Illinois adopts loan repayment program for behavioral health specialists

Illinois adopts loan repayment program for behavioral health specialists

CHICAGO, Ill. (WIFR) – Three years after the enactment of the Community Behavioral Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, the app now has enough funds to go live.

Eligible applicants may receive annual scholarships for up to four years in total, depending on their position and remaining student loan balance.

The Reimbursement Assistance Program was designed as an incentive to recruit and retain qualified mental health and addictions professionals, namely those who practice in underserved or rural areas.

“Like many professionals providing essential care services, compensation for behavioral health workers does not necessarily match the value they bring to clients and communities,” said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of Illinois Student Assistance. Commission (ISAC).

Although the program was made effective in 2019, it did not see funding due to budget constraints in Illinois.

As a solution, the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health (IDHS) approached ISAC with new funding from the state’s cannabis program. General Assembly approval and Governor Pritzker allocated up to $5 million from the Illinois Cannabis Program to support the loan repayment program.

“Illinois’ shortage of community behavioral workers creates significant disparities in access to mental health and addictions services,” said Grace B. Hou, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. “The goal of this program is to help recruit and retain professionals to provide these much-needed services, and we are delighted to partner with ISAC for their expertise in delivering grant, scholarship and fellowship programs. repayment.”

For eligibility criteria and to apply, visit https://www.isac.org/CommunityBehavioralHealth. Questions can be directed to the ISAC Call Center at 800-899-ISAC (4722) or isac.studentservices@illinois.gov.

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