– Amber S.

I graduated in December 2009.  Upon graduation, my student loans were no longer in deferment.  I began panicking, because I started receiving monthly statements that were the same amount of one of my paychecks.  I was concerned with how I was going to be able to pay my rent, health insurance, utilities, food, etc., and just survive.  I was relieved after I passed the state exam and EPPP, so that I could apply for the National Health Service Corp.  My employer worked diligently to became an approved site.  I was accepted as a candidate in August 2013.  Getting the notification that I was accepted into the program was like winning the lottery.  I got down on my hands and knees, crying and thanking the Lord, because I felt truly blessed.  The amount that I will receive for my 2 year commitment will pay off 1/3 of my student loan.  I will still owe over $120,000 after my two year commitment with the NHSC.  I had intentions of renewing my commitment after my 2 years was fulfilled.

I was devastated to hear that the government may end the loan repayment program.  The NHSC is a valuable program for many reasons.  It assists students who are in debt get out of debt by providing services to individuals in under-served communities.  I have learned from working in a community that has few mental health providers that it is very difficult to recruit psychologists and psychiatrists to work in rural areas.  This program helps recruit professionals and provide individuals in the community with excellent mental health care.  If the individuals in our community can receive great services, it is likely that our community will be functioning at a healthier level.  I hope that the government sees the benefits of this program and chooses to continue it.  Thank you for taking the time to hear my personal testimony.