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The state Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) is accepting applications for a student loan forgiveness program designed to address the critical shortage of behavioral healthcare providers by forgiving up to $180,000 in student loans in exchange for up to six years of service at approved sites. 

A free informational webinar about the $5 million Behavioral Healthcare Provider Loan Redemption Program for FY24 will be held from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12.  

Eligible behavioral healthcare providers include psychiatrists, licensed psychologists, licensed social workers, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialists, board certified behavior analysts, licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselors, licensed professional counselors, and licensed associate counselors. 

The program provides up to $50,000 to redeem an eligible participant’s cumulative outstanding student loan balance in exchange for every two full-time years of service at an approved site, for a total of $150,000 in loan redemption in exchange for up to six years of service. Participants who work primarily with children or adolescents are eligible for additional individual incentive grants up to $5,000 annually for six years of work at approved sites. 

Approved work sites include community providers of behavioral and mental health services located in New Jersey, including community providers operated by nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, school districts, municipalities, county governments, state agencies and the federal government.

Applications for the Behavioral Healthcare Provider Loan Redemption program will be accepted through Oct. 31. HESAA will review and score all applications and announce the selected program participants on Jan. 15, 2024, based on the rank order of application scoring. Applications will be scored and weighted based on the following criteria: 

  • In-demand occupation/title (35%) 
  • Geographic location of the applicant’s place of employment (25%) 
  • The applicant’s salary in the current occupation (20%) 
  • Whether the applicant works primarily with children or adolescents (20%) 

To register for the Oct. 12 webinar, go here. Further details about the program and eligibility can be found here. Questions can be directed to