Trainee Reliance on Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Mitri K. Khoury, R. Ellen Jones, Kristin M. Gee, Luis R. Taveras, Anna M. Boniakowski, Dawn M. Coleman, Kareem R. Abdelfattah, John E. Rectenwald, Rebecca M. Minter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is an option to trainees to help alleviate federal education debt. The prevalence of PSLF utilization and how this may impact career decisions of trainees is unknown. The purpose of this study was to understand the prevalence, impact, and understanding of PSLF participation on trainees. Design: IRB-approved anonymous survey asking study subjects to report demographics, financial status, and reliance on PSLF. In addition, study subjects were asked to report their participation in PSLF, the possible impact of PSLF participation on career decisions, and to identify the qualifications needed to complete PSLF. Setting: Online anonymous survey. Participants: The survey was offered to all physician trainees in all specialties at the University of Texas, Southwestern, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Results: There were 934 respondents, yielding a 37.6% response rate. A total of 416/934 (44.5%) respondents were actively or planning on participating in the PSLF program with 175/934 (18.7%) belonging to a surgical specialty. Those belonging to a surgical specialty were more likely to be PSLF participants compared to medical specialties (53.1% versus 42.6%, p = 0.01). For those participating in PSLF, 82/416 (19.7%) stated this participation impacted career decisions. A total of 275/934 (29.4%) respondents obtained and 437/934 (46.8%) wanted to receive formal training/lectures in regards to the PSLF program. Of those actively or planning on participating in the PSLF program, only 58/416 (13.9%) were able to correctly identify all of the qualifications/criteria to complete the program. Conclusions: A large proportion of trainees rely on the PSLF program for education loan forgiveness with approximately 20% reporting participation impacted career decisions. Additionally, the majority may not fully understand PSLF criteria. Programs should strongly consider providing a formal education regarding PSLF to their trainees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1878-1884
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Public service loan forgiveness
  • debt
  • education
  • resident
  • student

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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