Student loans are inevitable when pursuing nursing degree programs. Most degree programs are quite costly, hence the need for nursing education grants and funds from both the state and federal levels. While it’s relatively easy to obtain a student loan to pay for school, loan repayment has always been a tall order for most students, especially in the first years after graduation.
Registered nurses are at an advantage when it comes to loan repayments. Nurses have several loan forgiveness programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Perkins loans, and other state and federal loan forgiveness programs. These loan forgiveness programs are the primary strategies used by registered nurses to reduce their student loan debts. But what is loan forgiveness?
Loan forgiveness allows students to forgo repaying some of the remaining principal or interest after a certain period and after meeting the program requirements. In most cases, you are required to pay income tax on all the loan amounts forgiven. Nurses working in government agencies, public service, and nonprofit organizations are highly eligible for student loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness helps make your loan repayment more manageable.
If you are considering pursuing your nursing education or taking the first step towards student loan forgiveness, you are in the right place. This article covers the essentials of loan forgiveness programs, including:
- National student loan forgiveness programs for nurses
- State-level student loan forgiveness programs for nurses
- How to qualify for a student loan forgiveness as a nurse
- How to apply for a student loan forgiveness program
National Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses
Nurse professions are highly respected. However, the journey to the profession doesn’t come cheap due to the high nursing education costs. To ease the financial burden, most nursing students seek out student loans. Despite student loans being necessary to obtain a quality education, the repayment costs can be quite a burden to registered nurses. It requires adequate financial preparation to help meet the repayment demands. To this effect, some students seek alternative repayment options, especially the national student loan forgiveness programs. Today, we’ll explore how the national and federal loan forgiveness program works and the eligible nursing careers for loan forgiveness.
How Does Federal Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses Work?
Federal student loan forgiveness programs are loan repayment programs that apply specifically to federal student loans. The federal government usually offers federal student loans to students pursuing different degree programs to help ease the financial burden. They act as loan repayment options for nursing professionals who have received federal student loans.
How does it work? If you are working as a nurse for an eligible employer and you meet the specific time frame requirements, you qualify for the loan repayment programs. Registered nurses will likely receive loan forgiveness from the U.S. Department of Education for particular amounts on your loan principal or interest or the remaining federal loans through the loan forgiveness option. When this happens, all or part of your loan balance is eliminated.
To apply for the federal loan forgiveness program, you first need to reach out to the agency that issued the federal student loan. They will provide you with the necessary documents required to apply for the loan forgiveness and give you instructions on how to apply and what documents are needed to back up your application.
How Do National Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses Work?
Nursing students, especially those who received national student loans, are eligible for national student loan forgiveness programs such as National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. However, to qualify for this loan repayment program, you must be a licensed nurse practitioner serving in the country’s health care set-up. Nursing professionals eligible for the national student loan forgiveness programs typically receive up to $50,000 to help resettle their student loans.
In return, the eligible nurses must work full time for at least two years in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) approved and assigned by the National Health Service Corps. In case you need more loan repayment funds, you may be required to work in a health professional shortage area for an additional one year after the elapse of your two-year contract. You could also work in a nursing school as a nursing faculty, provided you offer services within the specified time frame.
The forgiveness amounts for national loan student forgiveness programs typically depend on the nursing professional’s employment status. Full-time nurses’ repayment options range between $30,000 to $50,000. Part-time nurses’ repayment options range between $15,000 to $25,000 and require you to work twenty hours weekly for at least 45 weeks.
Which Nursing Careers Are Eligible for National Student Loan Forgiveness?
Several national loan forgiveness programs for students apply to nurses due to the formidable work the health care professionals are doing. Nurses, especially those in the public service and nonprofit organizations, are often eligible for the national student loan forgiveness. Specific job titles include:
- Registered Nurses: RNs are always at the forefront of health care service delivery as they provide and coordinate patient care, patient advice, educate patients and the general public on health conditions, and provide emotional support to patient families. Registered nurses working in public service are highly eligible for loan forgiveness.
