We will be helping you highlight some of the best nursing school loans to fund your education, including other options like scholarships for funding your nursing school since going to nursing school these days can be very expensive, especially if you’re considering an advanced degree. Blink and you lose out!
Overview of Nursing School Loans
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nursing field will grow by 15% over the next 10 years, which is much faster than average. The median annual pay for nurses has also risen to over $71,000.
On your part, be sure to exhaust your federal options before turning to private lenders. Federal student loans present benefits like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which many nurses may be able to take advantage of post-graduation.
Private loans for nursing students are available, and these can make sense if you’ve maxed out your federal assistance.
Graduate students with good credit may also want to consider a private nursing student loan if they can pass for a low interest rate.
If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, you’ve picked a great time to see our picks for the best nursing school loans to fund your education.
Best Nursing School Loans to Fund Your Education 2023
Depending on your situation, you may need to take out student loans for your nursing degree. If so, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal. Below are lists of options;
1. HRSA Nursing Loans
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is the organization that oversees the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, which helps pay off up to 85% of student debt for nurses who work in high-need areas.
However, the HRSA also offers a couple of low-cost nursing student loans that may be worth looking into.
Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
The NSL program is intended to provide low-cost student loans to disadvantaged nursing students. To qualify for this program, you’ll need to attend a participating school and provide proof of financial need.
Nursing diplomas as well as associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees in nursing are all eligible for NSL. Currently, NSL comes with an interest rate of 5% and a nine-month, 0%-interest grace period.
Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP)
The HRSA wants to see more nurses pursuing graduate degrees in nursing become qualified nurse faculty.
That’s why it’s partnered with schools to provide graduate nursing students with affordable nursing school loans at an interest rate of 3%.
What’s really fantastic about this program, though, is that it offers partial loan forgiveness of up to 85% of the loan amount over four years.
To qualify for the loan forgiveness, nurses need to obtain full-time employment as a teacher or instructor at an accredited nursing school or health facility after graduation.
2. Federal Student Loans
If neither of the HRSA nursing school loans seem appealing to you or you don’t qualify for them, federal student loans may be your next-best option.
Direct Subsidized Loans
If you have financial need, you may be able to qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan. After you’ve sent in the necessary paperwork, the nursing school you’re attending will determine the amount you can borrow.
With Direct Subsidized Loans, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on your nursing student loans during the following three periods:
- While you’re in school at least half-time
- During your six-month grace period after graduation
- While you’re in a period of deferment.
Direct Subsidized Loans taken out between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025, will come with the following interest rates:
- Undergraduate Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans: 4.53%
- Graduate Direct Loans: 6.08%
- Graduate and Parent PLUS Loans: 7.08%
If you qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan, this could be the most affordable option available to you.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Loans come with the same interest rates as their subsidized counterparts. But there are a couple of main differences between the two:
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not need-based so you don’t have to demonstrate financial need.
- The federal government doesn’t pay the interest on these loans when students are in school or in their grace period, nor when loans are in deferment.
However, the interest rates are still attractive on these nursing school loans. Plus, they qualify for income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Direct Plus Loans could also be helpful for borrowers pursuing their nursing degree.
Parent PLUS Loans allow parents to help pay for the degree of their child. Additionally, Grad PLUS Loans are available for graduate students who have already borrowed up to the maximum amount via the Direct Loan program.
Direct PLUS Loans come with the following interest rates:
- 2019-20: 7.08%
- 2018-19: 7.6%
It’s important to note, though, that you’ll need to submit a credit check when you’re applying for a Grad PLUS Loan. And if you have an adverse credit history, you may need to have a cosigner on the loan.
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Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal forgiveness program available exclusively for public servants.
With PSLF, eligible borrowers can apply for forgiveness after making 120 qualified payments. Plus, no income tax is due on the forgiven amount.
What’s so great about PSLF for nurses is that you can qualify by finding employment at a nonprofit hospital.
If you already have plans to work at a nonprofit hospital, you may want to strongly consider taking out federal student loans so you can pursue PSLF.
Note: Parent PLUS loans don’t qualify for PSLF but can become eligible through Direct Loan Consolidation. Even so, eligibility is based on the parent’s employment, not the student’s.
3. Private student loans
You can pay for your nursing degree with private student loans as well. However, you won’t be eligible for any federal forgiveness programs with private loans, and you may have to start repaying your nursing school loans immediately.
But you may be able to get a better interest rate with a private lender than you can get with a federal loan.
This could be especially true for graduate nursing school loans since Grad PLUS interest rates (even with their upcoming drop) are still fairly high at 7%.
Keep in mind that the interest rate you’re offered will be related to your credit standing. And if your credit isn’t great or you don’t have a credit history at all, you’ll most likely be required to have a cosigner.
Available Nursing Scholarships
- A Nurse I Am Scholarship by Cherokee Uniforms – Awards up to 10 scholarships, each worth US$2,000, to nursing students.
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) – Offers Continuing Professional Development Scholarships to help members acquire knowledge and skills beyond traditional academic nursing education. A limited number of scholarships for specific academic courses will continue to be awarded.
- Cascade Healthcare Solutions Nurses Make a Difference Scholarship – An annual $1,000 scholarship awarded to an aspiring nurse who is currently enrolled in (or accepted for) an undergraduate nursing program. You need to be either a legal resident of the US or hold a valid student visa to apply.
- Delta State University – A variety of scholarships on offer to study at the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing.
- Johnson & Johnson Discover Nursing Scholarships Database – Search and find scholarships in the US by state, study level, and requirements with this handy tool, which lists over 340 nursing scholarships.
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) – Offers annual scholarships for students who are NBNA members or local chapter members, currently enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program, and have at least one full year of study remaining. Awards range from US$1,000 to $6,000.
- Northern Illinois University – Various scholarships available to study nursing. Only admitted nursing majors are eligible.
- NURSE Corps Scholarship Program – enables students accepted or enrolled in a diploma, associate, baccalaureate, or graduate nursing programs, to receive funding for tuition, fees, and other educational costs in exchange for working at an eligible NURSE Corps site upon graduation. Applicants must be US citizens (born or naturalized), nationals, or lawful permanent residents.
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Certainly, with all this information at your fingertips, you shouldn’t be worried about the funds for nursing school.
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