Pay off student-loan debt through service? You can do that in Washington state

Seems there are incentives everywhere aimed at attracting people to certain parts of the country or to specific jobs.

In some cases, those incentives can help college graduates pay off student debt, which as of March 2018 was at $1.5 trillion among 44.5 million loan borrowers nationwide, according to the Federal Reserve.

A recent blog post from Apartment Guide, “States and Cities that Pay You to Live There,” lists some of the top incentives available by state.

The list included a longstanding Washington student loan repayment program aimed at attracting health care professionals with a three-year service obligation to work in rural or underserved areas.

There are two versions of the program administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council: the Federal-State Loan Repayment Program, which uses matching federal grant funds, with reimbursements of up to $70,000; and the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (the one highlighted by Apartment Guide), which is solely funded by the state with reimbursements of up to $75,000.

Emily Persky, policy communications manager for WSAC, gave more details to The News Tribune via email.

“A key piece of information about the health professionals loan repayment programs is that health care providers have to work at an approved site,” Persky told The News Tribune. “This means that the first step is to make sure their place of employment has applied to be an approved site.”

The list is vast and includes sites in many Washington towns and cities, including Tacoma, Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup and Gig Harbor. The list can be found at You can filter the list by site name or city.

Deadlines have not been set for the 2019-2020 application cycle, according to Persky.

“Typically, health care sites apply in the fall and health care providers apply in the winter,” she said.

Neither of these programs are new. The state Legislature created the Health Professional Loan Repayment program in 1989, and the program launched in 1990. From 2010 to 2015, the Legislature suspended the program and its funding. The program and funding were reinstated in 2016.

The Federal-State Loan Repayment Program began in 1987, with Washington receiving money for it starting in 1993. In August, the program received a four-year, $4 million grant from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, which helped the program expand to behavioral health providers.

The federal-state program requires two years of service at an approved site.

More information is at

Information about other loan repayment and scholarship programs for health care professionals is available at the state Department of Health’s website.


Among the other programs that made Apartment Guide’s list:

Vermont’s Remote Worker Grant Program (100 people paid up to $10,000 to relocate there this year.) Payments go for moving expenses and coworking space memberships, among other expenses. A similar program also is happening in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kansas is offering student loan repayments of up to $15,000 with employer or county sponsorship for those who move to rural opportunity zones in the state. A similar program also is happening in Niagara Falls, New York to encourage residency in certain neighborhoods.

More programs listed at Apartment Guide: