Investing In Your Future: Nursing Student Loans Explained

Pursuing a nursing program can lead to a rewarding career, but as the cost of higher education grows, paying for nursing school might just cause your blood pressure to rise. Financial aid, including nursing student loans, can help fill the gap between money on hand and education costs, but it’s good to think about your future pay compared with the debt you’re willing to take on. Nursing school student loans are a type of financial aid available to eligible college students who are enrolled in a program for licensed practical or vocational nurses, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or nurse anesthetists. Depending on the loan program, federal student loans for nursing degrees can either be need-based or not. Another option to fill in gaps in need: private student loans. Unlike grants and scholarships, nursing school loans must be repaid, though special programs like the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program offer loan forgiveness. Most loan programs, federal and private, have a grace period during school and after graduation before repayment must begin.

Key Takeaways

  • Nursing student loans can help bridge the gap between the cost of nursing school and personal finances.
  • Federal student loans for nursing degrees can be need-based or non-need-based, and private loans are another option.
  • Loan forgiveness programs, such as the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, may offer relief for eligible nurses.
  • Federal and private nursing student loans typically have a grace period before repayment begins.
  • Researching all available financing options is crucial when planning to pay for a nursing education.

Nursing Student Loans: A Path to a Rewarding Career

Before enrolling in nursing school, you’ll want to explore options for funding your education. Filling out the FAFSA is the first step in obtaining financial aid for nursing school, such as federal grants and student loans for nursing students. Next, you’ll want to apply for nursing school scholarships.

Understanding the Cost of Nursing Education

Nursing is popular among individuals interested in switching to a new field. A nursing career is one you can feel proud of, and it offers opportunities for career advancement and workplace versatility. Returning to school to earn a new degree is a significant decision, however, due in no small part to the financial resources required. On average, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) could cost between $60,000 and $80,000, depending on your chosen school. The cost might seem intimidating, but there are plenty of options for funding your education.

Weighing the Benefits of Student Loans

While the price tag of nursing school may seem daunting, student loans for nursing can help make higher education more accessible. Federal and private loans can cover tuition, fees, books, supplies, and other qualified expenses. By understanding the costs and your financing options, you can make an informed decision about investing in your future nursing career.

Types of Nursing Student Loans

nursing student loans

The Department of Education provides options for federal nursing student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. These loans can help nursing students fund their education and gain the necessary skills to become registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or other nursing professionals.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. If a nursing student qualifies, the government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time, during a six-month grace period after leaving school, and during any deferment granted for economic hardship, cancer treatment, or a few other reasons.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of financial need. Students are responsible for interest charges as soon as the loan funds are disbursed.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans

Another federal option is the Direct PLUS Loan, which is available to graduate students pursuing an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing, or to parents of an undergraduate student. PLUS Loans are non-need based and require a credit check.

Private Student Loans

Nursing students who need funding beyond federal student loans can consider private student loans offered by private financial institutions. These loans can provide additional financing options for those looking to pursue a nursing degree or nursing program.

Applying for Nursing Student Loans

nursing student loans

The process to apply for nursing student loans depends on the loan option chosen. For federal nursing student loans and private student loans, the application processes are distinct. Submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required before the academic year to determine eligibility for federal aid. Private student loan applications can be submitted online, in person, or by mail, depending on the lender, and they require the would-be borrower, or a cosigner, to meet credit and income requirements.

It’s a good idea to start the process early when seeking federal student loans for nursing education, as the time between submitting the FAFSA and disbursement of the loan funds can be months. The turnaround time after applying to receive private student loan funds can be notably shorter, with some lenders able to provide pre-qualified loan offers in just minutes.

Loan Type Application Process Eligibility Criteria Repayment Terms
Federal Direct Subsidized Loans Submit FAFSA Demonstrate financial need Grace period, income-driven repayment plans
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans Submit FAFSA No financial need requirement Grace period, income-driven repayment plans
Federal Direct PLUS Loans Submit FAFSA, credit check Graduate students or parents of undergraduates Flexible repayment options
Private Student Loans Online, in-person, or mail application Meet lender’s credit and income requirements Varies by lender, may include grace period

Comparing Loan Options

If you’re thinking about taking out student loans, you might want to compare federal student loans you might be offered in your aid package, as well as private student loans. Prioritizing federal student loans before private student loans can be a good idea, since federal loans offer advantages like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives any remaining federal student loan balance after certain borrowers make 120 qualifying payments.

