Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
Have Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness benefits changed in 2017?
Short answer: no. Long answer: They might, depending entirely on what President Donald Trump decides to do to Federal student loan forgiveness benefits.
But for now, Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses remain widely available via a series of Federal and State-based financial assistance programs, all of which have remained fully-funded for 2017, even as Government budgets have been cut dramatically in some other areas.
This country still has a major manpower problem in nursing, with far too few qualified nurses in the workforce, and these programs have been created to try to encourage more people to get into the nursing field.
Nursing forgiveness benefits are some of the best offered by both the Federal Government, and State Governments, so they’re absolutely worth exploring if you think there’s any chance you might qualify for assistance.
The forgiveness benefits available to nurses are second to none, making them an excellent option for anyone struggling to deal with excessive student loans, and in my opinion, making nursing a far more lucrative, more attractive profession than ever before (it was already a really good option, but now it’s even better).
Who Qualifies for Nursing Benefits?
No matter where you live in the United States, as a nurse, you are virtually guaranteed to have access to at least some form of student loan relief, whether that comes through the federally-funded nursing loan repayment program, or a state-funded nursing loan forgiveness program, and there’s still no signs that this will change in 2017, unless President Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program dramatically undoes everything that President Obama’s Loan Forgiveness Program put in place just a few years ago.
Benefits available to nurses are determined by the location in which they live, the position in which they serve (RN vs. Nurse Practitioner, etc.), the actual work duties that they complete, and their level of education (Associate’s Degree vs. BSN vs. MSN, etc.).
The good news that I’m happy to share with all of you nurses and nursing students is that you are virtually guaranteed to have access to some form of debt forgiveness, and that it’s likely to be far superior to the forms available to virtually everyone else. Nursing forgiveness benefits typically match or even exceed those offered to Teachers, Military Personnel, Government Workers and Non-Profit Employees.
My advice to any nursing struggling with student loan debt is that they should read this article in its entirety before deciding what to do. Another good idea would be to check out all of the other articles found within my site’s Nursing section, so that you’ve got a complete picture of all the benefits available to different types of nurses, and ensuring that you’re armed with all the information needed to make a good decision about how best to attack your loans.
Federal Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
In 2017, there are three major federally-funded programs currently offering nursing loan forgiveness benefits. These programs include:
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC)
- Perkins Loan Discharge or Loan Cancellation for Nurses
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Here’s a basic introduction to how each of these programs work (for additional details, check out the individual program pages linked below):
The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
Abbreviated the NHSC Program, and previously referred to as the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), this program was created to help finance education costs for Registered Nurses (RN’s) who work in underserved hospitals and clinics.
But What Is the Official Definition of “Underserved”?
“Underserved” hospitals and clinics are those located in areas where the Federal Government has determined that people don’t have easy access to healthcare services.
The NHSC Program shows that the Federal Government is willing to pay RN’s to work in poor urban or rural communities in need of additional nurses (typically because most nurses simply don’t want to work there, and for those of you still in Nursing school, or looking to relocate to new positions, it’s a huge incentive worth considering taking advantage of.
This program is similar to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, in that it encourges well-trained Americans to do jobs that they might otherwise pass over, in the case of the PSLF program, it’s taking lower salaried, public service jobs, and in the case of the NHSC Program, it’s accepting positions in areas where many people simply do not want to live or work.
Please take this program into consideration though, because NHSC benefits are no joke. In fact, the benefits are so substantial that it’s become extremely competitive, requiring applications and a selection process to receive approval. And I am not surprised about that in the slightest, because these benefits are substantial, and definitely worth pursuing.
How Do You Qualify for NHSC Benefits?
- For 2 years of nursing service at a qualifying facility, the Federal Government will pay off 60% of your qualifying nursing loans
- For 1 additional year of nursing service, the Federal Government will pay off another 25% of your original loan balance
That makes this far and away the most valuable nursing loan repayment program around (and, in reality, one of the most lucrative Federal forgiveness programs PERIOD), so be sure to get your applications in early, because the application season only runs for three months (from January to March).
