Eligible California dentists, RDHs can apply by Sept. 15 for educational loan repayment

First-time awardees must make two-year service commitment in a health professional shortage area
July 17, 2023
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Quick Summary:
Licensed general and pediatric dentists and registered dental hygienists in California who make a full-time or half-time commitment to working in a federally designated health professional shortage area can apply for educational loan repayment through the California State Loan Repayment Program. The goal of the program is to increase and diversify the state’s health care workforce. The award amounts are determined by the applicant’s full-time or half-time status, their success in meeting the selection criteria and the amount of available funds.

Licensed general and pediatric dentists in California who practice in a federally designated health professional shortage area can apply for educational loan repayment through the California State Loan Repayment Program. The 2023 application cycle closed Sept. 15. Applications will reopen in July 2024.

The goal of the loan repayment program, which is managed by the Department of Health Care Access and Information, is to increase and diversify the state’s health care workforce. To be eligible for an award, each applicant, if a first-time awardee, must commit to providing a two-year service obligation in a California HPSA, which are designated underserved areas that can be identified online through a search tool.

Eligible registered dental hygienists and other specified health care providers may also apply.

The commitment can be either for full time (40 hours per week) or half time (20 hours per week) with the award amounts determined by the applicant’s full-time or half-time status, their success in meeting the selection criteria and the amount of available funds.

Continuing grantees get a one-year service obligation.

The maximum amounts are:

  • $50,000: Initial/first-year obligation for providers with full-time status.
  • $25,000: Initial/first-year obligation for providers with half-time status.
  • $20,000: First-year extension for providers with full-time status. 
  • $10,000: First-year extension for providers with half-time status. 

The service commitment and awards may be extended for additional years. New program applicants as well as previous applicants who completed their service obligations and have remaining eligible student loans will be considered for funding.

Successful applicants will be notified of their awards in or around December.

Eligibility, informational webinar

Beyond the two-year service commitment, applicants must also possess a valid and unrestricted license to practice in California, be employed at or have accepted employment at a practice site approved by the program, be free from judgements arising from federal debt and have no other existing service obligations with other entities. Applicants should read the repayment program grant guide for complete eligibility criteria.

Government and commercial loans obtained for undergraduate and graduate degrees in health professions qualify for the loan repayment. Loans in default are not eligible.

Applicants can watch the HCAI’s application webpage for announcements about an upcoming informational webinar and other details. A recording of last year’s informational webinar is available for viewing. 

Full-time, half-time service obligation

The full- and half-time service obligations have specific requirements beyond the minimum working hours per week.

For example, dentist and RDH awardees with full-time status cannot compress the required 40 hours per week in fewer than four weekdays. Additionally, of those 40 hours, at least 32 hours must be spent providing direct patient care in an outpatient setting. No more than eight hours per week can be spent in an administrative capacity or spent performing practice-related activities, such as precepting and teaching.

And dentist and RDH awardees with half-time status must work a minimum of 16 of their required 20 hours per week providing direct patient care in an outpatient setting and no more than four hours per week in an administrative capacity or performing practice-related activities, such as precepting and teaching.

Other requirements related to allowable worksite absences and communication apply.

Applications will reopen in July 2024

All applicants must register to use the system before starting the application. The system does not support the Internet Explorer browser.

Again, applicants should read the program guide for detailed information about the application and award processes, eligibility, service obligations and evaluation and scoring criteria. The guide also explains the background and mission of the program.

HCAI provides other loan repayments plus grants and scholarships for dental assistants, dental students and other health care professionals. Visit the HCAI website for details and application cycles for all programs.

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