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Top 9 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

28 Min Read Published July 5, 2023
Stethoscope on top of pile of money

There’s a lot of news about student loan forgiveness for nurses, and everyone else, these days. Read on to find out what programs you might be eligible for and how to apply to them.

What is Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses?

Student loan forgiveness for nurses is when nurses get their college student loan debt forgiven by the federal government or state-based programs. These programs often require that a nurse hold a specific loan type, place of employment, or other requirements, so not all nurses will qualify. But for those that are lucky enough, they are definitely worth applying for.

NerdWallet found that, on average, ADN-prepared nurses take on nearly $20,000 in debt, BSN-prepared nurses $23,711, and MSN-prepared nurses over $47K. 

Thankfully, there are lots of loan forgiveness programs available to nurses.

The top 9 student loan forgiveness programs for nurses are:

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the federal government halted all federal loan repayments. Former President Trump initially ordered the forbearance on student loan debt and moved all interest rates to 0%. Since then, President Biden has extended the program. 

In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced that students may not need to start repaying loans until summer 2023, depending on rulings from the Supreme Court. The Biden administration sought to use the HEROES Act to waive up to $20,000 of federal student loans per eligible applicant.

Supreme Court Student Loan Forgiveness Decision 2023

As the court tended to its final cases in late June 2023 before taking a recess, they examined the Biden Forgiveness Plan and struck it down in a 6-3 decision. This decision means anyone who would have benefited from student loan forgiveness under the president's plan will no longer receive relief. Monthly repayments are set to begin again in October 2023.

What's Next for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness?

The current administration and the Department of Education are still attempting to make student loans and college more affordable to Americans nationwide. On the day of the ruling, the white house announced three actions aimed at mitigating the financial impact of student loans.

1. Negotiated Rulemaking

On June 30th, the Department of Education declared its intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee on the matter of student loan forgiveness. This process will aim to create alternative paths for debt repayment to as many borrowers as possible.

2. Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan

The current administration also announced an affordable repayment plan based on income. The SAVE Plan hopes to lower many borrowers' monthly payments to $0 while cutting others in half. It claims that all other borrowers may save up to $1,000 a year on student loan payments and ensure their balances won't grow from unpaid interest. 

3. On-Ramp for Vulnerable Borrowers

For up to 1 year, the Department of Education is creating a temporary on-ramp for vulnerable borrowers. This plan will ease borrowers back into the loan repayment process while protecting them from the harshest consequences of failing to pay:

  • Borrowers are obligated to make payments, and debt will accrue interest
  • Interest will not capitalize when the on-ramp period ends
  • Lenders may not report borrowers to credit bureaus, consider them in default, or refer them to collection agencies during the on-ramp period
  • Borrowers not enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan will receive automatically modified monthly bills that reflect the accrued interest during the on-ramp period after it ends

Free Student Loan Consultations for Nurses

The Supreme Court's ruling on Biden's student loan forgiveness plan may leave you wondering how you will tackle your debt repayments in October. To help you plan your student loan payments and seek relief, Nurse.org has partnered with our friends at GradFin to provide 30-minute student loan consultations. 

These consultations can help you develop an affordable plan for repaying your student loans. Don't wait until October to find affordable solutions for your student debt. Now is the time to take action before the bills start rolling in.

Sign up for your 30-minute consultation here.

9 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness 

The most common Loan Forgiveness program is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). 

What is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives the remaining balance of all federal loans after the borrower has made a minimum of 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer. So, after ten years of loan payments, you could get the rest of your student loans paid off.

The two caveats are: 

  1. You must not default on your loans
  2. You must be using a qualifying repayment plan while working for a qualifying employer

What’s a Qualifying Employer?

A qualifying employer means that you work for:

  • A government organization at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal)
  • A not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Other types of not-for-profit organizations that are not tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • AmeriCorps or Peace Corps serving as a full-time volunteer

It is very important to note for this type of loan forgiveness that the owner of the healthcare system must be a not-for-profit organization. At times, a hospital will be not-for-profit or serve an underprivileged population but will be owned by a larger for-profit corporation. 