For additional details, please visit my page about the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.
Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses & Medical Technicians
Since it’s more widely known as the “Teacher Loan Cancellation Program“, many people don’t realize that Federal Perkins Loans can also be discharged by Nurses and Licensed Medical Technicians!
There’s only one downside to the Perkins Loan Cancellation Program – there aren’t too many people with Perkins loans in the first place!
If you’re one of the lucky few that took out a Perkins loan, and you work as a Nurse or Licensed Medical Technician, then you should definitely take advantage of this program, as the benefits are substantial.
If you qualify for Perkins loan forgiveness benefits, then you’ll be eligible to have your entire Perkins loan discharged after serving in your field for just five years. There is simply no other forgiveness program that offers TOTAL forgiveness after just five years of any sort of service (including military service), so if you can qualify for this benefit, then you should pursue it with haste.
But wait… there’s more… because this is also one of the only loan forgiveness programs in existence that actually offers incremental forgiveness benefits, meaning that you’ll get some portion of your student loan debt forgiven for each individual year of service.
That makes this an extremely powerful forgiveness benefit, since not everyone will want to spend the entire five years working at an eligible role, and meaning that you could at least give the program a shot without having to worry that choosing to abandon ship 2-3 years into the effort will led to zero gain.
For additional details about how the program works, please visit my page about Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses and Licensed Medical Technicians.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Ever since the introduction of President Obama’s new Student Loan Forgiveness Program, the PSLF program has been a hotly contested, controversial benefit.
On the bright side, in my humble and honest opinion, there is simply no better, more powerful forgiveness benefit than PSLF, since it’s widely accessible (to more than just nurses), including anyone serving in a public service type role.
PSLF benefits provide complete Federal student loan forgiveness after serving in a qualifying role and making monthly payments for 10 years, with no cap on the amount of money that’s allowed to be forgiven.
And that is what makes PSLF so unbelievably powerful – it’s not forgiveness based on some percentage of your outstanding debt, but complete and total forgiveness for all of your debt, no matter how much you still owe.
Whether you’ve got $450,000 worth of debt, or just $10,000 of it left after making 10 years worth of qualifying payments, ALL OF IT will be wiped out once you’ve made that final, 120th payment, and secured your right to the benefit.
As of 2017, here’s how the PSLF program works, in detail:
- The program is available to anyone working a full-time position in public service jobs (health care, federal and state employees, education, etc.)
- Once you’ve made 120 monthly payments toward your Direct Loans, you’ll receive total forgiveness for whatever balance remains due
Though capping the benefit has been discussed, as it stands now in 2017, there’s still no limit to how much loan forgiveness you can qualify for, meaning that no matter how much you owe after you’ve made those 120 monthly payments, you won’t have to pay a single penny more.
To find out exactly how PSLF works, please visit my page about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
State-Funded Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, many states offer their own nursing loan forgiveness benefits, created to encourage local residents to take up roles in the industry, but also to poach much-needed nurses from other states.
State-funded nursing loan forgiveness benefits aren’t universal, and while some states have excellent programs, others don’t offer any financial assistance at all. It’s a bit of a luck of th draw sort of deal, where if you happen to live in the right spot, you’ll be eligible for some amazing financial assistance, but if you live in the wrong place, then you’re totally out of luck.
To find out if you’ll have access to any state-funded nursing student loan forgiveness benefits, find your state from the list below and read up about what’s available.
Alaska may have a relatively tiny population, especially for such a huge landmass, but they do offer an excellent nursing student loan forgiveness program called the SHARP program, which offers loan forgiveness to nurses willing to work in shortage areas.
Each year, SHARP benefits offer up to $27,000 in forgiveness, depending on the nurses specific position, but at that rate, it’s worth looking into potential career changes just to qualify for the benefit, even if you only plan on serving in that new role for a couple years.
