Registered nurses in Pennsylvania could soon get debt relief through a recently launched one-time student loan forgiveness program that has already been overwhelmingly in demand. And the deadline for asking for help is fast approaching.

Governor Tom Wolf and Legislative Democrats announcement the COVID-19 Nursing Workforce Initiative last fall in an effort to reward frontline healthcare workers and address industry recruitment and retention challenges. The $20 million aid package, which received a bipartisan funding boost last monthoffers up to $7,500 in student loan debt forgiveness to nurses in Pennsylvania.

“Our nurses and direct caregivers have done a phenomenal — and frankly impressive — job of responding to an ongoing pandemic with limited resources, which makes them the heroes they are,” said Sen. Maria Collett, D- Montgomery, a former nurse, said last month. “But words don’t go far when it comes to showing our healthcare workers that they are needed and valued.”

More than 6,000 applicants to the program applied for relief, Collet, who continued legislative efforts to make program lawsaid last month.

“With each winner eligible to receive up to $7,500, this means well over half of eligible applicants could be left behind,” she said.

Here’s what you need to know before the application deadline:

Who can apply?

Eligible nurses must be licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of State and live in Pennsylvania.

Applicants must have worked a minimum of 1,250 combined hours in a qualifying nursing facility, with employment commencing before December 31, 2021, in the qualifying 12-month calendar year.

What amount of relief is available to each claimant?

Qualified applicants could receive up to $2,500 in assistance for each year of work, starting in 2020, for up to three years, allowing for a maximum benefit of $7,500.

Where to apply?

Applications are available in line through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.

The best way to return an application is by fax at 717-720-3786. The must be submitted in one document or by mail to: PHEAA PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program, PO Box 8157, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-8157.

What is the application deadline?

Applications must be received by March 1.

How are candidates selected?

PHEAA will consider all applications submitted before the eligibility deadline.

The total number of eligible applicants will be calculated for the entire state and region based on the county of residence.