If you are unsure, consider speaking to an HR representative to determine eligibility. There is an employer search tool to help determine if your employer qualifies for PSLF that can be extremely useful.

The following types of employers don't qualify for PSLF:

  • Labor unions
  • Partisan political organizations

What are the Eligibility Requirements for PSLF?

  • To be considered for PSLF, nurses must work full-time (as defined by their employer) or work at least 30 hours per week.
  • Some nurses have more than one job, so hours can be combined, but paperwork must be completed by all places of employment. Also, all jobs must be qualifying organizations for hours to be included.
  • Nurses must also be employed directly by the organization and not contract employees. For example, travel nurses would not qualify for this type of loan repayment. 

What Repayment Programs Qualify for PSLF?

To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you have to be on a qualifying repayment plan. All income-driven repayment (IDR) plans--which are plans that use your income to determine what your monthly payment will be--qualify.  

Technically speaking, payments under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan do qualify, but by the time you made the required 120 qualifying payments necessary to qualify for the PSLF, you would have actually paid off your loan--so you will have to change to an IDR plan if you’re currently on a standard 10-year repayment plan. 

Switching over could increase your payments if your income is higher, so you’ll have to be sure you carefully look into if switching your repayment plan makes sense for you. 

All other repayment plans DO NOT qualify for PSLF and include: 

  • Standard Repayment Plan for Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Graduated Repayment Plan
  • Extended Repayment Plan
  • Alternative Repayment Plan

What is Considered a Qualifying Payment?

A qualifying monthly payment is a payment that you make

  • After October 1st, 2007
  • Under a qualifying repayment plan
  • For the full amount due, as shown on your bill
  • No later than 15 days after your due date
  • While you are employed full-time by a qualifying employer

How to Apply for PSLF

Applying for the PSLF can be confusing, so the federal government has developed a specific tool to aid individuals in the application process. The tool accomplishes the following:

  • Helps you understand more about the PSLF Program and what you need to do to participate and possibly have your loans forgiven
  • Helps you assess whether your employer qualifies for PSLF
  • Helps you assess whether your loans qualify for PSLF
  • Helps you decide which PSLF form to submit
  • Uses the information we have about your federal student loans to explain other actions you should or must take if you want to receive PSLF

In addition to using the tool, here are the basics you need to know before you can apply:

  • The 120 qualifying monthly payments = 10 years, so you will need at least 10 years of qualifying payments before you’re eligible to apply. 
  • You have to be still working for the qualifying employer when you apply. 

When you’re ready to apply--aka have made your 120 payments and know you’re eligible--you can fill out the application and send it, along with your employer’s certification form, to: 

  • U.S. Department of Education
  • FedLoan Servicing
  • P.O. Box 69184
  • Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184

One note: If you already use FedLoan Servicing for your loan, you can upload both forms directly on their website instead of mailing your paperwork. 

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2. Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)

Another option for nurses is the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

What is the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program?

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is for registered nurses who work in underserved communities at critical shortage facilities. Applications are accepted once a year to those interested in applying.

The NCLRP supports registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, and nurse faculty by paying up to 85% of their unpaid nursing education debt

Individuals who work at a qualified facility can get 60% of their student loans paid off over two years of employment. Borrowers have the option of getting an additional 25% of their loans paid off by the Nurse Corps program for a third year.

In exchange, accepted applicants must work for at least two years at a critical shortage facility or other appropriate locations in the United States, such as an eligible nursing school for nurse faculty. 

What is a Critical Shortage Facility?

A critical shortage facility can be any of the following:

  • Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH)
  • Public Hospital
  • Private Hospital
  • Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)
  • American Indian Health Facilities
  • Native Hawaiian Health Center
  • Rural Health Clinic
  • School-Based Clinic
  • Small Rural Hospital
  • State or Local Health Department
  • Nurse Managed Health Clinic/Center
  • Urgent Care Center
  • Community Mental Health Center
  • Free and Charitable Clinics
  • End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)Dialysis Centers
  • Ambulatory Surgical Center
  • Residential Nursing Home
  • Home Health Agency
  • Hospice Program

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for NCLRP?

