistance is given to prior year recipients who are continuing their service in the program pursuant to their agreements. Due to the high level of interest in the program in prior years and the graduated payment amounts for each additional year of service, there are not sufficient funds to enroll new program participants during the state fiscal year beginning September 1, 2020.
An update on the application will be posted in spring 2021 as soon as the information becomes available.
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
The following are primary requirements to qualify for the program:
- 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.
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, the following percentages apply:
- 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
The following requirements apply for a loan to be eligible for repayment through the program:
- 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
- must not be subject to repayment through another student loan repayment or loan forgiveness program or as a condition of employment
Frequently Asked Questions
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 must commit to providing five years of service. However, if the funding for loan repayment awards is not available, you will be released from the service obligation.
Do I have to apply each year?
No, if you have been accepted into the program, you will be notified regarding a required end-of-service period employment verification form approximately 30 days before the end of your service period..
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 state funds received but will not be eligible to apply for any loan repayment programs offered by the State of Texas. To determine if a 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.
If you have signed a contract to receive federal matching funds through the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), all financial penalties set forth in the contract for breach of contract will apply.
What if I want to change practice sites?
If you wish to change practice sites, the new site must be in a MHPSA for you to continue to be eligible for the program. Please contact our office to discuss the impact of such a change.
Does my practice site have to have a high HPSA score?
No. The practice site does not need to have a particular HPSA score to meet eligibility requirements. However, the score is used to rank eligible applications if funding is insufficient for all eligible applicants.
Do I have to only see Medicaid and CHIP patients?
You do not have to provide services only to Medicaid and CHIP patients. However, you must accept all forms of payment and not turn away patients due to their inability to pay.
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 the application for enrollment is reviewed. If you owe less than the aggregate maximum award amount, the annual payment amounts will be the amounts needed to repay the loan over a period of five years..
When will I receive my award?
Approximately 30 days before the end of the service period, a link to the application for payment will be emailed to you. The annual award will be mailed to the lender after you have completed each year of service and all documentation has been received and reviewed.