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  • Summary date: Apr 3 2023 - View Summary

    Establishes the Primary Care Providers and Psychiatrists Forgivable Loan Program (Program) to be administered by the State Education Assistance Authority (Authority) by enacting GS 116-209.47. States the purpose of the Program is to provide forgivable loans ($100,000 per year, not to exceed $400,000) to eligible students who agree to practice primary care medicine or psychiatry on a full-time basis in an eligible county. Defines authority, eligible county (a county designated as a development tier one or development tier two area in the annual ranking performed by the Department of Commerce pursuant to GS 143B-437.08), eligible school (a UNC medical school or eligible in-state private medical school), eligible student, loan, program, and reserve. Establishes Program eligibility requirements for initial and continuing participation in the Program. Requires all Program participants to be State residents and to attend an eligible school. Requires the Authority to adopt standards to ensure that only qualified, potential recipients receive a loan under the Program, to include priority for applicants from eligible counties and may include minimum GPA and satisfactory academic progress requirements. Authorizes the Authority to establish a lottery process for selection of Program participants if funds are insufficient to award forgivable funds to all eligible interested students.

    Specifies seven terms and conditions for Program loans, including rules relating to promissory notes, interest, loan amounts, forgiveness and repayment, death and disability, hardship, and a catchall, allowing the Authority to establish other terms and conditions that are necessary or convenient to effectuate the Program. Authorizes the Authority to adopt rules necessary to implement, administer, market, and enforce the provisions of this statute (the Program).

    Enacts GS 116-209.48, establishing the Program’s Reserve (Reserve). Establishes the Reserve as a non-reverting reserve to be administered by the UNC Board of Governors for the purpose of allocating funds to the Authority for the award of scholarship grants in accordance with GS 116-209.47 and associated administrative costs. Specifies that the Reserve consists of monies appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve by the General Assembly, all funds received as repayment of loans, and all interest earned on those funds. Specifies that the funds do not revert at the end of each fiscal year but remain available until expended. Finds that there is a critical need in the State for primary care providers and psychiatrists in eligible counties which requires an increase in funds for four years to the Reserve. Appropriates from the General Fund to the Reserve the following amounts for each fiscal year to be used for the purposes set forth in GS 116-209.48: 2024-25 $2 million, 2025-26 $4 million, and 2026-27 $6 million. Appropriates for the 2027-28 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, from the General Fund to the Reserve the sum of $8 million to be used for the purposes set forth in GS 116-209.48. When developing the base budget for each fiscal year specified in the act, the Director of the Budget must include the appropriated amount specified in this subsection for that fiscal year. Permits the Authority to retain up to 4% of the funds appropriated each year of the funds allocated to the Authority to award forgivable loans for administrative costs associated with the Program.

    While loans are held or forgiven by the Authority, requires an annual report to the specified NCGA committees, the first of which is due by December 1, 2025, regarding the Program and loans awarded pursuant to the Program, including at least the following information: (1) forgivable loans awarded from the Reserve; (2) placement and repayment rates; (3) the balance of the Reserve; (4) recommendations to improve the Program and increase the number of licensed physicians practicing primary care medicine and psychiatry in eligible counties.

    Effective July 1, 2023, and applies beginning with applications and the disbursement of loans in the 2024-25 fiscal year.