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Health & Medicine

Hawaii’s New Student Loan Program Benefits Healthcare Workers

— January 16, 2024

The state’s student loan relief program will keep workers on the island and ensure patients get adequate care.

To say the topic of student loan program debt forgiveness has gotten a lot of attention in recent years would certainly be an understatement. Plenty of debate has been completed on both sides of the issue, with no real resolution anywhere in sight. In Hawaii, however, some action has been taken with the goal of both helping healthcare workers and also strengthening the healthcare system for residents of the 50th state.

In order to provide the funds needed to help healthcare workers pay off student loan debt that was incurred, this program is going to use a blend of state and private funding. As a starting point, $30 million will be provided by the state and an additional $5 million is going to be contributed by the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff.

For eligible workers, up to $100,000 of student loan debt can be paid off. The first group represented Hawaii-based health care workers with outstanding student debt of more than $100,000 and as much as $500,000. With the funds that are available, almost 500 workers will be served with the first round of payments. In exchange, it is necessary for the workers to pledge a minimum of two years working in the state of Hawaii, as well as working with 30% of patients of Medicare or Medicaid.

Hawaii's New Student Loan Program Benefits Healthcare Workers
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Given the beauty of the state of Hawaii, and the fact that millions flock there for vacation annually, it might be hard to believe that there is a significant lack of healthcare workers in the state. But that’s exactly the case, and this program should help get and keep workers in the islands. Assuming it continues moving forward, which it will if funding is secured, applications can be submitted periodically by healthcare providers who are interested in participating.

It’s common for those in the healthcare field, depending on their specialty, to graduate and enter the workforce with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to their name. Despite the often-lofty salaries that are earned by these professionals, it can still be hard to make ends meet – especially in the early years. Funding for these kinds of programs, especially in a place like Hawaii that consistently needs more workers, can dramatically ease the burden and make it easier to build a successful career.

It’s hard to see how this program is not a win for everyone involved in the situation. For healthcare workers, the help in paying off student loans will help them get firmly on the ground with their financial life, so they can focus on providing great care for patients. And, speaking of patients, they will have more healthcare workers available, since those who take part in the program will be committed to the islands for a period of time. While this model might not be easily replicable in other states – Hawaii has a much smaller population than most – it does show what can happen when resources are applied to address a serious problem.


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