Your official position must be on the list of approved roles, and you must work at an eligible facility, plus your employer must be willing to match the benefit offered by the Alaskan Government, but again, for $27,000 per year, it’s definitely worth looking into.
The Grand Canyon State offers an excellent nursing loan forgiveness benefit, appropriately titled the “Arizona Loan Repayment Program”, which helps all health care professionals (not just nurses) pay down their student loans in return for working in a qualifying role at an eligible facility.
And while we may not think of Arizona as being a well-funded state, this program offers incredible benefits, with up to $50,000 in loan forgiveness assistance for each year of service as a full or half-time nurse practitioner.
The only catch to this program is that you have to agree to work at one of the qualifying AZ clinics, hospitals or health centers for at least two years. However, again, at the rate of $50,000 per year, it’s almost undoubtedly worth it.
California isn’t just the most populous state in the union, it’s also one of the most generous!
For those looking to get into higher positions within the field of nursing (especially management or lead roles), California’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Loan Repayment Program is an excellent opportunity.
This program offers up to $8,000 the first time around, with a secondary qualification possible that includes up to $11,000 in additional compensation.
That’s $19,000 in loan forgiveness for nurses, which is certainly worth going after. To get the details on this program, visit our page about California Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment.
Colorado is another state with an excellent forgiveness program, offering benefits for both half-time and full-time nurses, but requiring three years of service at a qualifying facility.
That’s a little bit longer than some of the other state-funded programs call for, but the benefit here is quite substantial, with up to $25,000 available to half-time nurses and up to $50,000 available to full-time nurses.
If you already live in Colorado, or if you’re considering a move, then the Colorado Health Service Corps Program is one that you’ll definitely want to consider.
Those from the Sunshine State have access to an awesome program called the Florida Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program (NSLFP), which offers up to $4,000 per year in loan repayments, for a maximum of four years.
That’s $16,000 in potential loan forgiveness, and it’s eligible to anyone licensed as an LPN, RN, or ARNP in the state of Florida.
For details on these benefits, please view our page about Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness in Florida.
The Aloha State isn’t just a gorgeous place to live, featuring incredible weather and unbelievable scenery, it’s also an excellent place to work off your nursing school debt, as eligible nurses can receive significant financial benefits via The Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program.
Qualifying for the benefit requires working full-time for two ears, or half-time for four years, but in Hawaii? That time is sure to pass quicker than virtually anywhere else.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you just how much you’ll be able to earn from this benefit package, as the program is funded by grants, meaning that the amount of money you’ll receive is determined based on the amount of funds available at the time you qualify for the benefit.
Known best for its potatoes, Idaho also provides excellent benefits to qualifying nurses, or other health practitioners, willing to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas for two years.
Anyone who qualifies for the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program is eligible to earn between $5,000 and $25,000 per year, for a maximum period of two years total.
This program is offered to health care workers in nonprofit and public settings only.
If you need nursing loan forgiveness in Illinois, then you’re in luck as well!
Their Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program offers some excellent benefits, including up to $5,000 in annual student loan repayment assistance, with a maximum of four years of eligibility.
That’s $20,000 in loan forgiveness available to anyone who has a qualifying outstanding balance (a Federal student loan that was used to pursue their nursing education expenses), but it’s limited in who qualifies for the benefit because you’ve got to be a nurse educator to qualify.
For details, check out our page about the Illinois Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program.
Iowa’s nursing loan forgiveness program is called the “Iowa Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program”, which is a bit of a mouthful, but another benefit package worth looking into, as it offers paying down up to 20% of your outstanding student loans in return for qualifying service.
One of the best things about this program is that it’s available not just to nurses themselves, but also to anyone who has a master’s degree (or higher degree), and who teaches nursing at an eligible higher educational institution (college or university).
Also, employment requirements are pretty laid back for this program, with anyone working at least 1/4 time being eligible for the benefit. There are limitations, however, to the amount of money you can get each year, with the last reported annual maximum being $6,658.