Federal vs. Private Student Loans

If private nursing student loans are still needed to pay for college, checking offers across multiple private lenders can help you find competitive rates and terms. Comparing a handful of private student loan offers can help you find the best fit in terms of interest rates and repayment terms.

Interest Rates and Repayment Terms

Loan Type Interest Rates Repayment Terms
Federal Direct Subsidized Loans Fixed interest rate, currently 4.99% Up to 10 years, with deferment and forbearance options
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans Fixed interest rate, currently 4.99% Up to 10 years, with deferment and forbearance options
Federal Direct PLUS Loans Fixed interest rate, currently 7.54% Up to 10 years, with deferment and forbearance options
Private Student Loans Variable rates typically range from 2.99% to 13.99% 5 to 20 years, depending on lender and loan type

The interest rates and repayment terms for federal and private student loans can vary significantly, so it’s important to carefully evaluate your options and determine the best fit for your financial situation and academic goals.

Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

For nursing students who have accumulated substantial student loan debt, there are several loan forgiveness programs available that can provide much-needed relief. These programs not only help reduce the financial burden but also serve as an incentive for nurses to serve in underserved communities or take on specific roles within the healthcare system.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a federal initiative that forgives the remaining balance on eligible federal student loans for borrowers who work full-time in public service jobs, including nursing, and make 120 qualifying monthly payments. Registered nurses who work for government organizations or non-profit entities may be eligible for this program, which can significantly alleviate their student loan debt.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), provides financial assistance to registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses who commit to working in critical shortage facilities. This program can repay up to 85% of a nurse’s total qualifying nursing student loan balance over a three-year service commitment.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program is another option for nursing students seeking loan forgiveness. This program offers up to $50,000 in loan repayment assistance to nurses and other healthcare providers who agree to serve for at least two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area. This program can be a valuable resource for nursing students looking to minimize their student loan debt while making a meaningful impact in underserved communities.

Also Read: Unlocking Financial Freedom: Mastering Student Loan Interest


Investing in your future through nursing student loans is a pivotal decision that can set the foundation for a rewarding and stable career in healthcare. Understanding the various types of nursing student loans available, including federal loans like Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, as well as private loans offered by banks and credit unions, is essential. Federal loans typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options, including loan forgiveness programs for nurses working in underserved areas. Private loans, while sometimes necessary to cover remaining costs, often come with variable interest rates and stricter repayment terms, making it crucial to compare and choose the best option for your financial situation.

Navigating the application process for these loans, including filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meeting credit score requirements for private loans, is an important step. Utilizing resources like loan calculators and financial aid advisors can help in planning and managing your educational expenses effectively.

By strategically managing your nursing student loans, you can minimize debt and focus on your studies and future career. Investing in nursing education through well-chosen student loans not only provides the necessary financial support but also opens doors to numerous professional opportunities, ensuring a secure and prosperous future in the healthcare industry.


Q: What types of loans are available for nursing students?

A: Nursing students can typically apply for federal loans such as Perkins loans, Grad PLUS loans, or private loans to fund their education.

Q: Are there any loan forgiveness programs specifically for nurses?

A: Yes, there are student loan forgiveness programs designed for nurses, such as the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.

Q: How can nursing students qualify for loan forgiveness?

A: Nursing students may be able to have their loans forgiven by working in a designated critical shortage area, serving as nurse faculty, or through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Q: What repayment plans are available for nursing student loans?

A: Nursing students can choose from various repayment plans, including income-driven repayment plans based on their income and financial situation.

Q: Are there specific loan options for undergraduate nursing students with financial need?

A: Yes, students with financial need can explore options like the Perkins loan, health professions loan repayment programs, or federal student loan forgiveness programs tailored for individuals in the healthcare field.

Q: Can nursing students combine different types of loans for their education?

A: Yes, nursing students can consider combining federal loans, private loans, and other financial aid options to cover the cost of their nursing degree.

Q: What are some factors to consider when choosing the best student loans for nursing school?

A: When selecting student loans for nursing school, it’s essential to review interest rates, repayment terms, loan forgiveness options, and eligibility requirements to make an informed decision.

Q: How do federal student loans differ from private loans for nursing students?

A: Federal student loans typically offer lower interest rates, more flexible repayment options, and opportunities for loan forgiveness compared to private loans, making them a preferred choice for many nursing students.

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