- Cardiac Nurse: This nursing specialty is among the most sophisticated nursing careers in the country. It is highly costly, leading to financial constraints. To this effect, cardiac nurses are always eligible for loan forgiveness.
- Critical Care Nurses: This nursing role is similar to those of registered nurses. However, unlike the RNs, critical care nurses are trained specifically to care for the sickest patients who require significant medical interventions. They are also eligible for the program.
Other nursing careers eligible for student loan forgiveness programs include:
- Clinical nurse specialist
- ER nurse
- Family nurse practitioners
- Surgical nurses
- Nurse educator
State-Level Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses
Due to the cost implications associated with nursing degrees, earning a debt-free degree can be quite tricky. Students typically accrue student loan debts that need loan assistance to repay.
Like the federal government, which has a wide variety of federal loan forgiveness programs, several states also have various state-level loan forgiveness programs unique to nurses practicing within those particular states. For a nurse to qualify for the loan forgiveness programs, they must practice within the state for some specific time as well as meeting other requirements unique to the state. Unlike federal-level student loan forgiveness programs for nurses that repay large sums, the state-level loan repayment options are relatively small, but when you have a lot of student loan debt, any assistance helps.
How Do State-Level Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses Work?
If the state government or not-for-profit organization employs you within a specific state, you might be eligible for a state-level loan forgiveness program. You don’t have to be a particular type of nurse to qualify for the state-level student loan forgiveness programs as your employers qualify you for the loan forgiveness option and not your job type. State-based loan forgiveness for nurses gets funding from either the state itself or the federal government.
Each state-level student loan forgiveness works differently depending on the state. For instance, California nurses are eligible for the California State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education, which offers up to $25,000 loan repayment to qualified nursing practitioners. Other states, such as Alaska, offer nurse practitioners almost $27,000 per year. The repayment option varies considerably depending on the job position and location of the employment. The information regarding state-level loan forgiveness programs is on webpages of the individual states.
What Types of Loan Forgiveness Is Offered to Nurses Through State Programs?
As mentioned, each state has its unique loan forgiveness programs for nurses with unique eligibility, requirements, and work commitments. Here are some of the common state-level forgiveness programs:
- Alaska’s SHARP Program: This state loan repayment program helps nurse practitioners with student loan debt repayment in exchange for service delivery in specified shortage areas. Under the program, a nurse practitioner is eligible for up to $27,000 loan forgiveness per year. However, the amount earned is based on the location and position of the nurse.
- California State Loan Repayment Program: This program is unique to nurses living and practicing within California. The loan assistance is available to nurses working in a medically underserved area or health professional shortage area. The nurses must sign at least a one-year contract. Nurses receive up to $10 000 per year, and they can only apply up to three times.
- Florida’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program: The loan forgiveness offers loan assistance to nurses practicing within Florida. Successful nurse applicants receive up to $4,000 per year, and the loan can be awarded up to four times. The program is available to nurses working in shortage areas.
- Veteran’s Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program: This program is available to nurse practitioners in Illinois who work in veteran’s homes. They receive loan assistance of $5,000 annually for up to four years. To be eligible for the program, one must meet set licensing requirements from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
- Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program: The Louisiana nursing loan program was designed to encourage nursing professionals to work in rural communities in exchange for loan assistance. Nurse practitioners, especially those working full time in a not-for-profit organization or a designated health professional shortage area, might receive loan assistance of up to $15,000.
- Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP): The program is used to recruit dental and other medical health providers to offer health services in HPSAs. The program provides up to $200,000 to eligible nurses. However, only APRNs qualify for the program.
- Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program: This program covers nurses who provide medical care to persons with disabilities or those working in licensed nursing homes. The eligible nurse receives between $5,000 and $20,000 each year up to four times. However, the nurses must commit to a two-year contract, which can be extended for a maximum of two years.
- Perkins Loan Cancellation: The Perkins Loans cancellation program is mostly available to teachers, but nurses also qualify for the loan forgiveness program. Despite being a federal program, nurses working at the state level can also apply. It requires nurses to work for at least five years in professional-shortage areas.
