DHHS will repay up to $100,000 in student debt to keep nurses in Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — It’s no secret that in nearly every part of Nebraska, there is a shortage of nurses.

That’s why the state is offering a new incentive to help recruit and retain providers in rural and underserved areas.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering to repay up to $100,000 in student debt for people with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

“No matching funds are required for the awards,” said Rachael Wolfe, manager of DHHS’s office of rural health.

Typically, the state splits the bill for repayment with employers, “so it’s a good opportunity,” she said.

There are a few requirements for those who apply.

“It’s important to note that for nurses, as well as being the BSN level for the program, they also need to be at a (National Health Service Core) approved site, or a nonprofit site located in a federal primary care shortage area,” Wolfe said.

The areas of need are not just rural. Some are located in Cass and Lancaster Counties.

“Programs like this are really there to help the new graduate nurses coming out with the debts that they do have to make their decisions on where their best fit is,” said Michelle Johnson, assistant dean of the Lincoln division of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Nursing. “Is it in a hospital setting, is it in a rural setting, is it within their own community?”

Nursing programs are typically a one- to two-year commitment, and it’s not cheap to get that diploma.

Amy Fizzell, student services coordinator at UNMC’s Lincoln division, estimated the cost of attendance at $75,000 over two years.

“That’s going to include everything from the gas it takes to drive to and from the different clinical agencies,” she said. “So to have a program where it would forgive loans would allow students to maybe not work as much when they are in the program to help pay for things as they go, which would give them more time to study.”

DHHS has received at least 50 applications so far, which are still under review.

The department is exploring the idea of extending the incentive to nurses in other roles.

“We are also working on, working with DHHS, working on an initiative for our students to learn more about the role of a school nurse and what will that entail, so stay tuned for that,” Johnson said.

If you would like to learn more or fill out an application click HERE.

Categories: Education News, Nebraska News, News, Top Stories