Tax-free grants to repay mental health professionals’ college loans

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has unanimously endorsed the idea of adding mental health professionals who a masters degree to a state program that helps nurses and physicians assistants repay their college loans.

Republican Senator Tim Kraayenbrink of Fort Dodge says,  “All the recipients are required to work in rural areas. The bill helps address some of our shortfalls and shortages in mental health in our rural areas.”

The loan repayment program is ONLY available to those who work full-time in a rural community and the state grants are NOT subject to income taxes.

Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says there’s bipartisan support for this move. “Mental health professionals — and we don’t have enough overall — but the ones we have, too many of them are concentrated in urban areas,” Quirmbach said. “I think this bill will help us get more of that type of medical assistance out to our smaller communities.”‘

The current program offers state grants to nurses and P-As and the money is to be used to repay student loans. It’s only available to those who are working in a rural area with “diminishing” health care services.