What Are the Requirements for Nurses to Qualify for State-Level Loan Forgiveness Programs?
Despite different states having varied requirements for state-level loan forgiveness programs, there are some commonalities. Let’s explore some of the requirements:
- Must be a lawful permanent resident of that state and have supporting documents.
- Must have earned a nursing degree, associate degree, or diploma in nursing and with practicing certifications.
- Must be a registered nursing practitioner practicing within a designated health shortage area within the state.
- Must work for the state government or non-profit organization within the state.
- Have outstanding education loans leading to a degree or diploma in nursing.
- Must have completed the degree program for which the student debt applies.
How to Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness as A Nurse
There are several loan forgiveness programs eligible for nurses. All these programs have varied qualifications and requirements that registered nurses must meet before they receive repayment assistance. This page will explore some of the qualifications for student loan forgiveness in-depth, including the number of work years and the amount needed to pay before receiving the loan forgiveness payments.
What Do You Need to Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness as A Nurse?
Even though nurses have job security and high salaries when compared to other related professions, the nursing path might take a substantial amount of student loans, mostly graduates from the best nursing schools. These loans usually give students a grace period, after which nurses must start to repay the loans.
According to several surveys, students owe borrowers up to $55,000 at the end of the degree programs. Graduating from school owing so much in loans can be quite devastating. However, students can take several student loan repayment programs to repay their federal loans or private loans. Most of these loans have different eligibility requirements. Let’s explore some of this student loan forgiveness in detail.
- National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
This is one of the most common nursing forgiveness loans available to nurses. Through the program, a nurse can receive settlement up to 85% of their debts. Here are some of the likely qualifications for the student loan repayment program:
- Must be a licensed registered nurse, a nurse faculty member, or an advanced practice registered nurse
- Must have received your nursing degree from an accredited nursing school within the United States
- Must be a full-time employee in a high-need area or critical shortage facility
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public service loan forgiveness program is a relief to various public service nursing professionals. Here are some of the qualifications for public service loan forgiveness:
- Must have student educational loan through federal IDR programs
- Must have at least made 120 qualifying payments on the loan
- Must either work for the government or a qualifying non-profit organization
- State-Level Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
These loan programs are specific to nurses working with a particular state. To qualify for the loans, the nurse must be:
- Registered nurses or advanced practice registered nurse
- A resident of the state and have supporting documents
- Working in a high-need area or shortage areas
- Have student loan
- Perkins Loan Cancellation
Perkins Loan borrowers generally qualify for Perkins Loan Cancellation. The loan forgiveness is mainly issued to low-income graduates and undergraduates to help ease the loan repayment financial burden. Some of the qualifications include:
- Must be a registered and practicing nurse
- Must work at least for five years in the nursing field
- Must have outstanding Perkins Loans
- Must be an American citizen
How Long Must You Work as A Nurse to Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?
Like any other qualification, the number of years a nurse has to work to qualify for loan forgiveness also depends on the type of loan repayment program a nurse is applying for. For instance, Perkins loans require nurses to work full-time for at least five years to qualify for the loan. Fortunately, nurses applying for this loan forgiveness program might be eligible for 100% forgiveness from the borrower. On the other hand, nurses applying for the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program must at least work for two years to become eligible for the loan forgiveness. Currently, there is extraordinary Covid-19 loan forgiveness that doesn’t consider the number of years a nurse has worked.
As A Nurse, How Much Might You Need to Pay Toward Student Loans Before Loan Forgiveness Kicks in?
Student loan forgiveness programs are generally tied to the student loan repayment plans. Therefore, if eligible for repayment options, you automatically qualify for forgiveness at a later period. The student forgiveness programs typically have repayment criteria. For instance, you need to make some payments to help service your loan to qualify for loan forgiveness. Loan repayment options such as the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness programs require students to make at least 120 installments to help service their loan, close to 25% of the total student loan. Others like NHSC pay up to 85% of the full loan, which means that the nurse must repay at least 15% of the loan.
