Frequently asked questions
Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program
Subject to changes and updates. Last update: Nov. 28, 2022
What are the selection criteria?
- Financial need
- Commitment to primary care or psychiatry and likelihood of remaining in the region
What are the financial benefits?
Funding for a maximum of four academic 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 service equals two academic years of medical school tuition, fees and stipend loans forgiven. Four years of service would equal four academic 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 while you’re an Abigail Geisinger Scholar. We don’t forgive previous debts.
Must I choose a specific medical specialty to be eligible to apply?
Yes. The specialties are family medicine, internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics and psychiatry.
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 want to pursue a different discipline?
Geisinger projects a need for clinicians in family medicine, internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics and psychiatry. This program is for students who are confident they want to work in these areas. If you choose another discipline, your financial support would end and you’d need to begin loan repayment.
Are there other benefits to the award during my medical school training?
Yes. For clinical experiences, Abigail Geisinger Scholars are prioritized to Geisinger sites and assigned a Geisinger clinician as an advisor for their four years. They can also pursue research projects with Geisinger investigators.
Are there any tax considerations I should consider?
Yes. During the employed forgiveness period, the loan amount forgiven is taxable income. You’ll be responsible for any resulting tax debt. Geisinger will provide a schedule showing the principal award amounts paid for academic year tuition, fees, and stipend and Loan Fund forgiveness by calendar year. At the end of each calendar year of active employment, you’ll be provided a 1099 statement showing the taxable income for the calendar year.
Is there anything else I should know about tax liability?
Yes. Future tax liability is mitigated by the fact that interest will not accrue during medical school, residency or employment. You may be responsible for quarterly tax payments to the IRS on the forgiven amount recognized as income in each quarter. Ask your tax advisor for more details about your tax situation.
What if I decide to pursue a career with another employer?
If you’re offered employment by Geisinger and reject it, or you work at Geisinger but don’t complete the required employment period, the amount of the award received (and not yet forgiven, as the case may be) must be repaid with interest equal to the rate set for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans starting from the date of default. The amounts must be repaid in equal monthly installments over 10 years. Loan repayment begins within 10 days of written notice from Geisinger.
What if I choose to take a research year or time to obtain another degree before completing the MD?
You can pursue a research year or another degree if Geisinger waives the expectation of graduating within four years. Scholars’ financial support is limited to four years total.
What if I must take medical or personal leave?
You may continue in the program if you need to take medical or personal leave if Geisinger waives the expectation of graduating within four years.
Will I have academic performance requirements?
If you don’t remain in good standing with Geisinger Commonwealth, 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 10 years. If your award is converted to a loan due to performance and/or quality concerns, loan repayment begins within 10 days of written notice from Geisinger.
Are there any instances in which Geisinger would forgive my loan even if I don’t fulfill the service terms?
Yes. Geisinger agrees to forgive recipients’ obligation to repay any remaining loan funds if the recipient dies, becomes disabled or stops working for Geisinger involuntarily, and not for cause — for example, if Geisinger reduces its work force or eliminates positions and nothing comparable is available. Per IRS guidance, the total amount forgiven will be reported as taxable income, and a 1099 will be issued in the year the loan is forgiven.
Are relocation expenses available?
When are recipients notified that they have been chosen?
Recipients are notified via email and regular mail after the selection committee reviews applications.
Is the curriculum different for scholars?
The curriculum is the same for all students. But Abigail Geisinger Scholars can shadow in Geisinger signature programs such as 65 Forward, the Fresh Food Farmacy, Geisinger at Home, the MyCode Community Health Initiative and Community Care FQHC look alike. We do plan to increase our emphasis on primary care for all students, and we offer a Primary Care 3+3 Accelerated Program.
How does the medicine-pediatrics specialty work?
The residency programs in internal medicine and pediatrics are three years long and allow for board certification. The residency in medicine-pediatrics covers both specialties in four years, leading to board certification in both. Scholars who pursue a med-peds residency will be expected to provide patient care across all ages.
If you do your residency at Geisinger, does that count toward your service?
No — residency is still part of your training, not your service.
Once you become a Geisinger physician after residency, would your salary be comparable to a first-year attending in that specialty?
Yes, base salary is competitive with clinics and healthcare systems. Geisinger benchmarks to national survey data and the healthcare system shares data with 61 clinics nationwide to be able to offer some of the most competitive salaries. Salaries will be comparable to other non-scholar Geisinger employees based on their years of experience.
Do recipients receive any preference if applying for a residency with Geisinger?
Yes, but the residency Match prohibits guaranteeing positions in residency programs.
How does being an Abigail Geisinger Scholar impact regional campus selection?
Scholars are given priority to a Geisinger clinical site, but they may indicate a preference for the Guthrie Campus. Geisinger Commonwealth uses a lottery system for campus assignment. You’ll receive your assignment before orientation.
Whom should I contact with questions before I enroll?
- Admissions: Dr. Michelle Schmude, associate provost for Admissions, Enrollment Management and Financial Aid
- Financial Aid: Sue McNamara, director of Financial Aid
Whom should I contact if I have questions once I’m enrolled?
Do I need to re-apply every year?
No, but scholars’ academic progress is monitored to make sure they’re meeting program requirements. For each year of support, you’ll also need to sign a new loan agreement.
How do I apply?
- Submit an American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) primary application and Geisinger Commonwealth secondary application;
- Answer “yes” to the first question on the Geisinger Commonwealth secondary application regarding interest in applying for the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program;
- Complete the question regarding primary care and provide any updates to your experiences that align with the Abigail Geisinger Scholars Program.
- Be sure to sign up for the Abigail Geisinger Scholars educational session.
- You can also learn more by attending one of our MD admissions events.
Are there tax implications from receiving the monthly stipend or the service award for select specialties?
This income will be considered taxable in the year the loan amount is forgiven. Ask your tax advisor for more details about your tax situation.
Will I receive a stipend during the summer?
Yes, you’ll receive a monthly $2,000 stipend beginning Aug. 15 of your first year and ending when you complete medical school (up to four years).
Can a scholar be employed part-time at Geisinger Commonwealth while receiving the monthly stipend?
Yes, students can receive supplemental income from Geisinger Commonwealth or Geisinger for services unrelated to the scholar program.
How will the "payback years" look in terms of pay, maternity leave, etc.?
Each scholar will receive their final amortization schedule during their first month of employment at Geisinger. The taxable portion of the loan forgiveness will be included on a 1099 at the end of each calendar year. Parental leave and vacation policies are applicable to all Geisinger employees regardless of scholar status as defined in the Geisinger HR handbook.
Will I have a voice in my work schedule and location?
Scholars are expected to work full-time. Geisinger tries to match scholars to their preferred locations and interests, but the final decision is based on Geisinger’s needs. You can request relocation, but it’s not guaranteed — just like it wouldn’t be guaranteed for any other physician. Geisinger may also ask you to transfer to a different location, based on staffing needs.
Can I pursue a fellowship after my four-year commitment to primary care or psychiatry?
This program is designed to encourage scholars to stay in primary care or psychiatry. If you choose to pursue a fellowship, you can only do it after you complete your service obligation to Geisinger.