A program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness was initiated to help teachers, public defenders and other modestly paid public service workers alleviate their financial stresses by forgiving a large portion of their student loans. However, the Journal of General Internal Medicine released an article stating that physicians who work for non-profit hospitals or hospitals owned by the government have been enrolling in the program and meet the qualifications to have their loans forgiven. On average, medical school students accrue up to $162,000 in student loans, according to the New America Foundation.
Congress enacted the program in 2007 to boost the economy and to entice college graduates to accept low-paid government and non-profit jobs. The Loan Forgiveness program technically applies to anyone who works for a nonprofit organization, regardless of his or her income. The way it works is that college graduates must make 120 monthly payments toward their student loans and their payments are capped at 10% of the discretionary income of the borrower. Once the payments are made, the remaining student loan debt is forgiven.
Physicians typically earn between $50,000 and $60,000 in the first few years after school. Once they complete anywhere from three to eight years of training, or “residency,” their annual income skyrockets to an average of $180,000. The government and non-profit organizations own three quarters of the hospitals in America, which means the vast majority of the high paid physicians are eligible for student loan forgiveness. Research shows that on average, each physician who applies for forgiveness will be relieved of approximately $131,000 of student loan debt.
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