Demand for Pennsylvania's nursing loan forgiveness exceeds funds

More than 4,800 nurses have applied for a one-time student loan forgiveness program for licensed nurses in Pennsylvania, prompting state policymakers to ask for an increase in the amount of funding allocated for the program, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported Jan. 24. 

Five notes: 

1. Currently, there's about $5 million in debt relief dedicated to the commonwealth's Student Loan Relief for Nurses program. 

2. Several thousand more have expressed interest in applying, prompting policymakers to ask for more program funding to make it available to more nurses. Applications are being accepted through March 1. 

3. The program provides eligible nurses up to $7,500 in student loan forgiveness. If each nurse who has applied were to receive the maximum amount, just 666 nurses would receive relief. "It's clear the demand for this program will far exceed the available $5 million in funding," said Elizabeth McCloud, vice president of state grant and special programs at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, which is responsible for administering the program, according to the news outlet. 

4. The program is limited to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives who are registered nurses. Nurses must have started employment before Dec. 31, 2021, at a Pennsylvania facility that provides direct patient care. 

5. Maria Collett, a Pennsylvania state senator who introduced the idea for the program to Gov. Tom Wolf, said, "I hope the number of interested applicants sends a loud message to our legislature that the [Student Loan Relief for Nurses] program should be expanded to benefit as many hardworking Pennsylvania nurses as possible." A spokesperson for the governor told the Gazette Mr. Wolf supports lawmakers' call to increase the funds. 

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