An Opportunity for Social Work Researchers: Climbing Out of Educational Loan Debt

Catherine E. Burnette, Jennifer S. McCleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Recruitment of the needed doctoral level social workers is impeded upon when doctoral graduates experience greater educational debt burden, modest salaries, and limited opportunities for student loan debt repayment. The purpose of this article is to describe a promising opportunity to reduce doctoral level social workers' educational debt, the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program (NIH LRP). Methods: Based on the authors' experiences in applying for the NIH LRP, we outline the major components of the program and discuss its usefulness-not only in its potential for loan forgiveness but also in outlining an early career trajectory.Results:The NIH LRP has the potential to provide instrumental support across multiple dimensions for early career PhD-level social workers.Conclusions:The NIH LRP application process requires the thoughtful consideration and planning necessary to achieve a successful early career experience for doctoral social workers to conduct research on social work practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-494
Number of pages4
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • academic career planning
  • educational loan debt
  • federal programs
  • loan repayment
  • social work research

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