ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A program is trying to keep health care professionals in New Mexico by helping to pay their student loan debt. The health loan repayment program has helped 724 awardees this year alone. That is a 1500% increase compared to last year were only 44 people received the award.

The higher education department has been able to help hundreds of health care professions in the state with their debt, and because of that, the state says they are staying in New Mexico. They say this year they had the largest number of awardees in the program’s history.

Because the state is paying their student loan debt, health care workers make a three-year commitment to stay in the state, which is helping communities in rural New Mexico who need them most. “A lot of people leave to our urban epicenters. What’s really fantastic about this loan repayment program is we focus on rural and tribal communities for our awardees. And there’s a service commitment component tied to that,” said cabinet secretary for the state’s Higher Education Department, Stephanie Rodriguez.

Last year the state had $1.6 million set aside for the program, but this year the program received $14.6 million. The state says the average debt of the people in their program is around $112,000 in 2021.

If you would like to learn more about the program, we have a link here.