The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is encouraging the thousands of nurses who have been selected for participation in Pennsylvania’s Student Loan Relief for Nurses (SLRN) Program to submit their final verification forms as soon as possible (and no later than September 24, 2022) to maintain their eligibility for loan forgiveness.
The SLRN Program was proposed by Senator Maria Collett, RN (D12 – Bucks/Montgomery) and was authorized by the Governor’s Office as part of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Nursing Workforce Initiative (NWI), a nursing recruitment and retention package that will also fund apprenticeship and mentoring opportunities, as administered by the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor and Industry and Human Services.
“Throughout the pandemic, few worked so hard and in the service of so many – while taking great personal risk – than nurses working in communities across Pennsylvania,” said Representative Mike Peifer, PHEAA Board Chairman. “It is essential that these frontline caregivers are able to take advantage of this opportunity to receive the relief that they deserve – but the deadline is looming.”
“Our nurses in Pennsylvania continue to work through the heaviness of the devastating COVID pandemic, and many are also weighed down by the crippling burden of student loan debt,” said Senator Vincent Hughes, Appropriations Chair and PHEAA Board Member. “When Senator Collett and I fought to launch the NWI and the SLRN Program, along with our democratic colleagues and Governor Wolf, it quickly became apparent that more nurses needed student loan relief and we needed to invest more than our initial $5 million. We are proud to have secured more funding to help nearly 7,000 nurses statewide, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Biden administration and its American Rescue Plan: $55 million will go a long way.”
Nurses selected for the SLRN Program are eligible to receive up to $7,500 of relief to reduce their outstanding student loan debt, with loan forgiveness up to $2,500 for each year of work for a maximum of 3 years.
All eligible applicants were sent a letter on August 26, 2022, advising if they had been selected to receive loan forgiveness through the program, which is administered by PHEAA. The 6,936 Pennsylvania nurses who were selected were also provided instructions to complete the required final verification steps to ensure that they will receive their loan forgiveness.
Specifically, selected nurses must submit a loan verification form from their loan servicer(s) for the loan(s) to which they would like student loan relief applied, and the priority order in which they would like relief applied.
All documentation must be received by PHEAA no later than Saturday, September 24, 2022. If the required documentation is not received by that deadline, nurses could lose their eligibility.
“The overwhelming demand for this program and number of applicants turned away shows how much more still needs to be done,” said Senator Maria Collett, RN, Chair of Aging & Youth. ”While I’m thrilled for the nearly 7,000 nurses we’ll be able to help, I’m still focused on those we haven’t, and making sure we in the legislature continue to work to address the student debt crisis and the host of other issues, like fair wages and safe staffing, that are driving nurses away from the bedside and out of the profession.”
Even with the additional funding, nearly 24,000 nurses applied for loan forgiveness through the program, which exceeds program resources. To ensure fairness, qualified recipients were randomly selected from the final geographically diverse applicant pool to ensure that relief is provided to nurses working in communities disbursed throughout the Commonwealth.
To maximize available state and federal loan forgiveness, selected nurses are encouraged to contact their loan servicer(s) prior to submitting the loan verification form to determine if their loan(s) and household income are eligible to receive debt cancellation under the recently announced federal student debt relief plan, as this information may be useful in determining the order in which a nurse would want to submit loans for forgiveness under the program.
To be eligible, recipients must be licensed through the PA Department of State, including Registered Nurses (RNs) and Practical Nurses (LPNs), have worked in-person at a qualifying nursing facility, and have begun employment prior to December 31, 2021. Applicants must also be certified by their employers.