Working as a nurse can be a great way to give back to the community and help others. It can also be a lucrative field with in-demand jobs.
The big drawback? Studying to become a nurse is likely to result in a hefty student loan balance. Luckily, student loan forgiveness for nurses is available through a variety of programs.
If you’re a nurse with student loans, check out our complete guide to student loan forgiveness for nurses.
Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge
If you have Federal Perkins loans and work as a full-time nurse, you may qualify to get up to 100 percent of your loans discharged. Score!
Nurses must be registered and employed full-time; loans are discharged over a period of 5 years. In order to apply for this program, you must apply either through your school that disbursed the Perkins Loans or through your loan servicer.
The Perkins Loan program expired on Sept. 30. You must have borrowed before that date to be eligible for the cancellation program.
NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program is a unique program geared toward nurses who work in underserved communities at Critical Shortage Facilities (CSFs).
Registered nurses who work at least 32 hours a week at a qualified facility can get 60 percent of their student loans paid in two years of employment. Borrowers have the option of getting an additional 25 percent of their loans paid by the NURSE Corps program for a third year.
Applications are only accepted once a year. Before applying, check out the program requirements and guidelines to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
If you work in the public sector, you may be able to get your loans forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness after working full-time and making consecutive payments for 10 years.
All Direct Loans that are in good standing (i.e. not in default) are eligible for forgiveness. Borrowers must work at least 30 hours per week at a public health agency in order to be eligible.
Only payments made after October 2007 qualify for this program. To help you stay on track, be sure to fill out the Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form and submit it to FedLoan Servicing, which is the loan servicer for this particular program. The good news is that unlike forgiveness with an income-driven plan, your forgiven loans under PSLF are not considered taxable income.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses: Programs By State
Depending on where you live, there may be nurse student loan forgiveness programs in your area. Check out what options are available by state:
Alaska’s SHARP program is designed to recruit healthcare professionals to work in specified shortage areas in exchange for loan assistance.
Nurses are eligible for loan repayment under their Tier-2 program and can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan assistance, depending on their positions. Eligible sites must be designated service shortage areas and each site must offer an employer match as part of the program.
Under the Arizona Loan Repayment Program, qualified health care professionals working in Health Professional Shortage Areas can receive loan assistance to help pay off their student loan debt.
Nurse practitioners can either work full- or half-time and must commit to working at a qualified site for at least two years. This program is rather generous: nurses can receive up to $50,000 in repayment assistance for each year of service.
Live in the Golden State? If you’re a nurse, you may qualify for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Loan Repayment program.
Registered nurses who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area can receive up to $8,000. You must commit to working for two years at a qualifying organization. Recipients of the award can apply again and get up to $11,000 in repayment assistance.
Through the Colorado Health Service Corps program, nurse practitioners who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area may be eligible for loan assistance.
Nurses must work for a period of three years at a qualifying organization. This program offers assistance for nurses on both a full-time and half-time basis. Full-time nurses can receive up to $50,000 and nurses who work half-time are eligible for up to $25,000.
In 1989, the Florida legislature created the Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program to encourage nurses to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas in exchange for loan repayment assistance. The program offers up to $4,000 per year, for a maximum of four years, to nurses who work full-time at qualifying organizations.
In order to qualify, nurses must be licensed in the state of Florida as an LPN, RN, or ARNP and have student loans from a nursing education program.
Nurse practitioners in Hawaii who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas may be able to receive loan assistance through The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program.
Applicants must work full-time for two years or half-time for four years at a qualifying organization. This is a grant-funded program, so the amount awarded depends on funds available.
Under the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program, health care practitioners who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas may be eligible for awards that range from $5,000 to $25,000 each year, for two years. This program is available to a variety of health care professionals who work in a nonprofit or public setting.
Nurses in Illinois who commit to working in veterans’ homes may be eligible for loan assistance of up to $5,000 per year for a period of four years.
In order to be eligible for The Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, nurses must be Illinois residents, meet certain licensing requirements from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation , and have their employment verified in good standing by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The State of Iowa has a loan assistance program called the Iowa Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides an award of up to 20 percent of the recipient’s student loan balance.
The maximum award amount for a 2015 graduate is $6,658. In order to qualify for this program, nurses must be employed in Iowa. Nurse educators are also eligible for the program if they hold a master’s degree or higher and teach at a qualified college or university.
Applicants must be employed at least quarter-time and be in good standing with their federal student loans. Eligible candidates may qualify for forgiveness for no more than five consecutive years.
Under The Kansas State Loan Repayment Program, nurse practitioners can receive up to $20,000 in repayment assistance by committing to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years. The program is competitive and open to other health care professionals as well — as of 2014, 14 percent of the awards were given to nurses.
The Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program is a unique program that offers loan repayment as a 50/50 match. In other words, for every dollar provided by the program, there must be a match of the same amount by a sponsor, such as an employer, foundation, or friend.
Nurse practitioners in Kentucky can take advantage of this program if they work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years. Nurses can receive repayment assistance between $20,000 and $40,000 depending on their designation.
The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program was created to encourage health care professionals to serve in rural or inner-city communities in exchange for loan assistance.
Nurses who work full-time at a designated Health Professional Shortage Area, or at a nonprofit may be able to receive up to $15,000 each year with a three-year commitment. Eligible nurses must be licensed in Louisiana and be in good standing with their student loans.
Through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program, Maryland residents who work as nurses at qualified organizations serving low-income and underserved residents may be eligible for loan assistance.
