Higher Education Department Offers Loan Forgiveness

The New Mexico Higher Education Department is now accepting applications for a loan-for-service program providing up to 100 percent student loan forgiveness for New Mexico residents who graduate from one of 23 out-of-state graduate and professional programs in dentistry, optometry, and veterinary medicine.

The Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) Loan-for-Service Program forgives a portion of student loans for each year of service licensed professionals provide in New Mexico after graduating from an approved graduate or professional program. New Mexico colleges and universities do not currently offer graduate and professional-level programs in these three areas.

The agency is accepting applications for the program for those seeking admission to participating programs for the 2024-2025 school year. The application closes on October 16, 2023.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved $2.2 million for the program this year and more than 62 New Mexicans benefitted from the program last year.

“New Mexico is fully invested in recruiting and maintaining qualified, licensed professionals to serve our communities in high-need fields, but there are some advanced degree programs that are only offered in other states,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez. “The WICHE Loan-for-Service Program is a great way to grow our own workforce by providing New Mexicans with support to pursue these rewarding careers and then return to their home communities.”

In addition to loan forgiveness, the Department also has exchange agreements in place with partnering schools, which give New Mexico students preferred admission and reduced tuition rates. Most students are eligible for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities or reduced standard tuition at private schools.

As a condition of each loan, students must declare their intent to return to New Mexico to practice as a professional in their chosen field. A portion of the student’s loan is forgiven for each year of service up to 100 percent of loan forgiveness.

“This initiative presents a fantastic opportunity for New Mexico graduates to receive support as they pursue advanced degree programs in fields that are not currently offered within our state,” said Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen. “Through this program, we aim to attract and retain qualified professionals, ensuring that our communities have access to essential services in high-need areas. We encourage all eligible applicants to seize this chance to make a positive impact on their home communities and beyond. Together, we can build a stronger future for New Mexico.”

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and either graduated from an accredited New Mexico high school or resided in the state for three consecutive years prior to applying for the program.