A $217,997 grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to Indiana University of Pennsylvania is designed to help address the nation’s nursing shortage by providing financial support to students who commit to serving as nurse educators.

Administered by the Department’s Health Resources and Services Administration, the Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program provides loan forgiveness (up to 85 percent of loans borrowed through the program) for students in the master’s and doctoral nursing programs who commit to serving as a nursing educator at any accredited school of nursing or as a clinical educator at an accredited health facility for four years. This is IUP’s second consecutive year to successfully secure the grant funding.

“We had a great response from our students to this program last year, which continues to be an outstanding opportunity for our talented students to truly make a difference as nurse educators, and to fill the gaps in the workforce,” said Kristy Chunta, who secured the funding. Chunta is a professor and is the doctoral program coordinator in IUP’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health.

“Nurses are desperately needed throughout the commonwealth and beyond, so this funding can help to create new opportunities for students to become nurses with the addition of new faculty in nursing programs at colleges and universities and at clinical sites,” she said.

A total of 17 IUP students in the master’s, DNP to PhD, and PhD programs have committed to the Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides up to $40,000 for an academic year.

The program is not dependent on financial status, but students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and maintain at least part-time student status.

IUP’s master’s in nursing and allied health programs include nursing administration, nursing education, and health services administration. The PhD programs are Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) to PhD, and PhD in Nursing. IUP also offers a Nursing Simulation and Technology Certificate of Recognition.

IUP’s master’s and doctoral programs are designed for working professionals, with online options for all of these programs. Graduates of IUP’s Master of Nursing program, accredited in 1992, are qualified to teach nursing students. IUP’s nursing students at all levels are routinely recognized nationally for excellence.

IUP’s nursing graduates currently hold a 94.49 percent first-time passing rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. IUP’s rate reflects testing results from 2010 through 2020. IUP nursing graduates’ first-time passing rate exceeds the national rate of 88.56 percent (calculated for 2023 first-time test takers by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing) and the average Pennsylvania first-time pass rate for 2020 of 91 percent.

Annually, more than 125 nursing students graduate from IUP’s Nursing and Allied Health Professions program, which holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Approximately 700 students are enrolled in IUP’s Nursing and Allied Health Department.