Medical Student Debt

Physician supply is currently a direct result of the number of medical school graduates, but more graduates do not assure an increased supply of primary care physicians. Results from the National Resident Match Program (NRMP) indicate a relatively low interest in primary care residencies among U.S. medical school seniors.

A lack of interest in primary care fields can be attributed to various social and cultural factors; however, the biggest deterrent for medical students tends to be mere economics. The average Michigan medical student graduates with a debt of $160,000, which is about equal to the median salary of a primary care physician and causes many medical students to pass over primary care in favor of more lucrative specialties.


Michigan State Loan Repayment Program

Loan forgiveness programs greatly help medical students choose primary care specialties like family medicine. The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) provides loan forgiveness and scholarship opportunities to eligible primary care providers who agree to practice in a designated health professional shortage area for a specified period of time. The program assists employers with recruitment and retention of providers at practice sites with any Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) score, and employers are required to make a 50 percent contribution to their providers' loan repayment contracts. The MSLRP has successfully placed hundreds of providers in underserved areas, many of which are family physicians.

MSLRP receives funding from federal (through the National Health Service Corps), state and local/private sources; however, the mix depends on the year and the budget environment. From 2009 to 2013, the program did not receive any state funding; instead it relied on federal and local/private support. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the program received a $500,000 general fund appropriation.    

The final FY 2014 budget included an increase in state funding over FY 2013 levels, increasing total state funding from $500,000 to $1,000,000. Total funding, including federal, state and local/private sources totaled just under $2,000,000.


National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is a federal program operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It primarily provides financial assistance—through loan forgiveness and scholarships—to primary care providers who agree to practice in a designated health professional shortage area for two years. The program assists employers with recruitment and retention of providers at practice sites with higher Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores. In Michigan, NHSC operates in collaboration with MSLRP.

While the 2013 NHSC Loan Repayment Program application cycle is closed, please watch for updated informationfor future years.  


Additional Resources

  • Medical Opportunities in Michigan
    Medical Opportunities in Michigan (MOM) allows students and providers to search for job opportunities and identifies those eligible for loan repayment.
  • Michigan Rural Recruitment and Retention Network
    The Michigan Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) allows students and providers to search for job opportunities at rural practice sites eligible for loan repayment.
  • J1-Waiver Program
    Annually, the J1-Waiver Program allows 30 foreign medical graduates to remain in Michigan to practice instead of returning to their home countries for a minimum of two years. Preference is given to those applying to work in underserved areas.
  • The AAFP on Medical Student Debt