HAZARD, Ky. (July 27, 2022) — The Kentucky Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative (KBHWI) is now accepting applications from behavioral and mental health professionals seeking help paying off their student loan debt.

The federally funded competitive program provides financial support – ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on the disciplines and specialties of the applicants, the level of indebtedness and the level of commitment of the sponsor – to help to recruit and retain professionals in rural and underserved communities across the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH) serves as the administrator for KBHWI, which is funded by the National Health Service Corps, a federal program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . The University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health, located in Hazard, serves as Kentucky’s federally designated rural health office.

Applicants selected to participate in the program agree to work full-time for two years providing behavioral and mental health services at an eligible practice site located in one of Kentucky’s mental health professional shortage areas. Participants receive tax-free student loan repayment scholarships in exchange for their service commitment.

The current application window is one month, from July 1 to August 1. The deadline to submit completed application materials is Monday, August 1 at 5 p.m. ET.

Eligible applicants include Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Nurse Specialists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors, Health Service Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Disorders Counselors related to alcohol and substances.

Service commitments can be fulfilled at a range of health care facilities: Federally Registered Health Centers (FQHC) and FQHC look-alikes; rural health clinics; correctional or detention facilities; private practices; and a range of other facilities, including community mental health centers, free clinics, critical access hospitals affiliated with a qualified outpatient clinic, long-term care facilities, and public mental health facilities.

KBHWI is a 50/50 matching program: for every federal dollar provided through the program, participants must have a 1:1 match from a sponsoring source. Sponsors may include employers on their service site; private foundations, corporations, community organizations and/or philanthropies; and, rural-oriented organizations requesting that their funds be used to support the placement of practitioners in rural and underserved communities.

Program guidelines and all application materials are available online at https://medicine.uky.edu/centers/ruralhealth/state-loan-repayment-program.

For more information, please contact Lisa Garza ([email protected]; 606-439-3557 ext. 83490).