A program that partially forgives student loans for doctoral students who go on to teach nursing is expanding at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, thanks to a new $1.5 million federal grant.

The grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) for the 2017-18 academic year will grow the school’s Nurse Faculty Loan Program to 130 students this year, from 114 currently enrolled.

The loans are awarded to students to help pay tuition and other costs, up to $35,000 a year. The students can then get 85 percent of their loan total forgiven if they go on to teach nursing for at least four consecutive years at an accredited nursing school.

That formula works out to a maximum of $150,875 of the total $177,500 a student could borrow in a five-year period while in graduate school.

The federal loan-forgiveness program is aimed at increasing the number of qualified nursing faculty to keep pace with the growing number of nurses needed in the workforce, said Jaclene Zauszniewski, the Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing and PhD program director.

“The U.S. nurse faculty shortage remains at a critical level,” Zauszniewski said.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014-24, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That growth is expected for several reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health-care services from the baby-boom population, as they live longer and more active lives.

The additional funding for this academic year targets only new doctoral (DNP and PhD) students, which is the funding priority identified by the federal agency for the university program, Zauszniewski said.

The funding is awarded on a first-come basis to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Loans are also awarded to part-time students.

The HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated and economically or medically vulnerable.

For more information, contact Mike Scott at mike.scott@case.edu.