Due to an aging population and a retired workforce, Maine urgently needs more doctors, dentists and veterinarians. As the Senate chair of the Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee, I often hear about health care worker shortages. Although many people have health insurance, they may still have to wait months or travel long distances for appointments. That’s why we need to educate, train, and recruit more health care providers in Maine.

I want to share some information on several Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) loan programs that help address this situation. These loans have been designed to increase the number of health professionals in our state. Depending on your future employment, these loans offer special benefits such as low interest rates or loan forgiveness. These programs can help students bridge gaps in their financial aid.

The first program can help future dental professionals. The Maine Dental Education Loan Program is a forgivable loan program for Maine students pursuing a career as a dentist or certain dental assistant positions. Although students do not need to attend school in Maine, applicants must plan to work in Maine after graduation. Loans of up to $25,000 annually ($100,000 total) are available. The application deadline is May 31.

Next, FAME offers the Maine Health Professions Loan Program. This is a competitive loan for Maine students pursuing allopathic, osteopathic, veterinary medicine or dentistry. It does not need to be a school in Maine. The interest rate is as low as 0% based on future employment and type of practice with the lowest interest rates going to those applicants practicing in Maine. Loans are available for up to $25,000 each year, for $100,000 total. The application deadline is May 31.

Future doctors might consider the Maine Medical Education Trust Medical Student Loan Program, which offers students 0% interest while they’re in medical school at least half time. The school does not have to be in Maine. The program has a tiered fixed interest rate during residency and a 5% fixed rate when the loan enters repayment (with no prepayment penalty). Students who enroll in this program receive a free membership to the Maine Medical Association and the American Medical Association. The application deadline is May 31.

The Maine Veterinarian Medicine Loan Program is a competitive, need-based, forgivable loan for Maine students pursuing a career as a veterinarian. The number of loans awarded each year is limited and depends on available funding. The application deadline is May 31.

Finally, FAME offers the Maine Loan. This loan is available to all students to borrow funds up to the full cost of their medical education, minus the amount of other financial aid. This helps students bridge the gap between school costs and financial aid. For this loan, there is no deadline. Applicants must attend a Maine school, but do not need to work in Maine after graduation.

For all of these programs, you can contact a FAME Education Program Specialist from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call (207) 623-3263, or email Education@FAMEmaine.com. When you are ready to apply, visit https://www.famemaine.com/affording-education/pay-for-school/borrowing-student-loans/student-loan-programs/health-professions/.

It is an honor to represent you, your family, and our community in the Maine State Senate. If you have any questions or need help with a government agency, feel free to contact me directly at Donna.Bailey@legislature.maine.gov or my Senate office at (207) 287-1515. I will do my best to find the help you need.

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