Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program
The number of awards made through this program, as well as the individual dollar amount awarded, are subject to sufficient annual appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor.
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The Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment assistance to qualified mental health and substance use professionals. The program was designed as incentive for recruitment and retention of those who practice in underserved or rural areas. It seeks to help address the shortage of Illinois community-based behavioral workers that causes disparities in access to critical mental health and substance use services. The amount of the annual award to qualified applicants to repay their student loan debt is based on their position and may be received for up to four years.
To be eligible, you must:
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen
- be an Illinois resident
- have an outstanding balance due on an eligible educational loan (includes Stafford loans, Graduate PLUS loans, consolidation loans, Supplemental Loans for Students, alternative loans and other types of government and institutional loans used for education expenses)
- be a qualifying behavioral health professional who meets licensing requirements of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation or holds certification as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor from the Illinois Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association
- advanced practice registered nurse
- physician assistant
- psychologist who holds a doctoral degree (Psy.D or Ph.D.)
- licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
- licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)
- CADC-certified substance use professional
- have worked for at least 12 consecutive months* immediately prior to applying for this program as a behavioral health professional in an approved community mental health center in an underserved or rural Illinois health professional shortage area (HPSA) mental health discipline
- for each year the assistance is received, fulfill a separate 12 month period* as a behavioral health professional in an approved community mental health center in an underserved or rural Illinois HPSA mental health discipline and
- not be in default on any federal guaranteed educational loan nor owe a refund on a grant or scholarship program administered by ISAC.
*Periods of vacation and leave of absence provided by your employer count as time worked when calculating the required employment timeframes.
The 2023-24 Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program application may be accessed via the Program Applications & Status Checks area of the Student Portal. The online application has built-in edits to prevent errors, and we will send immediate confirmation to your e-mail address that your application has been received. If your application, including required documentation, is incomplete, you will receive a letter from ISAC explaining the reason(s) and advising how to resolve the issue.
Each year you wish to apply for this program, you must submit an application. Qualified applicants will be sent a Notice of Eligibility letter from ISAC.
In order to be considered timely, the 2023-24 Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program application must have been submitted on or before November 15, 2023, which was the priority consideration date. Untimely applications (i.e., those received after the priority consideration date) are considered for as long as funding remains available after all timely, qualified applicants have been awarded.
If, after submission, you need to change your response(s) to any item(s) and/or update any information after the application has been submitted, you will need to provide the information to ISAC. Examples of items that may need to be updated include demographic information (i.e., name, address, telephone number, etc.), and/or information about your outstanding loans and the loan holder/servicer. These changes can be submitted to ISAC using one of the below methods, but cannot be done over the telephone.
- via e-mail to email@example.com
- via FAX to 847.831.8549
- via letter to ISAC Dept D, 1755 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, IL 60015-5209
The request must include the last four digits of your Social Security number (for identification purposes) and clearly state what change(s) need to be made. These changes will not affect the application "received date."
It is recommended that you gather and organize the documents needed to complete your application before starting to fill out the interactive form. The online process includes the option of uploading and submitting required documentation. Acceptable uploaded files must have one of these file extensions: .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .doc, .docx.
If you are unable or prefer not to submit your documentation electronically, you may instead mail it via U.S. mail to ISAC Dept. D, 1755 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, IL 60015-5209.
You must submit a current loan account statement that includes your full first and last names and address (dated within 30 days of the date of the application) from your loan holder/servicer showing outstanding balances for each eligible educational loan. The statement(s) must include:
- the name of the loan holder/servicer
- the payment address of the holder/servicer
- area code/phone number of holder/servicer
- account number
- type of loan (Federal Direct, Stafford, etc.)
- monthly payment amount
- outstanding balance
Recipients are selected from among qualified new and renewal applicants. The total number of awards each year is contingent on available funding. If funding in any given year is insufficient to pay all eligible applicants, awarding will be determined in the following order:
- renewal applicants, in the order in which their applications were received
- new applicants, using the mental health portion of the HPSA database to rank eligible rural and underserved applications, giving priority to those in the areas with the highest degree of shortage (score) for that applicant’s profession. If multiple applicants receive the same score, applications will be given consideration in the order in which they were received.
- If an applicant works for an organization located in an HPSA mental health discipline that has satellite clinics and the applicant more than one of the clinics, the highest HPSA score where the applicant works will apply.
- If an applicant works for different employers in multiple HPSA mental health disciplines having different degrees of shortage, the location having the highest HPSA mental health discipline score will apply.
The award amount is based on the applicant’s remaining balance on eligible education loans, not to exceed:
- $35,000 per year for a psychiatrist
- $15,000 per year for an advanced practice registered nurse or a physician assistant
- $12,000 per year for a psychologist who holds a doctoral degree
- $6,500 per year for a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed clinical professional counselor and
- $2,500 per year for a substance abuse professional.
There is a minimum of 8 – 10 weeks turnaround from the date approved recipients are notified by ISAC to when funds are disbursed. Depending on the volume of payment vouchers being processed by the State of Illinois Comptroller’s Office, this timeframe may increase. Proceeds will be remitted directly to the holder of the loan(s) to be repaid.
Before an award can be made or funds can be disbursed, ISAC must receive certification of each applicant's employment for the required time period. Certification is provided directly to ISAC by qualifying community mental health facilities.
Note that ISAC routinely updates this section as new information becomes available. Be sure to check back periodically for the current processing status.
For the 2024 Fiscal Year
(Last updated on November 16, 2023)
ISAC continues to accept Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program applications for the 2024 fiscal year (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024).
In order to be considered timely, the 2023-24 application must have been submitted on or before November 15, 2023, which was the priority consideration date. Untimely applications (i.e., those received after the priority consideration date) will continue to be considered for as long as funding remains available after all timely, qualified applicants have been awarded.
Disbursement of funds for qualified applicants has begun; notification of eligibility to recipients is underway. The amount of the award is deducted from student loan balances and lenders/servicers will receive funds approximately 6 weeks following notification.
Disbursements will continue as more eligible applicants are certified by their employing community mental health facilities.