CHICAGO – While many hard working Illinoisans are facing the challenges of the national economic crisis, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today is reminding nurses throughout the state that financial assistance is available to help them pay off student loans if working at Illinois Veterans’ Homes. Through the Illinois Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, nurses who provide care for Illinois Veterans in the state’s Veterans’ Homes are eligible to have as much as $5,000 of their student loans repaid by the state for up to four years. A total of $1.22 million in grants is available for nurses this fiscal year.
“The nurses who work hard everyday to care for our Veterans should receive the assistance they need to repay their outstanding student loans,” said Governor Blagojevich. “I am encouraging those looking to pursue a nursing career to utilize the program and come serve the men and women who were brave and selfless enough to serve this country.”
Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program not only rewards the state’s Veterans’ Home nurses for their hard work, but is also an incentive to attract nurses to pursue and continue their careers at the Illinois Veterans’ Homes.
“As we commemorate Veterans’ Day tomorrow, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by all the men and women who wore this nation’s uniform and those caring for them. One way we can pay tribute to the military heroes residing in our Veterans’ Homes is by making sure that everyday, we are providing them with the best care possible,” said IDVA Director Tammy Duckworth. “We are always recruiting and hiring qualified nurses to ensure that our Veterans are getting the care they deserve and the Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program enables us to keep quality nursing professionals on the job doing what they do best.”
The program’s annual award can be up to $5,000 and granted up to four years. The award may only be used to pay the recipient’s educational loan.
To be eligible for the repayment, the registered professional or licensed practical nurse must:
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and be an Illinois resident;
- have an outstanding balance due on an eligible educational loan (includes Stafford Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, consolidation loans, nursing student loans, Supplemental Loans for Students, alternative loans and other types of government and institutional loans);
- be a nurse whose employment is in good standing by the IDVA; and
- fulfill a 12-month period as a RPN or LPN at one of the state’s four Veterans’ Homes.
While several states offer loan repayment programs for nurses, Illinois has the only program designed specifically for veterans’ home nurses.
“Nursing is a tough profession that takes a special kind of person, one with commitment, compassion and a big heart,” said Andrew Davis, ISAC Executive Director. “The Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program is an incentive to bring the best and the brightest nurses to our Veterans’ Homes. We at ISAC are honored to administer it.”
The first beneficiary of the Illinois Veterans Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program was Deborah Frank, a registered nurse and single mom in Kankakee County who had worked at the Manteno Veterans’ Home for 12 years.
“This program really helped me, and I hope it can help other nurses, too,” Frank said, after she paid off $4,500 in student loans.
The State of Illinois operates four Veterans’ Homes located in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno, and Quincy. Each Veterans’ Home is staffed with caring and dedicated professionals to provide economical and quality long-term care for Veterans and their spouses which includes domiciliary care, intermediate care, and skilled care.
For more information or to apply for the Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, visit ISAC’s web site, collegezone.com. Information can be found in the “Student Zone” in the “After College” section. The application can be downloaded from the “Applications” page. Applications are also available at each of the four Veterans’ Homes.