According to the website, in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness, individuals must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident, and provide supporting documents
  • Have earned a baccalaureate or associate degree in nursing (or equivalent degree), a diploma in nursing, or a graduate or doctorate degree in nursing
  • Have employment as a full-time RN or APRN working at least 32 hours per week at a public or private nonprofit CSF or be employed as a full-time nurse faculty member at a public or private nonprofit, eligible school of nursing
  • Have outstanding qualifying educational loans leading to a diploma or degree in nursing
  • Have completed a nursing degree program for which the loan balance applies
  • Have a current, full, permanent, unencumbered, unrestricted license to practice as an RN, or an APRN if applicable, in the state in which they intend to practice or be authorized to practice in that state pursuant to the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)

How to Apply for NCLRP

The application is lengthy and requires documentation from your employer as well as additional supporting information. Because it can be a bit complicated, it’s recommended that you first familiarize yourself with the Application and Program Guidance document before you begin your application.

In general, you may be ready to apply for the forgiveness program if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re an LPN, APRN, or nurse faculty member.
  • You earned your degree from an accredited nursing school in a U.S. state or territory.
  • You work full-time in a CSF in a high-need area or accredited nursing school. 

It’s also worth noting that the forgiveness is given out depending on your financial need, so there may be applicants who receive higher amounts based on their needs. 

Once you’re ready, you can submit your application through the Bureau Health Workforce (BHW) Customer Service Portal.

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3. National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program is another loan forgiveness option for APRNs like nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and other types of primary care clinicians. NHSC holds frequent application webinar Q&A sessions to help applicants with the process. 

What is the NHSC Loan Repayment Program?

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program offers loan forgiveness to licensed primary care clinicians that work for at least 2 years in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

What are the Eligibility Requirements for NHSC?

In order to be eligible for this program, you'll need to be a:

  • U.S. citizen
  • A provider in the Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Fully trained and licensed health professional in an eligible discipline (primary care medical, dental care, or behavior and mental health)
  • A health professional in an eligible discipline with qualified student loan debt for education that led to your degree
  • Working at an NHSC-approved site

How to Apply

To apply, you'll complete an online application covering your eligibility, general information about you, information on your discipline, training and education, employment verification, and loan information, as well as some required supporting documentation. 


4. State-Level Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Each state offers loan forgiveness for nurses, but the requirements, eligibility, and work commitment vary. 

Information for each program can be found on individual state web pages. Residency requirements vary per state, as do specific eligibility requirements.

Here are just some of the loan forgiveness programs for nurses at the state level. 

Alaska

Alaska’s SHARP program is designed to recruit healthcare professionals to work in specified shortage areas in exchange for loan assistance. Nurses can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan forgiveness, depending on their position and location. Interestingly, employers must match the loan forgiveness as part of the program.

California

Registered nurses who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area can receive up to $10,000 through the California State Loan Repayment Program.

This loan repayment is open only to nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives (as well as dentists, primary care providers, and physician assistants) but not registered nurses.

There is a one-year commitment at a qualifying organization. Recipients can be awarded up to three times and application cycles open in July. 

Florida

Like other states, Florida’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers financial assistance (up to $4K/year for 4 years) for nurses to work in shortage areas. Nurses must be an LPN, RN, or APRN and work at a:

  • State of Florida operated medical and healthcare facilities
  • Public schools
  • Department of Health County health departments
  • Federally sponsored community health centers
  • Teaching hospitals
  • Family practice teaching hospitals
  • Specialty hospitals for children
  • Match facilities - Other Florida-licensed hospitals, birth centers, and nursing homes must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by contributions from the employing institutions.

Illinois

Nurses in Illinois who commit to working in veterans’ homes may be eligible for loan assistance of up to $5,000 per year for four years. To be eligible for the Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, nurses must be

  • An Illinois resident
  • Meet certain licensing requirements from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
  • Have their employment verified in good standing by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs

Iowa

The Health Care Loan Repayment Program requires a 5-year service commitment in exchange for $6,000 or 20% of the qualified loan balance. 

