Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

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Updated January 19, 2023 · 3 Min Read

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Student loan forgiveness for nurses can greatly reduce your student loan debt. Learn about nursing loan forgiveness programs and how to apply.
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Congress froze student loan payments in March 2020 with the passage of the CARES Act, but for millions of borrowers, that reprieve will expire in January 2023. Roughly 45 million borrowers owe $1.6 trillion in student debt. To help borrowers repay their debt, the White House is offering up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. This page outlines the new federal relief plan for all borrowers and loan forgiveness programs just for nurses.

Check out this article to make sure you don't miss any free government money.

What Is Loan Forgiveness and How Does It Work?

Student loan forgiveness programs traditionally reward public service professionals working in high-need places, such as nurses and teachers who provide care in underserved communities. As an incentive to work in an underserved population, programs provide full or partial loan forgiveness. If borrowers meet the requirements and fulfill their work commitments, they can have their debt wiped out. Funding goes directly to their outstanding balance after they submit an application and supplement material, like income data.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

Most loan forgiveness programs require nurses to care for underserved populations or fill other unmet needs. These may involve working for specific organizations, working in specific locations, or serving in the military.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment

To help address the shortage of nursing school faculty, the Health Resources and Services Administration offers forgiveness of up to 85% of loans (plus interest) for registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), or nursing faculty. You must work for up to three years in a critical shortage facility (CSF) or an accredited nursing school.

Who Is Eligible: RNs, APRNs, or nurse faculty with student debt, with a degree from an accredited school, who works in a CSF, or teaches nursing

Learn More About/Apply to Nurse Corps Loan Repayment.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers student loan forgiveness for nurses who are working full time for a government or nonprofit organization by paying off the remainder of their loans after the first 120 payments. You must either have a William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan or consolidate existing loans into a Direct Loan.

See the program website for student loan forgiveness for nurses and COVID-19 considerations.

Who Is Eligible: Nurses working full time for a government (including tribal government and the military) or nonprofit organization, who have made 120 income-based payments and have a remaining balance (Note: You can apply to PSLF while working and before reaching 120 payments to ensure existing payments you're making qualify.)

Learn More About/Apply to Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

If you received a Perkins Loan before 2017 and have worked in an underserved area, then you may be eligible for a student loan forgiveness for nurses program. If you worked in an underserved area for at least five years, you may be eligible for 100% forgiveness.

Who Is Eligible: Nurses who work in underserved areas

Learn More About/Apply to Perkins Loan Cancellation.

Army Nurse Corps Benefits/Health Professions Loan Repayment Program

If you enlist in active duty or the Army Reserve, you can receive up to $250,000 in student loan forgiveness for nurses, paid directly to your lender. (The amount varies based on the medical specialty.)

You may also be eligible for a signing bonus of up to $30,000 and other benefits, including a salary and housing allowance. The Army also offers several scholarships to attend school.

Who Is Eligible: Nurses or other healthcare professionals

Learn More About/Apply to Army Nurse Corps.

Disadvantaged Faculty Loan Repayment Program

Nursing school faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds who have at least a two-year contract to teach nursing at a public or nonprofit school are eligible for up to $40,000 in loan repayment, plus funding to offset the tax burden. You are also eligible if you teach nursing at a graduate-level public health program.

Who Is Eligible: RN or APRN graduates teaching at a public or nonprofit school

Learn More About/Apply to Disadvantaged Faculty Loan Repayment Program.

National Health Service Corps — Indian Health Service

Nurse practitioners or nurse midwives with student loan debt who commit to working for the Indian Health Service in Indian Health Service facilities, tribally-operated 638 health programs, and Urban Indian Health Programs for at least two years can receive up to $40,000 per year until their loans are repaid. You do not have to be of Indigenous American heritage to participate.

Who Is Eligible: Nurse practitioners in adult, family, geriatric, pediatric, or women's health specialties, psychiatric nurse specialists, or certified nurse midwives

Learn More About/Apply to Indian Health Service.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program (LRP)

The NHSC loan forgiveness program is available to APRNs who are Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers in an NHSC-approved health professional shortage area. Full-time practitioners can receive up to $50,000 for two years, and part-time practitioners can receive $25,000.

Who Is Eligible: Nurse practitioners in adult, family, geriatric, pediatric, or women's health specialties, psychiatric nurse specialists, or certified nurse midwives

Learn More About/Apply to National Health Service Corps.

NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce

The NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce LRP program is available to nurse practitioners or mental health nurse specialists who participate in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. They must also work in a primary care medical or mental/behavioral health discipline at an NHSC-approved substance misuse treatment facility. The program pays up to $75,000 for three years.

Who Is Eligible: Nurse practitioner or psychiatric nurse specialists

Learn More About/Apply to National Health Service Corps.

NHSC Rural Community LRP

The NHSC Rural Community loan forgiveness program is available to full-time APRNs who are substance use disorder care providers to Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP in a rural health professional shortage area. They must work for NHSC-approved nonprofit or governmental organizations. This program forgives up to $100,000 in loans for three years of full-time service or $50,000 for three years of part-time service.

Who Is Eligible: Nurse practitioners in adult, family, or women's health specialties, psychiatric nurse specialists, or certified nurse midwives

Learn More About/Apply to National Health Service Corps.

FAQ: Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Will student loans be forgiven for nurses?

Yes, if a nurse meets the criteria, their student loans can be partially or fully forgiven. Each student loan program requires borrowers to meet income and work requirements. Often, nurses must work in underserved areas for a length of time.

Do nurses qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Nurses can qualify for student loan relief under the Biden administration and other programs.

Can my student loan be forgiven due to COVID?

No, the government does not offer a COVID-related student loan forgiveness program. However, the federal government has frozen student loan payments until January 2023 because of the economic effects of the pandemic.

Will 2021 student loan relief be extended?

The Biden administration has not announced any plans to extend the student loan relief program, which suspends payments and sets interest rates to 0% on eligible loans until January 2023.

How can I get rid of student loans without paying them?

See if you qualify for student loan forgiveness based on where you work. For instance, nurses in a critical shortage facility or in underserved areas can get rid of their debt if they work there for a certain time period.


Page last reviewed October 7, 2022

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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