How to Get Nursing Student Loans ForgivenJune 28, 2021
Nursing is a rewarding profession that allows you to help people within your community manage their health and cope with medical crises. It’s also a career field where jobs are abundant, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating employment opportunities for registered nurses are projected to expand by 7% between 2019 and 2029.
But while job prospects should be plentiful after graduation, going to school to become a registered nurse can be very expensive. While the average cost of nursing school varies depending on the degree you earn, NurseJournal reports a bachelor’s degree in nursing could come at a price of between $40,000 to $100,000.
High tuition costs can often leave students wondering, is nursing school worth it? The good news is, there are options out there for nurses who need assistance with their student loans, including student loan forgiveness options like:
- National Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
- State-specific programs.
National Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses
Some programs are available nationwide to help nurses across the United States pursue loan forgiveness. However, eligibility for these programs varies depending on the type of work you do and the types of student loans you have. Here are a few options.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness is available to nurses who work for the government or a qualifying not-for-profit. When you participate in this program, you must make 120 payments on a qualifying income-driven payment plan. After making the required number of payments, the remainder of your balance is forgiven. You aren’t taxed on the forgiven amount.
You’ll need to work full-time at a qualifying position, defined as working at least 30 hours a week or meeting your employer’s requirements for full-time work. And only federal student loans are eligible.
You will need to complete an employment certification form and submit it to FedLoan Servicing to ensure you’re on track for forgiveness and should review the PSLF application carefully to make sure you fulfill all requirements.
National Health Services Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Services Corp Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment help to nurses and nurse-midwives who work in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. If you’re eligible, you can get federal and private nursing school loans repaid, and payments received from it are not taxable.
The maximum amount of repayment assistance you will receive depends on work status:
- Full-time nurses who make a two-year commitment can receive up to $50,000 in repayment assistance.
- Part-time nurses can have up to $25,000 repaid with a two-year commitment.
You can apply online and must provide supporting documentation, including verification of your loans.
There’s also another loan forgiveness program called the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce loan repayment period, also operated by the NHSC. This provides:
- Up to $75,000 in loan forgiveness for full-time nurses who make a three-year commitment
- Up to $37,500 in loan forgiveness for part-time nurses
This program is open to:
- Nurse practitioners
- Certified nurse-midwives
- Psychiatric nurse specialists
Applications can also be submitted online.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is a top choice for nurses with private student loans. That’s because the program provides repayment assistance for up to 60% of all outstanding loans from nursing schools, including both private loans and those issued by the Department of Education.
To be eligible for this program, you must be either a licensed registered nurse or an advanced practice registered nurse and must either:
- Work full-time in a clinic or hospital that has a critical shortage of nurses or
- Work full-time as a nurse faculty member at an accredited school of nursing.
This critical health professional shortage areas tool can help you to find qualifying places to work.
You can submit a Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Application online to become eligible for repayment assistance. If you choose to remain in your eligible position for a third year, you may also be eligible to get an additional 25% of your original balance paid off.
Just be aware that while this program allows you to retire your loans faster than Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the money provided is taxable.
Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation & Discharge
Perkins Loans are a type of federal loan offered to students with substantial academic need. No new Perkins Loans have been issued since 2018, but many people still have outstanding debt from the program.
Qualifying nurses with Perkins Loans can become eligible for incremental forgiveness over a five-year period. During this period, it’s possible to defer student loan payments so that, in the end, you may not have to pay any balance at all. Plus, forgiveness is tax-free.
Indian Health Services Loan Repayment
Advanced practice nurses and nurses with an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree can become eligible for loan forgiveness by working in full-time clinical positions in an Alaska Native or American Indian community. Up to $40,000 in loans can be forgiven for nurses who make a two-year commitment.
Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
Military student loan forgiveness is available for nurses who participate in eligible programs with the Army, Navy, or Air Force. Qualifying nurses can receive up to $40,000 in annual loan forgiveness, but the amounts received are considered taxable.
State-Specific Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
In addition to nationwide options for student loan forgiveness for nurses, there are also state-specific programs. If you’re hoping to determine how to get nursing student loans forgiven, you can check out these programs if you live in a location that offers them.
