Nursing Jobs to Help You Pay Off Student Loans Most Quickly


Published May 11, 2022

You can graduate nursing school with lower debt or quickly become debt-free. Learn about nursing jobs to pay off student debt and federal loan forgiveness programs.

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Nursing Jobs to Help You Pay Off Student Loans Most Quickly
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Graduating nursing school without debt — or paying your loans back quickly — might seem impossible. But some jobs can help you pay off student loans even while you're studying. There are also legitimate ways to pay your full debt in four years or faster.

This guide outlines possible healthcare jobs while in nursing school, jobs with loan forgiveness options, and the highest-paying nursing jobs that will let you repay your debt quickly. Keep reading to find out how to minimize your debt and maximize your salary.

Nursing Jobs to Help You Pay Off Student Loan Debt

In addition to scholarships and grants, there are various jobs that can help pay off student loans before and after graduation. Some nursing jobs even offer loan repayment options.

Jobs You Can Work While in Nursing School

Healthcare offers some of the best options to pay off student loans. One of the advantages of working in healthcare while in nursing school is that you can build your network and get exposure to different specialties. This can help you find mentors or coaches, plan your electives or specialty area, and job hunt once you graduate.
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    Because it takes just 4-12 weeks to become a CNA and courses are very affordable, you might consider earning your CNA license before you earn your nursing degree. The pay is considerably lower than RN salaries, but it will help you build your professional network. CNAs assist nurses and patients with activities of daily living (ADLs).

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    Medical Transporter

    Medical transporters help patients get to where they need to go. They may assist patients on stretchers, gurneys, or wheelchairs, and accompany them to and from their destination. Hospitals typically provide training for this job.

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    Nursing Assistant

    Once you've passed certain basic courses, you may be eligible to work as a nursing assistant and help patients with ADLs. Most states require CPR certification for this role.

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    Monitor Technician

    Monitor technicians work in an ICU or similar unit and keep track of heart rate monitors. They alert RNs or physicians if a monitor shows signs that indicate a patient needs attention. Depending on the state and hospital, you may need training in reading an EKG or other monitoring results.

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    Phlebotomists draw blood in hospitals, labs, or blood donor centers. Some employers provide training, while others require you to have passed the relevant nursing skills course.

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    Medical Technician

    Most medical technician jobs require you to have passed some nursing skills courses. Job duties vary but generally include tracking supplies, adding information to medical records, and maintaining a sterile environment.

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Jobs That Offer Loan Repayment

The government offers several nursing jobs that help pay off student loans. Nurses who work in any nonprofit or government setting are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Nurses working in underserved areas or in the military are eligible for even more extensive loan forgiveness. Please note that the National Health Service Corps programs have specific application periods.

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    Nonprofit or government nursing

    Nurses in nonprofit (501(c)3) or government hospitals, including federal, state, and tribal governments, are eligible for PSLF if they work full time and have made at least 120 payments toward their loan. Most hospitals are eligible for 501(c)3s.

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    National Health Service Corps (NHSC) APRN

    Nurse practitioners (except for neonatal), certified nurse midwives (CNW), and psychiatric nurse specialists working in specified areas with a shortage of primary care providers are eligible for NHSC loan repayment.

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    NHSC Substance Use Disorder (SUD) RN or APRN

    RNs, NPs, CNWs, and psychiatric nurse specialists working in NHSC-approved substance abuse disorder sites are eligible for NHSC-SUD loan forgiveness.

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    NHSC Students to Service NP or CNM

    If you're in the last year of your NP or CNM program and commit to at least three years of service in an NHSC-approved site, you can receive up to $30,000 in loan repayment each year for three years, with eligibility to continue and receive further forgiveness through the Students to Service program.

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    NHSC Rural RN, NP, or CNM

    You may be eligible for the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program if you work in an approved rural SUD setting as an RN, NP, or CNM.

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    NHSC Nurse Corps Loan

    RNs, NPs, and nursing school faculty may be eligible for NHSC Nurse Corps loan forgiveness in exchange for teaching nursing or working in an underserved area.

High-Paying Nursing Jobs

An alternative to loan forgiveness is obtaining a high-paying nursing job after graduating and paying off your loan from your earnings. This gives you more flexibility than most loan forgiveness programs since you can work and earn anywhere. Except for travel nursing, these jobs are all APRN jobs and require at least an MSN.

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    Travel Nurse

    Travel nurses go to where the demand is highest. During COVID-19, travel nurses could earn twice as much as regular nurses because hospitals were so understaffed. Demand is still high and so is travel nurse pay due to the ongoing shortage.

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    Nurse Anesthetist

    Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid nurses, earning a median salary of $195,610 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Starting in 2025, new nurse anesthetists must have a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

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    Neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP)

    NNPs work with newborns, either in a standard neonatal department or the neonatal intensive care unit. The 2019 median salary is $122,500, according to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

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    Psychiatric nurse practitioner

    Psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioners provide treatment for mental and behavioral health conditions. The 2019 median salary for this role is $125,000, according to AANP.

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    Adult-geriatric nurse practitioner

    Adult-geriatric nurse practitioners care for adolescent and adult patients. AANP reports the median salary is $115,500 in 2019.

FAQ: Paying Off Nursing Student Loans

How do nurses pay off student loans?

Nurses can pay off student loans through loan forgiveness programs or their earnings. The median loan debt was $40,000-$54,999 for graduate nursing students, according to a 2017 American Association of Colleges of Nursing report. Nurses who work in nonprofit or government hospitals, in designated underserved areas, or in the military may be eligible for loan forgiveness.

Do nurses qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Nurses qualify for a variety of student loan forgiveness programs, typically in exchange for working for a nonprofit or government provider, in an under-served area, or for the military. Nurses are also eligible for the COVID-19 loan forbearance program through August 31, 2022.

How can a nurse pay off student loans faster?

Nurses can look for high-paying nursing jobs to pay off student loans, enter a loan forgiveness program, consolidate loans, or take advantage of income-based payment programs. Federal loan servicers are legally required to provide free advice on repaying your loans.

Will hospitals pay off student loans?

Some hospitals will pay off student loans in exchange for a commitment to work for that hospital for a certain period. Cleveland Clinic and Rush University Medical Center are two of the largest hospitals that pay student loans for eligible nurses. If you work at a government or nonprofit hospital, you may be eligible for PSLF.

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