Eligible individuals must be nurse educators that teach full-time at eligible Iowa colleges and universities, as well as applicants who agree to practice as registered nurses, advanced registered nurse practitioners, or physician assistants in service commitment areas for five consecutive years

Kentucky

Kentucky’s State Loan Repayment Program is open to both APRNs and RNs and uses a sponsoring program to match loans 50-50. For RNs, the max amount dispersed in exchange for a two-year service commitment is $20,000.

Keep in mind that one of the requirements is working full-time (a minimum of 40 hours per week) for a minimum of 45 weeks per year. This might be difficult for some nursing professions as full-time is defined as 36 hours for most bedside nurses. 

Louisiana

The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program was created to encourage healthcare professionals to serve in rural or inner-city communities in exchange for loan assistance.

The importance of this program came to light after Hurricane Katrina when there was an overwhelming need for nurses in Louisiana. Nurses who work full-time at a designated Health Professional Shortage Area or a nonprofit may be able to receive up to $15,000 each year with a three-year commitment.

Michigan

The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) is used to recruit both medical and dental providers by offering up to $300,000 for qualifying loans in exchange for a commitment to service practices in underserved communities designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Note: only APRNs qualify for this loan, so a regular RN would not qualify. 

Minnesota

The Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program offers repayment assistance to licensed practical or registered nurses who work with people with developmental disabilities or in a licensed nursing home.

The program requires a commitment of at least two years, which can be extended for another two years in nursing homes. Eligible candidates may receive $6,000 each year, with a maximum award of $20,000 over four years.

Montana

The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work full-time at a Montana state hospital or state prison. Eligible candidates must submit proof that their current loan balance is at least $1,000. The amount awarded depends on the number of candidates, as well as available state funding. Program participants can apply for repayment assistance for up to four years.

Ohio

Ohio’s Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program gives assistance to Ohio nursing students who enrolled for at least half-time study. The funds can also be used for nurses who plan to be nursing instructors later as well.

The recipient must serve as a full-time nurse in Ohio for five years to qualify for 100 percent loan cancellation. Individuals are awarded $1,620 per year. 

Oregon

The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program requires nurses to commit to either 2 years of full-time service or 4 years of part-time service in a health shortage area to qualify for repayment. Full-time nurses can receive 50% of their loan, up to $35K per year, while part-time can receive up to $17.5K per year.

This is also a matching program, so half of the funding will be required to come from the nurse’s employer. 

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work in designated Health Professional Shortage areas. Eligible candidates can receive up to $48,000, part-time nurses can receive up to $24,000.

The service commitment is two years. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program requires 2 years of full-time work or 4 years of part-time work in a health shortage area for loan repayment. For nurses to be eligible for this loan repayment, they must work in the outpatient setting. The practice site must be in a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area.

Texas

The Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program only requires 12 consecutive months in a qualified rural community to qualify for a max payment of $10K. 

Vermont

Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program for Nurses offers a maximum annual award of $6,000. The service commitment is usually 12 months in an underserved area designated by the program. To qualify for the program, nurses must agree to work a minimum of 45 weeks each year, with 20 hours per week dedicated to clinical hours.

West Virginia

West Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program offers student loan forgiveness for nurses practicing full-time for a minimum of two years in underserved rural areas. Qualifying sites must be in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Eligible candidates can receive up to $40,000 for a two-year commitment and may receive an additional $25,000 for another two years if the contract is extended. There is a maximum of four years of funding totaling $90,000.

Each loan forgiveness program is going to have very specific eligibility requirements, including the type of student loan that is eligible for repayment. You’ll want to find out additional information regarding your state’s forgiveness program as well as federal programs in order to pre-qualify. 

Taking out the appropriate student loans while still in school can make a difference once determining which loan forgiveness program to apply for.

