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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
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Tools for Program Administration

Primary Care Loans (PCL)

Primary Care Loans is a program that makes funds available to eligible accredited U.S. medical schools, which match at least one ninth of the funding, and use the funds to establish revolving funds that support long-term, low-interest loans for eligible students with financial need.

Schools are responsible for selecting loan recipients, making reasonable determinations of need, and providing loans that do not exceed the cost of attendance including tuition and reasonable educational and living expenses. Schools also are responsible for tracking PCL graduates who are in residency and those who are practicing to determine if they are in primary care service.

Eligible Schools

Accredited public or nonprofit schools located in the U.S. and its territories that offer doctoral degrees in allopathic or osteopathic medicine are eligible to participate in the Primary Care Loans program.
Participating schools enter into a written agreement with the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which requires them to adhere to a number of requirements, including

  • Not less than 50 percent of the school’s graduates are either in a primary care residency training program or are engaged in the practice of primary care OR
  • Not less than 25 percent of the school’s graduates are either in a primary care residency training program or are engaged in the practice of primary care and this is not less than 5 percentage points higher than it was in the preceding one-year period; OR
  • The school is in the top 25th percentile of schools participating in the Primary Care Loans program in terms of the proportion of graduates who are either in a primary care residency training program or are engaged in the practice of primary care.

Schools that do not meet one of the criteria for participation of graduates in primary care residencies and practices are subject to penalties. For each one-year period that the program does not meet any criteria, the program must return 30 percent of the income received during the period of non-compliance.

Schools can make loans only to students who are U.S. citizens, nationals or lawful permanent residents (those with student or visitor visas are not eligible), are enrolled or accepted for enrollment as full time students in the school and are in need of financial assistance. Schools may only select students who agree to enter a primary care residency and practice in primary care for 10 years or for the life of the loan, whichever is shorter.

Medical schools interested in participating should contact 301-443-1173.

Technical Assistance for Applicant Schools

Primary Care Loan Program recorded webinar includes school eligibility requirements, performance measures and program administration

Slide Presentation (PDF - 357 KB)

Frequently Asked Questions (PDF - 126 KB)