The Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program was established to increase the number of non-prescribing mental health practitioners serving high-need communities in Iowa. The program provides loan repayment benefits for up to five consecutive years of full-time service, and can be adjusted for part-time service. The maximum award for this program is $40,000, which is paid toward outstanding Federal Stafford Loan, Federal Grad PLUS Loan and Federal Perkins Loan balances at the conclusion of the five-year service requirement.

Eligibility Criteria

Non-prescribing practitioners who:

  • Have (or will have) at least a master’s degree in a mental health field from an Iowa university. Eligible fields are psychology, counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling.
  • Have (or will have) at least two years of post-master’s clinical experience, supervised by another individual in the mental health field, in assessing and diagnosing mental health needs/problems and in providing mental health counseling services to individuals or groups.
  • Hold (or will hold) a current practitioner’s license from the Iowa Department of Public Health to practice as a psychologist, licensed independent social worker, licensed master social worker, marriage and family therapist or mental health counselor.
  • Agree to spend at least 70 percent of their time as a mental health professional serving clients who reside in federal mental health shortage areas (see map below). 

Award Amount

  • The maximum loan repayment benefit is $40,000, paid in full at the completion of the service requirement.
  • A recipient who refinances an eligible federal loan to a private education loan after signing a Repayment Agreement may continue to receive loan repayment benefits as long as the recipient contacts Iowa College Aid and provides required documentation.

Federal Mental Health Shortage Areas

  • Are designated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Shortage areas are geographic areas that can change over time and will be locked for each practitioner at the time a Repayment Agreement is signed by both parties.
  • If the designation status of a shortage area is removed after the mental health professional signs a Repayment Agreement, the professional will continue to qualify for repayment benefits provided that all other provisions of the Repayment Agreement continue to be met. 
  • The mental health professional must agree to spend at least 70 percent of their time serving clients in shortage areas.
Map of federal eligible mental health professional service areas

Service Requirements

  • Provide mental health services on a full-time basis for five consecutive years unless granted a waiver for part-time service.

Selection Criteria

  • In the event that funding is insufficient to award all eligible applicants, applicants will be prioritized as follows:
    • Iowa residents or members of the Iowa National Guard
      • Who are students at an Iowa university and are in the final year of a doctorate degree program in psychology, or master’s degree program in counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling. Students must agree to complete the requirements to become mental health professionals after graduation and serve clients in federally designated shortage areas for five years. Applications will be prioritized in date-received order.
      • Applicants in the process of completing the two-year post-degree clinical experience leading to licensure in psychology, counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling.  Applicants must also agree to serve clients in federally designated shortage areas for five years. Applications will be prioritized in date-received order.
      • All other applicants, prioritized by date of full licensure and date of application.
         
    • Non-Iowa residents  
      • Who are students at an Iowa university and are in the final year of a doctorate degree program in psychology, or master’s degree program in counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling. Students must agree to complete the requirements to become mental health professionals after graduation and serve clients in federally designated shortage areas for five years. Applications will be prioritized in date-received order.
      • Applicants in the process of completing the two-year post-degree clinical experience leading to licensure in psychology, counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling.  Applicants must also agree to serve clients in federally designated shortage areas for five years.  Applications will be prioritized in date-received order.
      • All other applicants, prioritized by date of full licensure and date of application.

How to Apply

Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program Application

Important Dates

April 30, 2023: Application deadline