New Mexico Higher Education Department offering student debt relief for healthcare workers

Stephanie Montoya
New Mexico Higher Education Department offering student debt relief for healthcare workers

Applications for Health Professional Loan Repayment program accepted until May 1

 The New Mexico Higher Education Department is now accepting applications for its Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, which repays student debt for eligible health professionals practicing in rural and underserved New Mexico communities and shortage areas.  

Gov. Lujan Grisham approved $1.6 million for the program, a $400,000 increase from last year. This funding could support over 60 working healthcare professionals in New Mexico this year. The Department has also applied for $400,000 in additional federal funding from the National State Loan Repayment program, administered by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.   

“New Mexico is ramping up our efforts to support nurses and other healthcare professionals, and providing student debt relief for those working in our highest need areas is an important part of that effort,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said. “Providing this benefit goes a long way toward keeping these valued professionals in New Mexico and in the rural communities that need them most.” 

While the New Mexico Higher Education Department and public colleges and universities offer scholarships for students pursuing degrees and certificates in health-related fields, many working professionals carry college debt, especially those with advanced medical degrees. The average debt of program recipients in 2021 was $112,000.  

“Recent events have made it clear that New Mexico faces a serious shortage of healthcare workers.  Programs like this one, as well as the Primary Care Council and Graduate Medical Education Council, will allow us to increase our healthcare workforce to address this shortage and keep a wide variety of healthcare professionals in our state,” said Health and Human Services and Acting Department of Health Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D.  

The program covers more than 25 health occupations and licenses in allied health, dental, medical, and mental health fields. Included are medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses, mental health counselors, licensed clinical social workers, speech language pathologists, and occupational therapists. A full list of eligible professions is available at hed.state.nm.us. 

Recipients must commit to practicing in an area of the state designated by the health profession advisory committee as a health professional shortage area for a minimum of two years. Currently, 28 out of the state’s 33 counties are designated as whole county shortage areas and four are listed as partial shortage areas.  

According to the 2021 New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee Report, there are 258 openings for nurse practitioners, 154 pharmacists, and 229 primary care practitioners in the areas of family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics in New Mexico.  

Practitioners must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents, established New Mexico residents for at least 12 consecutive months, licensed or certified in the State of New Mexico as of July 1, 2022, and employed at least 40 hours per week. Preference is given to graduates of New Mexico colleges and universities.  

Program applications will be accepted until May 1, 2022, and can be completed online at hed.state.nm.us. Those interested can also contact the New Mexico Financial Aid Division at fin.aid@state.nm.us or 1-800-279-9777.