The Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program was established to address critical doctor shortages in rural Iowa communities. The program provides loan repayment incentives to individuals that practice in specified locations for up to five years. The maximum award for this program is $200,000, which is paid in five increments toward outstanding Federal Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, Graduate PLUS and Perkins Loan balances at the end of each 12 month employment period. A recipient who refinances an eligible federal loan to a private education loan after signing a contract may continue to receive loan repayment benefits as long as the recipient contacts Iowa College Aid and provides required documentation. 

Primary Care Loan Repayment Fact Sheet (pdf)

Eligibility Criteria

A student is eligible to apply to enter into a program agreement if he or she:

  • Attends the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine or the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
  • Is enrolled full-time in a program leading to a doctor of medicine degree or a doctor of osteopathy degree.
  • Matches to an eligible residency program.
  • Receives a recommendation from his or her college contact.
  • A limited number of applicants will be recommended to complete the agreement.

Program Agreement

A student who meets the above eligibility requirements must sign an agreement in the final year of his or her program of study agreeing to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Matriculate in and graduate from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine or the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
  • Complete an eligible residency program
  • Become licensed and employed in the practice of medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery, specializing in family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, or general surgery within nine months of completing residency.
  • Work for a minimum of 5 consecutive years in an eligible service commitment area following completion of residency.

Service Commitment Area

An eligible service commitment area is:

  • An Iowa city within a federal mental health shortage area as designated by the United States department of health and human services, if the physician specializes in psychiatry.  Find current mental health shortage areas in Iowa.
  • An Iowa city with a population less than 26,000 located more than 20 miles from a city with a population of at least 50,000 (see map below).
  • Service commitment areas must provide a $20,000 matching contribution to a trust fund held by the state of Iowa that will fund future recipient awards

Upon receipt of an Iowa license and secured employment, loan repayment awards will be paid directly to the student loan lender. Up to $40,000 can be paid annually to eligible student loan balances for up to five years. Federal loans eligible for repayment include all Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, Graduate PLUS and Perkins Loans. Priority will be given to eligible students who are residents of Iowa. If an applicant signs an agreement but fails to meet the program criteria prior to receiving a loan repayment award, the applicant has no further employment requirement under the agreement. Details on the taxability of loan repayment benefits can be found on the IRS website.

Eligible service commitment areas