In Alaska, nurses can take advantage of the SHARP Program, which aims to attract healthcare professionals to work in designated shortage areas. Up to $27,000 in loan repayment help is available.
Nurse practitioners who make a two-year commitment to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area can obtain up to $50,000 in loan repayment help through the Arizona State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP). Nurses can choose to work either full or part-time.
California nurses can receive up to $10,000 in loan repayment assistance if they work for at least one year in a medically underserved area or a Health Professional Shortage Area through the California State Loan Repayment Program. Eligible nurses can continue the program for a maximum of three years, receiving the same annual $10,000 award.
The Colorado Health Service Corps Program enables full-time nurses to receive up to $50,000 in loan repayment help and part-time nurses to receive up to $25,000. Nurses must commit to working for a three-year period in a Health Professional Shortage Area.
Nurses who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas in Florida are eligible for up to $4,000 in loan repayment help if they work in Health Professional Shortage areas. LPNs, RNs, and ARNPs licensed in Florida are eligible for this assistance if they have a Florida license and work in a qualifying position. The $4,000 repayment assistance funds are available for up to four years total.
The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment help to nurse practitioners who work full-time in a Health Professional Shortage Area for at least two years or who work part-time in designated Shortage Areas for at least four years. The amount of loan repayment assistance can vary as the program is grant-funded, so awards depend on the funds available.
Nurses in Idaho who work for non-profit or public employers in a Health Professional Shortage Area can become eligible for assistance from the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program. Employers must be willing to match repayment funds. Nurse practitioners could receive between $10,000 and $25,000 annually and can receive funding for a maximum of two years.
Illinois operates a Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, enabling qualifying nurses to receive up to $5,000 in loan repayment help each year. Nurses must meet specific eligibility criteria, and the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs must certify they are in good standing. The money is available for a maximum of four years.
Nurses and nurse educators employed full-time may be eligible to have the lesser of either $6,000 or 20% of their standard loan balance forgiven through the Iowa Registered Nurse and Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program. Forgiveness is available for a maximum of five consecutive years.
Up to $20,000 in repayment assistance is available to Kansas nurses who work in a designated Health Professional Shortage area for at least two years. All health professionals can participate in the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program, and there’s a limited amount of funding available.
Kentucky nurse practitioners can become eligible for between $20,000 and $40,000 in loan forgiveness through the Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program. Each participant’s nursing designation determines their forgiveness amount.
Nurses must work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years to become eligible. And a sponsor, such as an employer or foundation, must be willing to match the forgiveness funds provided by the Program.
Nurses in Louisiana can become eligible for up to $15,000 per year in loan repayment help if they make a three-year commitment to work for a nonprofit or to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area. The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program is open only to nurses licensed in Louisiana who are in good standing with their loans.
Maryland nurses with a gross salary under $60,000 could become eligible for the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program if they earned their nursing degrees in Maryland. Nurses must work for qualifying organizations serving low-income or underserved residents. Between $1,400 and $10,000 in annual repayment help is available depending on the amount of student debt, and nurses can participate in the program for a maximum of three years total.
Nurse practitioners can receive up to $200,000 in tax-free repayment funds over an eight-year period through the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program. To become eligible, they must work in underserved communities in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area and make a two-year work commitment.
The Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program provides registered nurses and licensed practical nurses with up to $6,000 per year in loan repayment help. Nurses may participate in the program for a maximum of four years and become eligible if they work in a licensed nursing home or work with people who have developmental disabilities.
Registered nurses with at least $1,000 in outstanding student loan debt can become eligible for loan repayment assistance through the Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program. Nurses must work in a Montana state prison or hospital, and the amount of repayment help depends on state funding and the number of candidates. Nurses can participate in the program for up to four years.
Nurse practitioners who commit to work in a designated health shortage area may receive up to $15,000 annually in loan repayment help from various Nebraska Loan Repayment Programs. One program requires a two-year commitment, and the other requires a three-year minimum commitment. Employers must match state assistance provided.
Nurses who commit to work for 36 months in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area can qualify for the New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program. This program provides up to $45,000 in repayment help. Candidates also have the choice to receive an additional $20,000 if they extend their service for an extra two years.
Through the New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, advanced practice nurses and nurse practitioners may receive repayment help. The specific amount of assistance isn’t disclosed, but the program is federally funded and open to nurses who work full-time in a medical shortage area for at least two years.