Eligible candidates must be employed full-time and have earned a degree in Maryland. In addition, your gross salary may not be more than $60,000. Award amounts depend on how much student loan debt you have, but can range from $1,500 to $10,000 per year, for a period of three years.
The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for nurse practitioners who work in underserved communities. Nurses who work full-time and commit to working at least two years in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area can receive up to $200,000 to pay back their student loans throughout a period of eight years.
The Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program offers repayment assistance to licensed practical or registered nurses who work with the developmentally disabled or in a licensed nursing home for at least two years, with the possibility of extending the program for another two years.
Eligible candidates may receive $5,000 each year, with a maximum award of $20,000 over a four-year period.
The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work full-time at a Montana state hospital or prison. Eligible candidates must submit proof that their current loan balance is at least $1,000.
The amount awarded depends on the number of candidates, as well as available state funding. Program participants can apply for repayment assistance for up to four years.
The Nebraska Loan Repayment Program is a matching fund program to help recruit healthcare professionals; local entities will match state dollars in order to pay for employees’ loan assistance.
Nurse practitioners are eligible for this program if they commit to working for three years in a designated shortage area. Eligible candidates can receive up to $20,000 each year.
Under The New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program, nurse practitioners who work in underserved areas may be eligible for awards up to $45,000. Eligible candidates must work full-time for at least 36 months. If interested, candidates can extend the program for another 24 months and receive up to $20,000.
Through the Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey, certified nurse practitioners who work in specific Health Professional Shortage Areas or underserved areas may be eligible for significant loan repayment assistance.
Eligible candidates must work full-time for at least two years to qualify, with an option to extend the program an additional two years. The amount you are awarded depends on your outstanding balance as well as how many years you served. The award goes up to $120,000 for a four-year service period.
The New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program offers up to $25,000 per year for advance practice nurses who work full-time in a medical shortage area for two years. Candidates who work in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas can receive up to $35,000 per year. Eligible candidates must be residents and licensed in New Mexico.
The New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program was created to attract adjunct clinical faculty and nursing faculty members to teach nursing in New York State. The program offers registered nurses with graduate degrees who have worked as educators in the field of nursing up to $40,000.
Eligible candidates can receive $8,000 per year for a period of five years under this program.
Under the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program, Ohio nursing students who plan on working as instructors or nurses post-graduation may be eligible for loan assistance. Essentially, this program offers a loan of up to $1,500 per year and nurses can receive up to 100 percent loan cancellation after working as a full-time nurse in Ohio for five years.
Through the Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment (SLRP) program, a variety of healthcare providers, including nurse practitioners and registered nurses, are eligible for repayment assistance by working in a Health Professional Shortage Area.
There’s a two-year service requirement and providers may be eligible for two one-year extensions after their initial commitment. Awards are based on a variety of factors, but are ultimately a percentage of your loan balance.
The Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work full-time in designated Health Professional Shortage areas. Eligible candidates can receive up to $60,000, while half-time workers can receive up to $30,000. The service commitment is two years.
Under the Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment program, nurse practitioners and registered nurses who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas may qualify for loan assistance. Award amounts may vary and recipients are required to make a two-year commitment for full-time work and four years for part-time.
In addition, nurse educators in Rhode Island may be eligible for the Nurse Educators Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers awards for nursing faculty of up to $5,000 each year, for up to four years.
The Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage Tennessee nurses to become educators. Eligible candidates must be residents as well as have a nursing license and be enrolled in a higher education nursing program.
Candidates must work full-time for four years in order to have their loans forgiven. Essentially, this program is a type of student loan that will be forgiven after working as a teacher for a period of time.
The Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program offers loan reimbursements to health care providers who are not physicians. Eligible candidates must commit to working at least 12 months and can receive awards of up to $10,000.
Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program for Nurses offers a maximum annual loan repayment award of $10,000, with a commitment of 12-24 months at a time in an underserved area, designated by the program. Nurses must agree to working a minimum of 45 weeks each year, with 20 hours per week dedicated to clinical hours, in order to qualify for the program.
The Virginia State Loan Repayment Program could grant practicing nurses that have obtained a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree in nursing up to $25,000 per year toward their outstanding student loan balances.
Eligible candidates must commit to two-years of service. Additional extensions of the program can grant up to $35,000 per year toward student loan balances. In order to be eligible, applicants must have obtained their degrees from school that are accredited by the National League of Nursing and be working in their field for at least 40 hours a week.
Through the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, health professionals who work in facilities that are located in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas may be eligible for loan assistance.
The program requires a three-year working commitment in exchange for an award of up to $75,000. Applicants are required to work as primary care providers.
West Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program offers loan repayment for nurses practicing full-time for a minimum of two years in rural, underserved areas.
Qualifying sites must be in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Eligible candidates can receive up to $40,000 under a two-year commitment and may receive an additional $25,000 for another two years if the contract is extended.
Through the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program, nurses in Wisconsin may receive up to $100,000 in loan assistance. Eligible candidates must commit to working at least three years in a qualified underserved or urban community.
The Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for nurses who work full-time in qualifying Health Professional Shortage Areas. Eligible candidates must commit to working for at least two years in exchange for an award of up to $20,000.
Student loan forgiveness for nurses is available through many programs at the federal and state level. Each program is different and may change year to year, so it’s important to look up eligibility requirements and application deadlines.
In addition, some awards may be considered taxable income, so be sure to factor that into your debt repayment plan.
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