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Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

March 3, 2022 , Modified on June 9, 2022 · 0 Min Read

Student loan forgiveness for nurses can greatly reduce your student loan debt. Learn about nursing loan forgiveness programs and how to apply.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Nursing school can be expensive, especially at the BSN, MSN, and DNP levels. If you're working and burdened by loans, this guide explores several options for student loan forgiveness, specifically for nurses. You can be free of most or even all of your student loan debt in just a few years. Keep reading to learn more about how to start enjoying or saving more of your salary today.

What is Loan Forgiveness, and How Does it Work?

Nursing graduates can turn to student loan forgiveness programs and cancellation programs to help eliminate their student debt. Programs may offer full or partial financial help when nurses commit to working in underserved areas.

Dr. Karen Crowley, associate professor at the School of Nursing at Regis College, explains that student loan forgiveness programs offer the chance to eliminate student loan debt and gain continued job security. However, nurses should understand program specifications before accepting funds.

"It is essential that nursing students and nurses understand what will be required of them, for how long, and decide if these requirements are something they see as feasible," she says.

Student loan forgiveness programs come with strings attached. Many require students to fulfill work commitments for at least two years. Crowley reminds nurses that, "because of the requirements set by these programs, nurses won't have the flexibility of where they work or switching employers without loss of the forgiveness benefits."

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 RNs, 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: RN, APRN, 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 medical 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/year until their loans are repaid. You do not have to be of Indian/Native 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 the 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 abuse treatment facility. The program pays up to $75,000 for three years.

Who is Eligible: NPs 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 abuse 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


Do nurses qualify for student loan forgiveness?

The NHSC and other government organizations offer student loan forgiveness for nurses. These programs typically require nurses to work in an underserved area, for specific providers, or in the military for up to three years. You can pay as much as 100% of your loans, and the benefits may be tax free.

Can my student loan be forgiven due to Covid?

There is no federal student loan forgiveness for nurses because of COVID-19, but students are eligible for a no-interest payment freeze through August 31, 2022. However, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was overhauled and expanded because of COVID. Loan forgiveness for those with total and permanent disabilities was also expanded.

Will 2021 student loan relief be extended?

As of April 2022, students are eligible for a no-interest payment freeze through August 31, 2022. If you have a traditional repayment plan, your payment period will be extended. However, if you have an income-based plan, your loan repayment period will remain the same. If your payments are too high, you may be eligible to change to income-based repayment.

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

Student loan forgiveness programs for nurses can let you complete public service (such as working in an under-served area, working for designated nonprofits or government organizations, enrolling in the Army or Army Reserves, or teaching nursing) to write off part or all of your student loans.

Page last reviewed: April 24, 2022


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