Finally, forgiveness benefits are only allowed to be accumulated for up to five consecutive years.
The Kansas State Loan Repayment Program offers up to $20,000 in nursing forgiveness benefits for a two year commitment to working in an official Health Professional Shortage Area.
This program is eligible to all health care workers though, not just nurses, and isn’t a guaranteed benefit either, as it must be applied for, and approved.
The Bluegrass State, Kentucky, has an excellent repayment program that requires private participation from your employer, a sponsor organization or an individual.
To receive any money from the Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program, you’ll need to convince somebody to agree to match whatever amount the state Government is going to give you.
And that may be a tough sell, as Kentucky’s program provides $20,000 to $40,000 for a two year commitment, with the dollar value determined based on your specific role.
Louisiana’s State Loan Repayment Program offer assistance to nurses willing to work in inner-city and rural communities, offering up to $15,000 per year of time served in a Health Professional Shortage Area or with a nonprofit healthcare organization.
This program does require a 3 year commitment, an active nursing license in the state of Louisiana, and good standing on your outstanding Federal student loans (meaning, you cannot be late with your payments, in default, etc.), and it also requires that you work full-time throughout that three year period.
Maryland’s Janet L. Hoffman Assistance Repayment Program provides nurses working in low-income areas, and Health Professional Shortage Areas, with nursing forgiveness benefits.
To qualify for the benefit, you’ll have to have received your nursing degree in Maryland, you’ll have to work full-time, and you cannot be earning over $60,000 per year.
You’ll receive an annual award based on the amount of outstanding student loan debt you still owe, with the benefit ranging between $1,500 and $10,000 each year.
Also important to note is that you can only receive this benefit for up to three years.
Michigan’s State Loan Repayment Program provides financial assistance to nurses working in underserved areas, requiring them to serve full-time and agree to working for at least two years.
To qualify for the program, you’ll need to serve in a Health Professional Shortage Area, but you’ll be eligible to get up to $200,000 in loan forgiveness benefits over a time period of 8 years.
Minnesota’s nursing forgiveness program is relatively limited in it’s scope, requiring that you work as a licensed practical nurse, or registered nurse, and focusing on assisting the developmentally disabled, or within a licensed nursing home, and for a period of no shorter than two years.
It’s possible to extend your eligibility for another two year period, giving you a total of four years worth of benefits, and the benefit is limited to $5,000 per year, meaning that your total possible assistance under this program is $20,000.
Montana’s nursing forgiveness program doesn’t offer as much as many other states, and is impossible to predict sine the benefit is determined based on the number of applicants and available state-funding, meaning that there could be lots of money available, or none.
That said, the Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program was created for registered nurses and offers benefits to nurses working in full-time positions at Montana state hospitals and prisons.
The final requirement for this program is that you must owe at least $1,000 in federal student loans, but as long as you satisfy all these conditions, you’ll be eligible to receive something.
Nebraska’s Loan Repayment Program offers a pretty substantial benefit, with up to $20,000 per year available to healthcare professionals who are willing to make three year commitments to working in designated shortage areas.
That’s not bad, but there is one catch here in that the program is another of the “matching” types, requiring local entities to match state-funded dollars to cover the financial assistance offered to eligible candidates.
New Hampshire’s State Loan Repayment Program provides up to $45,000 to nurses willing to work full-time in a Health Professional Shortage Area.
This benefits packages requires that you work for at least 36 months int he state, but it also allows an optional extension of an additional 24 months, with an additional benefit of up to $20,000 more.
For a total potential benefit of $65,000, this is one of the better state-funded programs on offer, and one that’s totally worth looking into.
The Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey (that’s the official title of the Garden State’s nursing forgiveness benefit package), offers up to a maximum $120,000 in financial assistance for a service commitment of four years.
This program requires you to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area or underserved area of the state, and to work full-time for at least two years, with a optional two year extension that gets you access to additional funds.
