North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship and ESA+ Priority Applications Close March 1, 2024

Submit your Opportunity or ESA+ Scholarship application(s) by March 1! Incomplete applications will not be included in the scholarship lottery.   For further assistance visit MyPortal Frequently Asked Questions or call: 855-330-3955, M-Th (8am-6pm), F (8am-5pm). *Extended hours Thursday, 2/29 until 7:00 p.m. and Friday, 3/1 until 6:00 p.m.
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Optometry Scholarship Loan Program (OSL) Loan Forgiveness FAQ

The Optometry Scholarship Loan was established by The University of North Carolina to provide assistance in the form of a forgivable loan to qualified North Carolina students pursuing a doctorate of optometry degree who are committed to practicing optometry in North Carolina.

A recipient who graduates or completes the program and secures a qualifying position may apply to repay the loan obligation through loan forgiveness. NCSEAA shall forgive one academic year of funding for each year of full-time qualified employment and one academic year of funding for two years of part-time employment. A recipient must complete loan forgiveness within seven (7) years of graduation, excluding periods of approved deferments. All worksites must be approved by NCSEAA.

A recipient who does not qualify for loan forgiveness will be required to repay the loan in cash, which includes a 10% interest rate beginning 90 days after graduation or withdrawal from the program. For additional instructions on cash repayment click on the Cash Repayment link. Should you have any questions concerning the repayment of your OSL loan, please contact Repayment Services staff at (919) 549-8614, ext. 4654 or (800) 700-1775, ext. 4654.

How to apply for loan forgiveness.

In order to qualify for loan forgiveness or service cancellation, you must first graduate from a doctor of optometry program, obtain licensure from the North Carolina Board of Optometry, and secure a full-time position as an optometrist in North Carolina. To apply for loan forgiveness or service cancellation you must follow the steps out-lined below. You are responsible for submitting the appropriate forms to NCSEAA on time.

  1. Submit verification of graduation from a doctor of optometry program to NCSEAA.
  2. Notify NCSEAA of your intent to repay through loan forgiveness within 90 days of graduation.
  3. Obtain licensure from the North Carolina Board of Optometry.
  4. Secure a full-time position as an optometrist in North Carolina.
  5. Complete a Loan Forgiveness Application form and return it to NCSEAA for approval.

Am I required to work in a designated shortage area in North Carolina?

The purpose of the OSL program is to increase the number of qualified optometrists in the State of North Carolina. You are eligible for loan forgiveness as long as you practice full-time in the State of North Carolina within seven (7) years of graduation.

What forms do I submit to NCSEAA?

Once you obtain licensure and secure full-time employment as an optometrist in North Carolina, you must submit a Loan Forgiveness Application form to NCSEAA for approval.

How long must I work to fulfill my scholarship loan obligation?

For each year of qualifying employment completed, NCSEAA will forgive one year of funding, plus any accrued interest. Credit for service cancellation is approved annually by NCSEAA at the end of each year of employment. You must complete your loan forgiveness obligation within seven (7) years of graduation from the OSL program.

What if I change my worksite?

If there is a work site change before you complete your scholarship loan obligation, you must seek approval from NCSEAA prior to the change to ensure the new site qualifies for loan forgiveness. Should you have a break in employment prior to completing your scholarship-loan obligation, you should notify NCSEAA immediately of the status change.

What if I have a break in employment?

If you have a break in employment prior to the completion of your obligation to the State of North Carolina, you may be eligible to postpone or defer payments. To apply for deferment, you must submit a Postponement/Deferment Form to NCSEAA for approval. Eligible deferments include: personal illness, Family Medical Leave, full-time student enrollment, member of a National Guard or a reserve component who is ordered to active duty, and unemployment. If you do not qualify for a postponement, then you must repay the scholarship-loan in cash. For additional information on cash repayment, please click on the Cash Repayment link.

Whom should I contact if I have additional questions concerning loan forgiveness?

Additional information is available in the OSL Policies and Procedures or you may contact Repayment Services staff between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.