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5. Perkins Loan Cancellation

Another option that nurses may be able to use for loan forgiveness is the Perkins Loan Cancellation program

What is the Perkins Loan Cancellation? 

The Perkins Loan is commonly used by teachers as a loan forgiveness program, but nurses can be eligible too. A full-time nurse can be eligible to have 100% of their federal loans completely forgiven if they have 5 years of eligible services. 

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

Full-time nurses who received Perkins loans before 2017 and have worked for 5 consecutive years in a healthcare professional-shortage area may be eligible. 

How to Apply

You can only apply for the Perkins Loan Cancellation through your loan provider or your school, so you’ll need to check with the school or your loan provider for the specific form and paperwork. You may need an application and an employer verification form proving that you have been employed for the minimum required amount of time. 


6. Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

There are a few different types of loan forgiveness programs for nurses that enroll in the military. One of the most popular options is the Army Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. Both RNs and APRNs are eligible. 

What is the Army Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Program?

In exchange for enlisting in the Army, you can qualify for up to $120K to repay nursing loans in exchange for a minimum 3-year service to the Army. This loan repayment program is 3 years long, and you can receive $40K per year.

In addition to the repayment funds, you can also earn sign-on bonuses for enrolling in the program. There are also options for Army Reserve loan forgiveness, which provides part-time, local options for Army Reserve nurses. 

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

In order to enlist as an Army nurse, you must be: 

  • Between the ages of 21 and 52
  • Hold a BSN from an accredited school
  • Have a valid RN license
  • Meet the Army’s physical and moral standards
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident

How to Apply

In order to apply or learn more, you will need to find an Army Health Care Recruiter in your area by calling 1-800-USA-ARMY or online at healthcare.goarmy.com. 


7. NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program

What is NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program?

The NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program (LRP) was designed for healthcare providers that work specifically to combat the opioid epidemic in rural communities. Eligible clinicians may receive up to $100,000 for full-time service or $50,000 for half-time service, to repay outstanding, qualifying, educational loans. Individuals will have the option to work between three years of full-time or half-time service at a rural NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program?

Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, and Certified Nurse Midwives that meet the following eligibility criteria can apply,

  • A United States citizen (U.S. born or naturalized) or a United States national
  • A provider (or eligible to participate as a provider) in the Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, as appropriate
  • Fully trained and licensed to practice in the NHSC-eligible primary care medical, or mental/behavioral health discipline and state in which you are applying to serve
  • A health professional in an eligible discipline with qualified student loan debt for education that led to your degree
  • Working, or have accepted a position, at a rural NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility

How to Apply

Applicants can apply via the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) Customer Service Portal website. The website portal will ask which specific loan forgiveness you are applying for. 


8. NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

What is the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Program?

This loan forgiveness is specifically to support the recruitment and retention of health professionals needed in underserved areas to expand access to SUD treatment and prevent overdose deaths. Registered nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Nurse Specialists, and Certified Nurse Midwives are eligible for this loan repayment. 

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria, 

  • A United States citizen (U.S. born or naturalized) or a United States national;
  • A provider (or eligible to participate as a provider) in the Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, as appropriate
  • Fully trained and licensed to practice in the NHSC-eligible primary care medical, dental, or mental/behavioral health discipline and state in which you are applying to serve
  • A health professional in an eligible discipline with qualified student loan debt for education that led to your degree
  • Working at an NHSC-approved SUD treatment facility with a Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) score that would ordinarily be too low to qualify for NHSC funding

How to Apply

Applicants can apply via the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) Customer Service Portal website. The website portal will ask which specific loan forgiveness you are applying for. 


9. Disadvantaged Faculty Loan Repayment Program

What is the Disadvantaged Faculty Loan Repayment Program?

This loan is specific to educators that are training the next generation. Historically, educators are paid less and this loan helps relieve some of the financial burdens. Awarded applicants can receive up to $40,000 in loan repayment as well as funding to offset the tax burden. This loan repayment was specifically designed to assist faculty members from “economically and environmentally disadvantaged backgrounds with eligible health professions degrees or certificates to serve at eligible academic institutions.” 

