Educational Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals

Money cost saving for goal and success in school, education concept

Data from 2021 shows the average medical school student owes over $240,000 in total student loan debt, with some racial and ethnic minority groups experiencing an even higher burden. Student loan debt often drives a graduate’s decision on job selection and timing, pressuring them to start work immediately after medical school.

CDC has established the Educational Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals (ELRPHP) to ease the financial burden associated with student loan debt so highly qualified and diverse professionals can pursue CDC as a pathway to a career in public health. One way to take advantage of this agency-wide loan repayment program is by participating in select CDC fellowship programs. CDC fellows gain unparalleled experience, serve in key public health roles on multidisciplinary teams, and become influential leaders in the public health workforce keeping people safe and healthy.

CDC may provide up to $50,000 per year in student loan repayment, based on the availability of funds, to those accepted into certain fellowship programs with two-year or three-year service agreements. With this recruitment incentive, CDC is addressing student debt barriers while building a diverse public health workforce that is prepared to respond to emerging threats.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for this student loan repayment recruitment incentive, candidates must:

  1. Have qualifying student loans that are federally made, insured, or guaranteed. Primary care loans (PCLs) and consolidated loans with a spouse are not eligible.
  2. Be a U.S. citizen
  3. Have a degree from an accredited institution
  4. Be accepted into one of five CDC fellowship programs:
    1. Epidemic Intelligence Service,
    2. Laboratory Leadership Service,
    3. Public Heath Informatics Fellowship,
    4. Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship, or the
    5. Future Leaders in Infections and Global Health Threats Fellowship

Loan repayments are limited to those participants with a substantial amount of educational loans relative to income which is defined as educational loans that are more than 20% of the participant’s annual CDC base salary.

These fellowships are open to physicians, veterinarians, masters and doctoral-level scientists, and other health professionals such as masters and doctoral-level nurses and dentists. See the respective website links above for eligibility criteria for each fellowship.

How does the loan repayment program work?

  • Awards are distributed directly to the participant’s loan servicing provider, not to the participant directly, and are intended as a supplement, not a substitute, to payments made by the participant.
  • Student loan repayment is awarded without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, or military service.
  • CDC pays taxes directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as authorized. The IRS considers this tax payment plus the loan repayment as taxable income; thus, participants are encouraged to contact a tax specialist to be advised of any tax implications.
  • The loan repayment recruitment incentive is subject to the availability of funding.

“The loan repayment program is a huge incentive and the program staff have been really helpful, quick to respond, and wonderful to work with. I am student loan free now which is awesome! It has been a very positive experience for me.” – Emily, 2020 FLIGHT Fellow

“The loan repayment program was a big incentive for me and a big factor in my decision to choose the CDC fellowship over other opportunities.” – Alexandra, 2020 FLIGHT Fellow

“Having the additional safety net of being able to pay off my loans much earlier was a huge bonus. It was so nice to see the money hit my loan account!” – John, 2020 FLIGHT Fellow

Take advantage of the CDC student loan repayment incentive and jumpstart your public health career. For questions, please email