A nursing education can come with a pretty hefty loan balance. While nursing is an in-demand career, paying off those loans can still be tricky.
The good news is that health care providers have plenty of options for forgiveness or repayment programs. And if those don’t work for you, we’ll close out this article with five other options to pay your loans off as quickly as possible.
Because being buried under student loan debt makes it hard to care for others.
Student loan forgiveness for nurses
There are many student loan forgiveness programs for nurses and other health care providers. The two most well-known are the nurse corps loan repayment program and public service loan forgiveness.
Nurse corps loan repayment program
The nurse corps loan repayment program is an excellent way to repay your student loans for nurses that qualify and are willing and able to put in the time required. The award aims to address the shortage of nurse faculty as well as nurses in many parts of the country.
The nurse corps loan repayment program will repay up to 85% of unpaid education debt (nursing only) for registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, and nurse faculty who work for at least two years in critical need areas.
Recipients work either as a nurse in a Critical Shortage Facility or as nurse faculty in an eligible nursing school.
What’s a critical shortage facility?
A Critical Shortage Facility is a health care facility that’s in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). You can check a list of HPSA designations.
Applications are based on financial need. If you’re accepted into the program, you’ll get 60% of your unpaid nursing education debt paid after your first two years. You can apply for one more year to get another 25% paid off.
For more information, check out the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Fact Sheet.
Public service loan forgiveness for nurses
The most well-known forgiveness program is public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF is available to graduates working in any industry, not just nursing. To be eligible, you must make 120 student loan payments while you’re working full-time in the public sector (government or nonprofit). You must be paying off Federal Direct student loans.
The public service loan forgiveness program has been plagued by mismanagement. The Department of Education recently made changes to the program to address complaints from thousands of borrowers. One of the results of those changes is the PSLF waiver, which allows borrowers to receive retroactive credit for payments that wouldn’t otherwise qualify. Borrowers must apply by October 31, 2022.
Additional student loan forgiveness programs for nurses
There are many other forgiveness or repayment programs available for nurses and other health care providers.
- National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) — If you commit to working in a designated HPSA for two years, you can receive repayment of up to $50,000 ($25,000 if part-time)
- NHSC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce LRP — Working at an approved SUD clinic for three years could get you repayment of up to $75k of your student loans
- NHSC Rural Community LRP — If you work at an approved SUD clinic in a rural community, you could increase that repayment amount to $100k (or $50k for part-time work)
- Faculty Loan Repayment Program — If you’re from a disadvantaged background and work as faculty in a health professions school, you may qualify for forgiveness of up to $40k over two years.
- Army Nurse Corps — If you’re interested in joining the military, you may be able to receive up to $250k in student loan repayment
- Indian Health Service LRP — If you work with Alaska Native or American Indian communities, you may be eligible to receive repayment of up to $40k of your student loans.
- Federal Perkins Loan Forgiveness — Full-time nurses with Federal Perkins loans can apply for total forgiveness over five years
- State forgiveness programs — Many states offer their own forgiveness or repayment programs to encourage nurses to come work in their state. Contact your state department of education to find out about state-specific programs.
Alternative ways to pay off nursing student loans
What if you’re not willing to make the trade-offs that some of these programs require? Or you’re not eligible?
You’re not condemned to a lifetime of monthly student loan payments. These five tips can help you pay your student loans off faster and reduce the amount you pay over the life of your loan.
- Find a job with an employer that offers student loan repayment assistance as an employee benefit.
- If you love where you’re working, ask your employer to start offering student loan repayment assistance.
- Increase your monthly payment by any amount you can. It might sound counterintuitive to pay more. But because of compounding interest, paying more now means paying less overall (and getting out of debt faster). Automate it with Daily Dolr.
- Ask friends and family to contribute to your student loans in lieu of gifts for holidays or birthdays. You can even make it super easy for them with a program like Your Village.
- Enroll in a cash back program that will send money directly to your student loans when you shop at participating retailers.
Whichever option (or options) you choose, commit to one step today that will bring you closer to being debt free. You spend all day taking care of other people. Do this to take care of yourself.