How to Apply for A Student Loan Forgiveness Program
If you are awarded a student loan forgiveness plan, you will not need to make payments on your loans. What could be more satisfying to nursing professionals than a program that helps repay student loans required for both online programs and on-campus programs?
Despite the benefits of loan payment assistance, though, most professionals still lack the correct knowledge of the application process. Next, we explore the application process and the need for a loan forgiveness program as a nurse practitioner.
What Are the Steps to Applying for A Student Loan Forgiveness Program?
Every loan forgiveness program has its unique qualifications and unique application process. Students must know all the requirements and the application process to ensure success in the loan forgiveness program application. Here are some of the common steps to applying for a loan forgiveness program:
- Research on Student Loan Forgiveness Program: The first step to the application process involves researching the various loan forgiveness programs that might be eligible to you as a nursing practitioner. The programs might either be federal loans or state-level student loan repayment programs.
- Identify the Appropriate Program: With the high number of student loan forgiveness programs, you are unlikely to qualify for all of them. Go through all the program application requirements to identify the program you highly qualify for.
- Fill Out Application Forms: One step into earning a student loan forgiveness program is filling out the application forms with the correct details. The application forms are generally available online or at respective nurse faculties. Ensure you get all your information together and confirm they are accurate.
- Submit the Application Forms: Once you are confident that you have filled the application forms, submit your application before the deadline. Make use of automated reminders to ensure you submit the documents before the due date.
How Do You Know Which Loan Forgiveness Program to Apply for as A Nurse?
With the increased number of student loan forgiveness programs available to nurse practitioners, it can be quite hard to choose the right loan forgiveness plan. Besides, the loan repayment programs also have various qualification requirements which must be met before earning the repayment assistance programs. With this guide, you will gain in-depth knowledge on the strategies that might help you choose a loan forgiveness program to apply for as a nurse. Here are the tips:
- Get Knowledge on the Available Student Loan Repayment Options: Before choosing any student loan forgiveness plan, you must learn about the different options and the requirements. This will help you identify the most appropriate program for you.
- Loan Forgiveness Terms: Always read through the loan forgiveness terms of each option to identify the most appropriate for you. Loans repayment programs that are likely to cancel all your remaining balances should be highly considered, and loan forgiveness programs that don’t tie you to a specific job are desirable.
With these tips, you might be able to identify the most appropriate loan forgiveness terms. Details about the programs are always available on the respective loan forgiveness program’s website.
Why Should You Pursue a Loan Forgiveness Programs as a Nurse?
Despite helping students repay their loan balances, there are several questions concerning student loan forgiveness, especially if they are worth it. To help you understand the need to pursue a loan forgiveness program, let’s explore some of the programs’ benefits.
- Help Get Rid of the Student Debt: As long as you meet the loan forgiveness program’s requirements, the remaining loan balances will be forgiven. However, this is always limited to some amounts.
- No Tax Payment on the Forgiven Amount: Several loan forgiveness plans have no tax implications on the forgiven amount. Therefore, you need not worry since you are unlikely to get a hefty tax bill.
- Financial Freedom: The loan repayment programs help create a lot of financial freedom for nurse practitioners as they need not worry about student loans.
The first thought that always comes to a graduate’s mind is to look for a job that will help them pay the student loans hanging over their heads. However, this might take a few years to achieve, even after landing your dream job. There are no shortcuts to repaying your student loans, but student loan forgiveness is a useful option that a student might explore to help them get rid of the student debts. The loan forgiveness programs are quite important as they help save the nurse practitioners from financial ruin.
There are several loan forgiveness programs available to nurses, both for federal and state loans. The most common program includes Public Service Student Loan forgiveness programs that are mostly available to public service nurses and those working for accredited non-for-profit organizations. To qualify for loan repayment assistance, the nurses must work for some specific periods in critical shortage areas. Most programs dictate that nurses must at least work for two years in those areas to qualify for the loan forgiveness plans. Besides, they must have outstanding student loans. They must also be U.S residents and have supporting documents for proof.
We hope we gave you all the information you need about student loan forgiveness programs for nurses. Why not apply for one today?