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for this loan, Registered Nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses must meet the following requirements, 

  • You come from a disadvantaged background. We base this on environmental and economic factors.
  • You have an eligible health professions degree or certificate.
  • You are a faculty member at an approved health professions school. You must have a contract for two years or more.

Eligible health profession schools include those located in a state of U.S. territory and either public or private non-profit. 

How to Apply

Additional information can be found on the Faculty Loan Repayment Program Application and program guidance. The official application can be found on the Bureau Health Workforce Customer Service Portal.

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Loan Forgiveness Programs for APRNs

Beyond the options we've listed here, there are loan forgiveness programs that are specific for advanced practice nurses only, including nurse practitioners, certified midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and nurse educators. 

If you are interested in becoming an APRN, it is worthwhile to both check with your school as well as your current and prospective employers to see what kind of loan forgiveness may be available.

And for nurses who don't qualify for loan forgiveness, refinancing your student loans to a lower interest rate may be an option. The new loan replaces your old one, leaving you with a lower payment and/or a shorter payoff time frame. You can learn more about refinancing in our guide to refinancing nursing school student loan debt

Pros and Cons of Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

While student loan forgiveness programs sound incredible at first glance--and for many individuals they can be life-changing--they do warrant consideration over the pros and cons. 

Relying on a student loan forgiveness program for your nursing education may not always be the best route for you, depending on your individual situation. 

Pros

Some of the pros of using a student loan forgiveness program can include: 

  • Full loan forgiveness
  • Partial loan forgiveness
  • Options for nurses who know they will stay in consecutive employment
  • Options for nurses interested in serving in shortage areas
  • Financing for nurses with limited socioeconomic resources

Cons

On the other hand, the cons include: 

  • You won’t be able to switch employers if your forgiveness program requires consecutive employment
  • You will be limited to where you can choose to work
  • You will have to work to a public or non-profit employer
  • If you leave your place of employment, you will be required to pay back reimbursement
  • Loans may not be entirely covered by forgiveness programs

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Other Ways to Pay Off Nursing Student Loans

If you decide that the student loan forgiveness program is not right for you, or if you’d like to explore other options, some of the other ways to pay off nursing student loan debt include: 

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans: These plans are most appropriate for nurses whose debt is higher in comparison to their income, because their loan payments will be lower and based on their income. Using this plan, if you make payments on your federal IDR loans for 20 to 25 years, your remaining debt can be forgiven. 

Travel nursing: Travel nursing can also be an option to help pay back your student loan debt faster. Although travel nursing agencies may not offer specific student loan forgiveness, many offer different types of bonuses, as well as stipends that can help boost your pay. You could even work part-time travel nursing jobs in your local area in addition to a regular RN job to get additional income if needed. (Just be sure to take care of yourself and avoid burnout!)

Refinancing your student loans: In some situations, it may also make financial sense to refinance your student loans to consolidate or lock in a lower interest rate from a private lender. Keep in mind, that if you choose to refinance any federal student loans, they will become private loans, so you won’t be eligible for any federal loan forgiveness programs for the balance. 

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FAQs

  • Can nurses get their student loans forgiven? 

    • Nurses can get their student loans forgiven through federal loan forgiveness programs or by signing up to work in an area in high need. Some hospitals also offer tuition reimbursement in exchange for a certain amount of years of service. 
  • Will healthcare workers get student loan forgiveness? 

    • There are many different programs available to healthcare workers to get their student loans forgiven. You may not qualify for all of these programs, but it is important to at least try! 
  • Is nursing school worth the debt?

    •  It is possible to earn your nursing degree without accumulating a lot of debt, such as attending a local community college, applying for scholarships, and utilizing loan forgiveness programs or tuition reimbursement from your employer. 
  • How can I get student loan forgiveness from Covid?

    •  There is no COVID-related loan forgiveness program, but there are Public Loan Forgiveness programs for eligible workers in non-profit and government jobs, which often include nurses. 

 

Chaunie Brusie
BSN, RN
Chaunie Brusie
Nurse.org Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

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