Girls happily reading their books - at Orchard Place Des Moines

Student Loan Forgiveness Opportunity

What?  Polk County has allocated $1.8 million of their federal American Rescue Plan funding to assist new or soon-to-be licensed therapists with their outstanding student loan debt (originating from both their bachelor’s degree and master’s degree courses). 

Why?  Polk County wishes to recruit and retain mental health therapists to work for Polk County organizations in their network of providers.  Orchard Place is included in the Polk County network and over the last year, we have played an important role in advocating for this assistance for our therapists.

Details?  Applicants can qualify for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness from Polk County.  Recipients will receive up to $8,000 once an application is completed, confirmation of employment is received, and a contract is signed.  Payments will be made directly to the institution where the loan is held.  Payments will not be made out to the individual recipients.   The second payment of up to $12,000 will be made in 2025.  All recipients must commit to working full time for Orchard Place or one of the other 9 providers in the Polk County Network for a minimum of 5 years.  A list of the other 9 providers in the Polk County Network is included at the end of this email.  The 5-year period starts when the applicant signs the contract for this student loan forgiveness.  If you do not stay for the required 5 years, you will have to repay the entire balance that you have received at that time. For employees that have not yet received a therapy license, if you fail to pass your licensing test within a reasonable time, you will also have to repay the entire balance that you have received at that time.

When?  Applications are available now at this link:

Note – This link is to a Google Doc - you may be asked to set up a gmail account if you don’t have one.

Polk County has contracted with Project Iowa to administer this program.  Once you apply, your communications will be with Project Iowa.    Orchard Place will be responsible for communicating the program to our employees and new hires as well as working with Project Iowa to verify employment and reporting any other data Polk County needs for its own reporting purposes.

Other info?  Applications will be accepted during several cycles throughout the year until all funding has been allocated.  If you are interested in this opportunity, we suggest you go ahead and apply now, but know that you may not hear back right away if their first cycle fills up quickly.  As of now, Project Iowa is saying that cycles will be in March, May, August, and December.  Please let me know when you have applied so I can track as well.

Note:  Other providers in the Polk County network include Balance Autism, Broadlawns Medical Center, ChildServe, Community Support Advocates, Easter Seals, Lutheran Services in Iowa, Optimae Life Services, Stepping Stones, and Everly Ball Community Mental Health Services.