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Frequently asked questions

Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program

You’ve worked hard to get here. Now be free to achieve your dreams without the burden of loan repayment schedules and interest rates.

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 in primary care in  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, required fees and a $2,000 per month stipend.

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, fees and stipend loans forgiven – four years of service would result in four years of medical-school tuition, fees and stipend loans forgiven.

What about my other debt? 
The loan forgiveness is for tuition, fees and the stipend only. Previous debt is not eligible for the Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program.

Must I choose a specific medical specialty to be eligible to apply? 
Yes. The specialties are family medicine, internal medicine and medicine-pediatrics.

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 the following specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and medicine-pediatrics.

Are there other benefits to the award during my medical school training? 
Yes. For clinical experiences, Geisinger Primary Care 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 Geisinger Primary Care 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, fees and stipend; 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 a Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program recipient, provided Geisinger waives the expectation of graduating within four years.

What if I must take medical or personal leave?
Geisinger Primary Care 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 a Geisinger Primary Care 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 a Geisinger Primary Care 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 Geisinger Primary Care Scholars Program is mission-driven and designed to encourage physicians to go where they are most needed. For this reason, when Geisinger Primary Care 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? 
No.
 
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 Geisinger Primary Care 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 a Geisinger Primary Care 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 Geisinger Primary Care 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.

Contact us

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Admissions Office
525 Pine Street
Scranton, PA 18509
570-504-9068