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How Will My Nursing Student Loans Affect My Credit Score?

NurseJournal Staff
Updated October 10, 2023
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Understand how nursing school loans affect your credit score, and how developing the right habits can improve your credit rating.
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Your nursing student loans can give you an excellent credit score or damage it for years.

As financial advisor Michael Ryan notes, “Your nursing student loans can definitely affect your credit score. But by making on-time payments and keeping your debt levels low, you can help improve your score over time.”

This guide explains the relationship between student loans and credit scores, how loans impact your credit, and how to make your nursing student loans work for you.

Student Loans and Credit Health

Like any kind of loan, paying nursing student loans off on time will help to build your credit score. Consistently late or skipped payments will lower your credit score.

Federal loans often have more flexible options than private loans, though subsidized loans have relatively low limits to how much you can borrow.

Finance advisor Shawn Plummer notes that it is important to build a relationship with your loan servicer. “It is helpful to know who to contact and what to say when you run into issues,” Plummer says, adding “a good relationship with the servicer can mean timely help when you need it.”

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6 Tips for Repaying Nursing Student Loans

Paying for nursing school is a tremendous investment in your career, but like any investment, careful planning and management maximize the return on your nursing student loans.

  1. 1

    Income-based Repayment

    Personal finance expert Elena Jones suggests, “Perhaps the majority of student nurses are unaware of the benefits of enlisting in an income-driven repayment plan strategy.”

    As the name indicates, the amount you pay is based on your income, so if you are just starting out or have to take a low-paying job for a while, this is an excellent option for repaying nursing student loans.

  2. 2

    Pay 10% Each Month

    If you can afford to, Plummer recommends paying at least 10% of your nursing student loan debt each month. “You can get debt-free faster the more you can pay, but 10% is a good ballpark number to try to hit.”

  3. 3

    Avoid Taking Out Other Loans

    Financial advisor Michael Ryan urges keeping your debt levels low. “The amount of debt you have in relation to your credit limit (known as your credit utilization ratio) can also impact your score. If you have a lot of debt and a low credit limit, your credit score will suffer.”

    Most often, having maxed out credit cards is associated with a high credit utilization rate. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit card balance less than 30% of the total available limit throughout the month.

  4. 4

    Pay On Time

    Making even a single late payment, whether on a student loan or credit card balance, can negatively affect your score. This is an addition to the potential penalty you may have to pay.

    Lenders often report late payments to the credit bureaus after being late for at least 30 days. As such, there is some room for error if you’re a day or two late on a bill.

    The best way to avoid paying late is by setting up automated payments, even for just the minimum balance.

  5. 5

    Pay Off the Principle

    Interest accumulates on the unpaid principal of the loan, so if you can pay even a small amount from your salary beyond the required monthly payment, that will soon add up. Consider putting any bonuses or overtime to the principal of your nursing student loans.

  6. 6

    Consider a Forgiveness Program

    If you work in an underserved area, for the military, or for other government agencies like the Indian Health Service, you may be eligible for complete loan forgiveness from the federal government.

FAQ: Nursing Student Loans and Credit Health

question-mark-circleDo student loans affect your credit?

Nursing student loans definitely affect your credit. If you repay promptly and do not carry too much other debt, you will improve your credit. But skipped payments or late payments can affect your credit history for years.

​​question-mark-circleHow do nurses pay off student loans?

Nurses can pay off student loans through their salaries or through loan forgiveness programs. If you can set aside even a little extra each month to add to your loan payment, you can repay it much sooner.

question-mark-circleCan your student loans be forgiven if you are a nurse?

There are legitimate nursing student loan forgiveness programs, but there are also several scams. Warning signs include organizations asking for your financial information, asking for upfront payments to process loan forgiveness, or calling or texting you out of the blue.

question-mark-circleCan you buy a house if you have student loan debt?

Yes, you can buy a house if you have student loan debt. However, if you have a high amount of nursing student loan debt or a history of missing payments, you may be asked to pay a much higher mortgage rate or be able to borrow less than if you had smaller debt or a history of paying on time.

Last review date: June 6, 2022

Meet Our Contributors

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan was a financial advisor with the largest financial planning firm in America. He owned his own financial planning firm, as well as a property and casualty company. Now, as a retired financial planner, he offers financial coaching to small business owners and individuals. He recently launched a financial literacy website at www.michaelryanmoney.com.

Portrait of Elena Jones

Elena Jones

Elena is a credit and personal finance expert and founder at Finance Jar. At Finance Jar, they are dedicated to providing fresh, accurate, and honest guidance to anyone who needs it.


Portrait of Shawn Plummer

Shawn Plummer

Shawn Plummer is a long-time personal finance and investing advisor and CEO at The Annuity Expert.


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