Nursing is one of the fastest-growing professions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 2016 and 2026, employment for registered nurses is expected to grow by 15%. That rise is due, in part, to an increased need for care among aging baby boomers. If you’re looking for a job with long-term staying power, nursing might be a good choice.
However, becoming a registered nurse means going to college. For many students, that also means student loans. Here’s what all nursing students should know about their loan options.
Federal subsidized and unsubsidized student loans for nursing school
As a nursing student, you likely have access to federal student loans. Begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify.
Most students will qualify for Direct Unsubsidized Loans. But if you can prove financial need, you might qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan.
The biggest difference between these two types of loans is who pays the interest. With unsubsidized debt, you’re responsible for paying all the interest charges. On a federally subsidized loan, the government will pay the interest that accrues during specific periods.
The government offers eligible first-year undergraduate students up to a combined $5,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. You can borrow up to $6,500 during your second year and $7,500 during your third year and beyond. Independent students and graduate students have higher borrowing limits. However, grad students are only eligible for unsubsidized loans.
To qualify, you don’t have to worry about meeting credit requirements or having an income. Plus, you don’t need to start repaying the loan until after you graduate.
For both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, the interest rate is 4.45% for undergraduate students and 6.00% for graduate students.
- Almost anyone can get unsubsidized federal student loans.
- Interest rates are set by the government and offered to all borrowers.
- You can put off repayment until you graduate.
- Eligible for income-driven repayment (IDR) and federal loan forgiveness.
- If you qualify for subsidized student loans, the government pays your interest while you’re in school.
- Not everyone qualifies for subsidized student loans.
- Interest on unsubsidized loans begins accruing immediately.
- You have limits on how much you can borrow.
- Those with excellent credit might find better interest rates elsewhere.
Federal PLUS Loans
There are two types of federal PLUS Loans that might be useful as you pursue your nursing degree: Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS loans.
A Parent PLUS Loan allows parents to help pay for their dependent student’s undergraduate career. With this type of loan, they can borrow up to the school’s cost of attendance minus other financial aid received. Meanwhile, you can take out a Grad PLUS Loan to help pay for your advanced degree.
Both types of loans come with a 7.00% interest rate, and borrowers won’t qualify if they have adverse credit. An adverse credit history includes items such as default, bankruptcy, tax lien, wage garnishment, foreclosure, and repossession in the last five years.
- Either loan can help you cover a gap in funding.
- A parent can help their undergraduate student pay for school.
- The interest rate is higher than for many other student loans.
- Borrowers must meet credit requirements.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) student loans
HRSA student loans are aimed at helping students in health professions, including nursing.
Nursing Student Loans are low-interest and available to full-time disadvantaged students. However, these loans aren’t offered by the government directly. Instead, schools participate in the program to offer the loans, which have a fixed interest rate of 5.00%.
These loans are made on a first-come, first-served basis and until funding runs out for the year. You can check the HRSA website to see if your school participates in this program.
- It comes with a fixed interest rate of 5.00%.
- Low-income and other disadvantaged students can get additional funding for nursing school.
- You don’t need to meet credit criteria.
- The program has limited funds.
- HRSA student loans aren’t available at all nursing schools.
Private student loans for nursing school
It’s also possible to pay for your nursing degree using private student loans. Many private education lenders are willing to fund your expenses. Some private lenders, such as Ascent, even specialize in providing loans to students pursuing a career in a health profession.
Each private lender sets its own credit and income qualifications that borrowers must meet. Additionally, you might have to start repaying the loan immediately, rather than waiting until you finish your nursing degree. However, you can find private lenders that offer a grace period and allow you to postpone payments until after graduation.
If you don’t meet the criteria for a private student loan on your own, a cosigner can help. With a qualified cosigner, you can get the loan you need to fund your education.
On top of that, you might also be able to get an interest rate that’s lower than current federal rates. Additionally, some lenders offer variable rates on their loans and provide other perks, such as hardship programs and rate discounts for autopay.
- You might qualify for rates that are lower than those on federal student loans.
- You could borrow more than what’s allowed with certain federal loans.
- Some lenders offer special repayment programs.
- You don’t need to qualify for federal aid to apply.
- Excellent credit and a healthy income are required for the best rates.
- These loans don’t qualify for IDR plans or federal loan forgiveness programs.
- Variable rates can increase over time.
- You might have to begin repayment while still in school.
Reduce your need for student loan debt
Student loans are a useful way to fund your nursing degree but don’t take on more debt than you can handle. Look for ways to reduce your need for student loans by working during school, applying for scholarships and grants, and attending an affordable program.
Student loans for nursing school can be an investment that pays off in the long run, but there’s no reason to borrow more than you have to.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
1 = Citizens Disclaimer.
2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
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|3.54% - 12.07%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|4.11% - 12.19%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.00% - 11.85%*3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|2.93% - 9.67%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|3.80% - 11.99%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|
|4.53% - 9.69%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|