The Office of Financial Aid is here to assist students and residents with understanding their finances and accessing financial resources during all phases of their medical education. For residents and fellows, this includes loan forgiveness and loan repayment programs.
According to the AAMC, approximately 75% of 2020 medical school graduates borrowed student loans, and the median debt was $200,000 (October 2020, AAMC Education Debt Fact Card). It is important to understand loan repayment options, select an appropriate plan, and balance student loan repayment with other financial goals and obligations.
In addition to providing the basic information below, staff in the Office of Financial Aid are available to meet with residents and fellows.
Neither Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine nor its employees provide financial guidance or tax advice to residents and fellows, their parents, or any other taxpayer in any of our offices or on our website. Any examples, illustrations, or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding tax questions are intended to be illustrative in nature only and cannot be construed as tax advice or relied on for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. Students and other taxpayers should seek guidance on all tax-related questions from a qualified tax professional who can evaluate specific circumstances when providing tax advice.
The office is located in the Office of Student Affairs suite on the second floor of the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus. Residents are encouraged to email, call, or schedule a Microsoft Teams meeting for any questions or concerns.
Federal Loan Repayment Options
There are several repayment plans available to help manage repayment of student loans. Depending on the plan, the repayment period can be extended, or the monthly payment can be established according to household income. Payments made under income-driven plans may qualify for Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness PSLF) explained below.
Federal Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, and Consolidation loans borrowed prior to July 1, 2010 may have been under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or the Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP). Since July 1, 2010, these loans have been made under the Federal Direct Loan Program only.
Some repayment and loan forgiveness plans apply only to Direct Loans. Borrowers with FFELP loans who wish to qualify for a Direct Loan repayment or forgiveness plan may choose to consolidate those loans into a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. The benefits must be weighed against the higher cost of repaying a consolidation loan.
Repayment Options Include:
- Standard: Up to 10 years to repay. Fixed monthly payments. This plan is available for FFELP and FDLP loans.
- Graduated Repayment: Up to 10 years to repay. Fixed monthly payments that start lower and then are increased every 2 years. This plan is available for FFELP and FDLP loans.
- Extended Repayment: Up to 25 years to repay. Monthly payments can be fixed or graduated. This plan is available for FFELP and FDLP loans.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR): Up to 25 years to repay. Maximum monthly payments calculated at 15 percent of discretionary income. Discretionary income is the difference between adjusted gross income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for family size and state of residence (other conditions apply). This plan is available for FFELP and FDLP borrowers but excludes Parent PLUS Loans. Remaining balance after 25 years of repayment may be eligible for forgiveness. Amount forgiven may be subject to income tax.
- Pay as You Earn (PAYE) Repayment: Up to 20 years to repay. Maximum monthly payments calculated at 10 percent of discretionary income. Discretionary income is the difference between adjusted gross income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for family size and state of residence (other conditions apply). This plan is available for FDLP loans including FDLP Consolidation Loans. Remaining balance after 20 years of repayment may be eligible for forgiveness. Amount forgiven may be subject to income tax.
- Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) Similar to the PAYE Repayment plan, REPAYE maximum monthly payments are calculated at 10 percent of discretionary income, but the plan allows up to 25 years to repay. Discretionary income is the difference between adjusted gross income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for family size and state of residence (other conditions apply). This plan is available for FDLP loans including FDLP Consolidation Loans. Remaining balance after 25 years of repayment may be eligible for forgiveness. Amount forgiven may be subject to income tax.
- Income Contingent Repayment: Up to 25 years to repay. Payments are calculated annually based on adjusted gross income, family size, and total amount of Direct Loans. This plan is available for FDLP loans including FDLP Consolidation Loans. Remaining balance after 25 years of repayment may be eligible for forgiveness. Amount forgiven may be subject to income tax.
- Income Sensitive Repayment: Up to 10 years. Payments are calculated annually based on adjusted gross income. This plan is available for FFELP loans. Payment calculation is set by individual lender.
Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Programs
The AAMC maintains a searchable database of state and federal loan repayment/forgiveness and scholarship programs.
Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal student aid program that forgives the remaining balance on qualifying Federal Direct Loans for borrowers employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit who have made 120 payments on those loans (after October 1, 2007). The loans must not be in default to be eligible for forgiveness.
- Loans must be received under the Federal Direct Loan Program. Federal loans not received under the Federal Direct Loan Program may be consolidated to qualify.
- Payments must be made while employed full time by the qualifying employer.
- Government organizations at any level (U.S. federal, state, local or tribal), or
- Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
- WMed is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, and therefore is a qualifying PSLF employer.
- Payments must be made on time under a qualifying repayment plan (an income-driven plan) for the full amount due and no later than 15 days after the due date.
PSLF Process: Steps to Take
- Log in to the PSLF Help Tool with you FSA ID as studentaid.gov. Your loan information will be downloaded to the PSLF Help Tool.
- Does your employer qualify for PSLF? WMed is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization and therefore is a qualifying PSLF employer.
- Do your loans qualify and are you on a qualifying repayment plan? The PSLF Help Tool will guide you through the eligibility process.
- Print the PSLF Employment Certification Form that has been generated. Sign the form* and submit it to HRMail@med.wmich.edu. Once returned from HR, mail or fax the form to the U.S. Department of Education per instructions in the PSLF Help Tool.
*Typed signatures and digital certificate-based signatures are not allowed. Please visit How to Submit the PSLF Form section at studentaid.gov for more information.
What Happens Next?
U.S. Department of Education and FedLoan Servicing
- Your submitted form will be reviewed by FedLoan Servicing.
- FedLoan Servicing certifies eligibility.
- Federal Direct Loans managed by another servicer will be transferred to FedLoan Servicing.
- FedLoan Servicing will determine the number of qualifying payments made and send you a notice.
- Submit an Employer Certification Form annually, or when you change employers.
- Make payments on time.
- Make payments in full as shown on your bill.
- Review your progress on the PSLF Tool regularly.
- After your 120th qualifying payment, submit PSLF Certification for review.
Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP)
Application period begins March 1
You can apply to the MSLRP in your final year of residency once you have an employment agreement to start work no later than October 1.
You must be a U.S. citizen to participate. You will find more information on eligibility requirements, selection criteria, application forms and instructions on how to apply on the MSLRP website. (You will complete Provider Applications A & B, and your employer will complete the Practice Site Application). All application forms must be mailed together in a single envelope.
The MSLRP requires providers to work at HPSA-eligible practice sites, but does not consider HPSA scores when awarding loan repayment contracts. More information on job search resources, including a link to the federal website identifying practice sites in HPSA eligible for loan repayment can be found on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website. The website provides each practice site's HPSA score to assist in determining the likelihood of an NHSC loan repayment contract.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program
The annual application period begins in early 2021
The NHSC loan repayment program does not require an employer contribution but targets practice sites with higher HPSA scores denoting more severe provider shortages.
Applying to both MSLRP and NHSC Loan Repayment Programs?
Applications can be submitted to both the NHSC and MSLRP, but participation can be in only one program at a time. If applying for both programs, MSLRP may send a contract offer first. Applicants must be ready to accept or decline the MSLRP contract when it is offered.
Educational Benefits for Veterans
Education programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill® provide financial support for education and housing. Recipients must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This may cover some, but not all, of the costs for additional education.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
Veterans Affairs Education Debt Repayment and Loan Forgiveness
Opportunities exist for loan repayment and forgiveness for health care providers who are employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- AAMC resources for residents
- Fact Sheets that provide clear and concise information on topics such as repayment options, borrowing residency/relocation loans, tips for transitioning to residency, and many more, designed specifically for residents.
- A financial wellness program that offers financial calculators, financial health assessment, online courses and opportunities to create financial goals and a spending plan.
- Medloans® Organizer and Calculator which enables residents to download or enter student loan information, compare repayment plan options, and calculate potential federal loan forgiveness.
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness
- Federal Student Loan Repayment
- Fedloan Servicing (to start tracking Public Service Loan Forgiveness)