As a nurse, you may be able to take advantage of student loan forgiveness and repayment programs that significantly reduce or eliminate your debt if you qualify.
It’s not unusual for a nurse or nurse practitioner to accumulate thousands in student loan debt before leaving school to start a career.
However, since nursing is such a valuable profession, there are a few ways you can obtain full student loan forgiveness for nurses or get access to programs that help reduce the burden of student loan repayment.
NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is designed to offer student loan repayment assistance to nurses who qualify. This includes registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nursing faculty who have graduated from an accredited school of nursing in the U.S.
As one of the top forms of loan forgiveness for nurses, the program is highly competitive and only accepts applications once a year. But if you already work full-time in an eligible Critical Shortage Facility (CSF), or you’re willing to work full-time in one of these facilities for at least two years, you could have much of your debt paid for.
If you’re approved for the program, 60 percent of your nursing student loans will be paid for by the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) after fulfilling your two-year agreement. Then, once your two years are up, you may have the option to extend the agreement for another year, during which another 25 percent of your nursing school loans will be paid by the NHSC.
NHSC Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps also offers an additional program that offers loan forgiveness for nurses.
Known as the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, qualified nurses can enjoy up to $50,000 towards their student loan balances after completing two years of full-time service in a Health Profession Shortage Area (HPSA) at a NHSC-approved site.
After these two years are finished, qualified nurses may be given the option to extend the program for a third year, and receive additional payments towards their student loan balance. Moreover, this program is available to part-time nurses as well, offering up to $25,000 in repayment assistance to those who meet the program’s requirements.
Find out if you qualify for one of these nursing loan repayment programs for free.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program for Nurses
If your nursing career has taken you into the public sector and you have loans that qualify, you could be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which offers federal student loan forgiveness for nurses. Currently, the loans that qualify for the PSLF Program include:
· Direct Subsidized Loans
· Direct Unsubsidized Loans
· Direct PLUS Loans (for qualified parents)
· Direct Consolidation Loans
Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) are also eligible for the PSLF Program if the loans are consolidated. If your student loans are in default, however, you won’t qualify for this program.
The requirements for the PSLF Program include working full-time for a qualifying federal, state, local or tribal government organization. Our loan forgiveness experts can help you find out if the organization you work for qualifies.
Once you’re approved for the program, you’ll then need to make 120 on-time payments on qualifying student loans after October 1, 2007. None of these payments can be more than 15 days late and will need to be for the full amount due each month. However, even if you work for a nonqualifying employer at any time, all payments made during your time with a qualified employer will count towards your 120 payments.
After you’ve finished making your 120 on-time, qualifying payments, you’ll need to re-apply for student loan forgiveness through the PSLF Program to have your balance eliminated. You’ll also need to be working full-time for a qualifying employer when you apply for nursing loan forgiveness.
Any amount you’re forgiven on your nursing school debt through the PSLF Program is considered untaxable by the IRS.
Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses
As a full-time nurse with a Perkins Loan, you could become eligible for a Perkins Loan Cancellation after serving more than five years in the profession at a qualifying organization. Once your five-year eligibility window is up, your remaining student loan debt can be cancelled in the following ways:
- Year one: 15% cancellation
- Year two: 15% cancellation
- Year three: 20% cancellation
- Year four: 20% cancellation
- Year five: 30% cancellation
Basically, if you’re a nurse who has a Perkins Loan and you’re seeking cancellation of your debt, you could have 100 percent of your student loan balance discharged within a 10-year timeframe.
State Loan Repayment Programs
Depending on the state you live and work in, the NHSC sponsors numerous state repayment programs and nursing loan forgiveness programs for those who provide primary care in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) across the U.S.
Your healthcare organization may also sponsor in-house repayment assistance programs that can help you pay back a portion of your student debt. In this case, it’s best to see what your organization offers directly.
Other Repayment and Forgiveness Options for Nurses
Beyond programs designed specifically nursing student loans, there are several other repayment and forgiveness options that could help reduce your student debt, forgive your loan balances or make your monthly payments more manageable. Here is what’s available:
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- IBR for New Borrowers · Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
- U.S. Armed Forces Programs
For more details on repayment and forgiveness programs for nurses, speak with a student loan specialist by phone at (800) 771-6358.