Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program
Be free to care
Don’t let debt divert you from your dreams.
Subject to changes and updates. Last updated: Oct. 14, 2019
What are the selection criteria?
- Financial need,
- Merit -- combining academic performance with service and other characteristics, such as a desire to serve communities in the Geisinger footprint,
- Likelihood of staying at Geisinger beyond service obligation.
What are the financial benefits?
Funding for a maximum of four years for tuition and required fees.
What does “service commitment” mean?
Service commitment means working as a Geisinger-employed physician. For example, two years of such service equals two years of medical-school tuition loans forgiven – four years of service would result in four years of tuition loans forgiven.
What about my other debt?
The loan forgiveness is for tuition and fees only. If students decide to take out loans (private, federal or otherwise) for living expenses, that debt is not eligible for the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program, nor is any other form of debt – credit cards, for example – incurred for expenses.
Must I choose a specific medical specialty to be eligible to apply?
No. However, as an additional incentive, at the time of award initiation, Geisinger provides recipients with a list of specialties the clinical system expects will be in consistent demand. Recipients who Match to a specialty on that list will receive, after the residency Match but before graduation, an additional loan payment of $25,000 as an incentive to choose one of those preferred specialties. The $25,000 Match amount is added to the loan balance to be forgiven (and reported as compensation) during the work commitment period.
Must I do a residency at Geisinger if I accept this award?
No. Recipients are free to Match at any program or hospital. The service obligation begins after residency.
What if I am interested in pursuing fellowship training after residency?
Recipients are obligated to accept employment at Geisinger following their residency, unless Geisinger approves a delay to allow for fellowship training in a subspecialty. Of course, following the period of obligated employment, recipients are free of any subsequent obligation and could pursue further training.
What if I wish to pursue a discipline not on the list provided?
Geisinger projects a need for clinicians in all medical specialties. However, Geisinger will retain the option not to hire a recipient trained in a particular discipline if Geisinger does not have a need for such a specialty, or for other reasons. In such cases, Geisinger will notify the recipient of this decision 18 months before the end of his or her residency training to allow recipients the opportunity to seek other employment. In these circumstances, the award would be converted to a loan with interest equal to the rate set for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans set annually and a monthly payment obligation over a 10-year period. In the event an Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program award is converted to a loan because Geisinger has exercised this option, loan repayment will begin within 10 days of written notice from Geisinger of the repayment obligation. Written notice will be delivered at the time a recipient completes his or her training.
Are there other benefits to the award during my medical school training?
Yes. For clinical experiences, Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program recipients will be prioritized to Geisinger sites and assigned a Geisinger clinician as an advisor for their four years. They will also have the opportunity to pursue research projects with Geisinger investigators.
Are there any tax considerations I should think about?
Yes. During the employed forgiveness period, the loan amount forgiven is treated as compensation for tax purposes. The Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program recipient is responsible for any tax debt resulting from such additional taxable wages. Geisinger will provide a schedule showing the principal award amounts paid for annual tuition; accrued interest from date of hire; Loan Fund forgiveness by calendar year; and estimated tax withholding resulting from Geisinger's forgiveness of the awardee’s obligation to repay the Loan Funds. At the end of each calendar year of active employment, an awardee’s W-2 statement from Geisinger will show taxable wages for the calendar year, including the taxable wages resulting from Geisinger's forgiveness of the recipient’s obligation to repay the Loan Funds; and withholdings taken by Geisinger during the calendar year from the recipient's taxable wages.
Is there anything else I should know about tax liability?
Yes. Future tax liability is mitigated by the fact that interest has not accrued during medical school or residency.
What if I decide to pursue a career with another employer?
Should a recipient be offered employment by Geisinger and reject it or should a recipient become employed by Geisinger but fail to complete the required employment period, the amount of the award received (and not yet forgiven, as the case may be) must be repaid to Geisinger with interest equal to the rate set for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans. The amounts must be repaid in equal monthly installments over a 10-year period. In this instance, loan repayment begins within 10 days of written notice from Geisinger of the repayment obligation. Currently, the loan agreement does not include penalties for delinquent or late loan repayments. However, the loan interest amounts will increase as a result of late payments.
What if I choose to take a research year or time to obtain another degree before completing the MD?
Pursuing a research year or another degree are possible as an Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program recipient, provided Geisinger waives the expectation of graduating within four years.
What if I must take medical or personal leave?
Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program recipients may continue in the program should they need to take medical or personal leave, provided Geisinger waives the expectation of graduating within four years.
Will I have academic performance requirements?
If an award recipient has a documented performance concern, the service award will be terminated and any award already received must be repaid with interest equal to the rate set by Federal Direct Subsidized Loans. The amounts must be repaid in equal monthly installments over a 10-year period (similarly for documented performance concerns in residency). In the event an Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program award is converted to a loan due to performance and/or quality concerns, loan repayment begins within 10 days of written notice from Geisinger of the repayment obligation. Written notice will be delivered at the time a recipient completes his or her training.
Can you explain what might be considered a “performance” concern?
Any recipient who must repeat any academic year after accepting an Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program award will be deemed ineligible. Also, the award may be terminated if a recipient fails to graduate within four years of initial enrollment at GCSOM, unless otherwise approved in writing by Geisinger. Certain disciplinary actions may deem a recipient ineligible. Also, the awardee must remain in good professional standing throughout the time period of the agreement.
Can I choose my Geisinger service location?
The Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program is mission-driven and designed to encourage physicians to go where they are most needed. For this reason, when Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program recipients’ period of service begins, Geisinger retains the right to deploy these physicians to any area within Geisinger’s health system footprint.
Are there any instances in which Geisinger would forgive my loan even if I do not fulfill the service terms?
Yes. Geisinger agrees to forgive the obligation of the recipient to repay any remaining loan funds should the recipient die; should the recipient become disabled; or should the recipient's employment with Geisinger involuntarily end for reasons other than cause (for example, if Geisinger reduces its work force or restructures its organization resulting in job elimination and Geisinger fails to offer comparable employment). Per IRS guidance, the total amount forgiven will be reported as taxable income to the awardee.
Are relocation expenses available?
Once I am assigned a Geisinger location, can it change during my service time?
Although being reassigned is unlikely, it is a possibility.
When are recipients notified that they have been chosen?
Recipients are notified after all application materials have been received and the selection committee reviews the submitted information to determine who will receive the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program awards.
How are recipients notified that they have been chosen?
Recipients will be notified via email and a hard copy of the notification will be sent to the mailing address on file.
Who is the contact person for questions regarding the program while I am a student at Geisinger?
Dr. Michelle Schmude, associate dean for Admissions, Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, or Sue McNamara, director of financial aid.
Who is the contact person should I have questions about fulfilling my obligations while in residency?
Kelly Moore, associate vice president, Compensation
Who is the contact person should I have questions once I am employed as a physician at Geisinger?
Kelly Moore, associate vice president, Compensation
Do I need to re-apply for the scholarship every year?
Students do not need to reapply every year; however, their records will be monitored to ensure they are meeting the requirements to receive an Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program award. Also, for each year of support, students will need to sign a new Loan Agreement for additional loan amounts set forth and will then also receive the required disclosures.
How do I apply?
Download the application document and be sure to sign up for the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program educational sessions. Staff from Geisinger’s legal and accounting departments will be present to answer questions, as will representatives from the School of Medicine’s financial aid team.