Up to $8,000 annually in loan repayment help is available to registered nurses with graduate degrees who become nursing faculty members. The money is available through the New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program, and nurses can participate in the program for a maximum of five years.
The Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program in Ohio provides up to $1,620 per year in student loans for nursing students. The entire balance of the loan can be forgiven after working full-time as a nurse or nursing instructor for four years.
The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program offers repayment help to registered nurses and nurse practitioners who work in Health Shortage Areas. Part-time nurses must make a four-year commitment, and full-time nurses must make a two-year commitment. Employers must provide matching funds.
Part-time nurses are eligible for relief for up to 50% of outstanding loans with a maximum limit of $17,500 annually. Full-time providers are also eligible for up to 50% off qualifying debt up to a maximum of $35,000 annually. Nurses can extend their eligibility for another two years after fulfilling their initial commitments.
The Health Professional Program is open to registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and psychiatric nurse specialists. The award amount varies, and a two-year commitment is required for full-time nurses or a four-year commitment for part-time nurses.
The Nurse Educators Program awards up to 60% of a nurse educator’s qualifying loan balance after two years. Educators can obtain an additional 25% off their original balance by adding on an extra year.
Tennessee nurses who enroll in a higher education nursing program can obtain loans through the Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program, which will be forgiven if they work full-time as teachers after graduation. Only licensed nurses who are Tennessee residents will be eligible.
Nurses can receive up to $6,000 if they make a 12-month service commitment to work in a designated underserved area. Nurses qualify for this help from Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program if they work a minimum of 45 weeks per year with at least 20 hours dedicated to clinical practice.
The Virginia State Loan Repayment Program provides up to $100,000 in loan repayment help to nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives who commit to two years of service. Nurses must work at least 40 hours per week for 45 weeks per year to be eligible.
Nurse practitioners who work in designated Health Professional Shortage areas can receive up to $40,000 from the West Virginia State Loan Repayment Program. Nurses must commit to working for at least two years but can extend their contracts for an additional two years to receive another $25,000.
Up to $50,000 in loan repayment help is available from the Health Professionals Loan Assistance Program for nurses who work for at least three years in underserved or urban communities.
Nurses who commit to working two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area can receive up to $20,000 in loan repayment assistance through the Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program.
Student Loan Forgiveness Alternatives for Nurses
Although there are many options for student loan forgiveness for nurses, not everyone will qualify. If you don’t qualify for loan forgiveness for nurses, there are other options, including:
- Income-Driven Repayment Plans
- Student Loan Refinancing
Income-Driven Repayment Plans (IDR) Student Loan Refinancing
Income-driven repayment plans allow you to make monthly payments capped at a percent of income and get the remaining balance of your loans forgiven after a certain number of years. There are several options for income-driven payment plans, including:
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)
In some cases, forgiven student loan debt is taxable, so make sure you understand the IRS implications if you expect to get part of your loan balance erased after fulfilling your payment requirements on one of these plans.
Student Loan Refinancing
Student loan refinancing for nurses is another option for those who do not qualify for forgiveness. Refinancing involves taking out a new loan with more favorable terms to repay your old one.
If you meet your lender’s student loan refinancing qualifications, you may be able to reduce your interest rate substantially. Refinancing could help you pay off student loans faster, reduce your monthly payment, and pay less interest over time.
However, while there are many benefits of student loan refinancing, remember that you may lose certain borrower protections if you refinance federal student loans. If you refinance federal loans, you’ll become ineligible for CARES Act Student loan Forbearance, income-based payment options and loan forgiveness options.
Refinance Your Nursing School Student Loans with ELFI
If you’ve considered how to get nursing student loans forgiven and found you aren’t eligible, or if you’re looking for other solutions to lower loan repayment costs, ELFI is here to help.*
ELFI offers student loan refinancing options with competitive variable and fixed interest rates. You can use a student loan refinancing calculator to see how much you could save by refinancing so you can determine whether it makes sense for you.
You can also get help throughout the refinancing process from ELFI’s personal loan advisors. Plus, ELFI’s industry-leading customer support can help to simplify the refinancing process and hopefully improve your financial situation in the long run.