A federal loan forgiveness program for physicians who practice in underserved areas is part of a higher education reauthorization bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed in February. The bill allows eligible medical specialists with five or more years of graduate medical education to qualify for up to $2,000 of forgiveness annually and up to $10,000 over five years of service.
It was one of several provisions the American Medical Association was able to put in the bill. Other provisions AMA supported include:
Disclosure requirements for private lenders that will improve private student loan transparency,
Disclosure requirements for certain federal lenders that will make sure applicants are notified about terms of consolidation, and
- A Government Accountability Office study that will analyze the impact of debt on medical school graduates.
The Senate passed its version of the bill last July. A House-Senate conference committee will have to work out the differences before sending a final bill to President Bush.
In addition to its work on the higher education reauthorization bill, AMA continues to work with the Department of Education and Congress to permanently reinstate and expand the medical student loan deferment eligibility during residency. The program, known as the "20/220 pathway," allows medical residents to defer payment on their loans for up to three years during their residency training based on economic hardship. The eligibility for medical residents was eliminated in October as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. AMA worked with the Department of Education to get the program temporarily reinstated during the department's negotiated rule-making process, which is not expected to be completed until fall 2008. Negotiations are ongoing for permanent reinstatement of the "20/220 pathway."
Action , March 3, 2008