Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday unveiled two new programs designed to bolster the ranks of health care professionals in the state by reducing their student debt.

One program will help health care workers in Maine repay their student loans. The program, which will be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine, will provide up to $75,000 in loan repayments over three years for professionals in medicine, dentistry and behavioral health and up to $40,000 for nursing educators.

The loan repayment program’s initial funding will be $2 million, enough for up to 26 awards of $75,000 or 50 awards of $40,000. The deadline for applications is Sept. 1.

To be eligible, program applicants must be working in Maine or commit to working in the state for at least three years. Among other factors, applicants will be judged on an essay about their commitment to the state as a health care provider and the impact help from the program could have on their career goals. More details are available on FAME’s website.

Both programs are considered new, said William Norbert, governmental affairs and communications manager for FAME, although the loan repayment program for nursing educators was adopted some years ago by the Legislature but never funded. Norbert said the money announced by Mills on Tuesday is coming from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and must be spent within three years.

He said that if the programs are considered a success, state officials will determine how to finance the loan repayment programs going forward.


Mills also announced that she is adding $2 million to the Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship program, which is intended to help pay for the medical education of aspiring doctors with the hope that they will later practice in Maine. The program awards up to $25,000 in annual scholarships to students who are attending the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Maine Medical Center Track Program or the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Students seeking a scholarship must have some connection to the state. For instance, a student who graduated from high school or college in Maine and has parents or guardians living in the state would meet the criteria for the scholarship.

The scholarship program is also administered by FAME, and Norbert said the agency provides $400,000 annually from its state appropriation for the program and usually finances four scholarships annually. The funding that Mills announced Tuesday will help pay for four new scholarships per school, Norbert said, and Tufts and UNE also will each provide four additional scholarships under the program.

“A strong, high-quality health care system is essential to the health of Maine people and the health of our economy,” the governor said in a statement. “Health care provides meaningful, important work and, as the pandemic has shown us, it’s work that’s more crucial than ever before. But for too many people, the cost of the education puts health care professions out of reach.”

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