04/18/2015 12:50 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015

How Pharmacy Graduates Can Get Rid of $100k of Student Loans

Graduates of pharmacy school have more student debt than almost any other profession. In 2012, graduates entering the workforce had an average student loan debt of $123,063. Luckily for pharmacists, if they enter the private sector, they will likely make a salary that allows them to responsibly pay that large amount back. (Retail pharmacists have an average starting salary of $117,473.)

However, for pharmacists looking to take on a pharmacy career in a health shortage area or another area of public service, there are a number of federal and state programs that will offer forgiveness. The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the U.S. Army Pharmacists Loan Repayment Program, NIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program, and the U.S. Army Pharmacists Loan Repayment Program are among the most generous programs with close to full forgiveness. 14 states also have programs with North Dakota likely having the most generous one with a forgiveness benefit of up to $50,000 per year for two years.

The table below outlines each program with the maximum possible amount of forgiveness offered. However, you can view a more in depth version of the table with descriptions of the programs and eligibility criteria here. It could save you thousands!

AreaProgramMaximum Benefit
FederalFederal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)Full Forgiveness after 120 payments
FederalThe National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC)$50,000
FederalNIH Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program$35,000 per year
FederalIndian Health Service Loan Repayment Program$40,000
FederalU.S. Army Pharmacists Loan Repayment Program$120,000
AlaskaSupporting Healthcare Access through Loan Repayment$47,000 per year
ArizonaArizona Loan Repayment Program$65,000
CaliforniaCalifornia State Loan Repayment Program$50,000
ColoradoColorado Health Service Corps$50,000
IdahoIdaho State Loan Repayment Program$60,000
KentuckyKentucky State Loan Repayment Program$70,000
MassachusettsThe Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program$50,000
MinnesotaMinnesota Rural Pharmacist Loan Forgiveness Program$64,000
NebraskaThe Nebraska Loan Repayment Program$60,000
New MexicoNew Mexico Loan Repayment Assistance Program$70,000
North DakotaNorth Dakota State Loan Repayment$100,000
OregonOregon Partnership State Loan Repayment$70,000
Rhode IslandHealth Professional Loan Repayment ProgramN/a
WashingtonHealth Professional Loan Repayment Program$70,000

To learn more about what private sector options are available to help graduates with student debt save, visit Credible.

PayScale 2013-14 College Salary Report