The amount of money you receive will be based on how long you serve (2 years, or 4 years), as well as your remaining outstanding student loan balance. The longer you serve, and more you owe, the more you’ll get.
New Mexico’s Health Professional Loan Repayment Program requires you to be a resident with an active nursing license in the state, but offers some pretty significant benefits for full-time nurses.
Advanced practice nurses who agree to a two year service commitment in a medical shortage area are eligible to receive up to $25,000 in forgiveness benefits per year, while anyone working in a state-designated Health Professional Shortage Area can receive up to $35,000 per year.
And those are huge benefits, especially considering that I don’t see a lifetime limit on the program, meaning that you could keep going back year after year for additional forgiveness.
Nurses from the Empire state have access to some awesome loan forgiveness programs as well!
The Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program was created to increase the number of nursing faculty members teaching in New York State, and these benefits are absolutely gigantic!
This is an annual award offering up to $8,000 per year, with a maximum lifetime payment of $40,000, offered to New York State residents who are licensed registered nurses with graduate degrees and who have taught in the field of nursing.
For details on applying to this program, check out our page about the New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program.
Sorry to those in the Lone Star State, because while Texas does a lot of things bigger and better than other states, apparently they haven’t got a single program offering loan forgiveness to nurses.
The Buckeye State’s “Nurse Eucation Assistance Loan Program” offers Ohio nursing students to grab some loan forgiveness benefits, and if even open to those nursing graduates who go into instruction, rather than actual nursing.
The program provides a maximum annual benefit of $1,500, but nurses willing to complete eligible service in Ohio for five years are also offered up to 100% loan cancellation, which is an amazing offer – one of the best in the entire country.
Oregon’s Partnership State Loan Repayment program (abbreviated SLRP) lets nurse practitioners, registered nurses and other healthcare providers earn repayment assistance by working in state-defined Health Professional Shortage Areas.
This program does require a two year long service commitment, with the option to extend your contract for an additional two years to earn extra financial assistance.
I can’t tell you exactly how much is offered here, because the amount of forgiveness you can receive depends on your nursing position, time served and your total remaining student loan debt.
Pennsylvania’s Primary Care Loan Repayment Program provides registered nurses working in Health Professional Shortage areas with repayment assistance.
The total available loan forgiveness benefit is based on your employment, with full-time workers eligible to receive up to $60,000, and half-time workers eligible for up to $30,000 in forgiveness.
This program requires a service commitment of two years.
Nurse practitioners and registered nurses working in Pensylvania-designated Health Professional Shortage Areas can qualify for forgiveness relief under the Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program.
This program requires a two-year service commitment for full-time nurses, and four years of service for part-time nurses, with forgiveness amounts based on your specific role, and time served in the state.
Rhode Island is one of only states with a second Nursing student loan forgiveness program, as their Nurse Educators Loan Forgiveness Program also provides up to $5,000 of forgiveness relief per year, for a maximum of four years total.
Tennessee’s Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program encourages nurses working in the state to become nursing educators. This program requires an active license in nursing and that you be enrolled in a nursing higher education program.
To earn the benefit, you need to work in the state as a nursing educator for four years or longer, but once you’ve satisfied your service commitment, you’ll have your entire loan amount forgiven.
Texas’s Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program was created as an incentive to encourage people who are not physicians, but do work in healthcare, to move to, get trained in, or remain in the Lone Star State.
If you work as a healthcare professional in Texas (with a role that is NOT “physician”), then serving for 12 months or longer will make you eligible to get up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness
Vermont is home to the Educational Loan Repayment Program for Nurses, with offers up to $10,000 in repayment assistance for service commitments of 12-24 months.
This program requires that you work at least 45 weeks per year, with at least 20 weekly clinical hours, but it sounds like it can be agreed to again and again, allowing you to earn a total of far more than $10,000 in total lifetime forgiveness benefits.
Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program offers up to $25,000 in annual forgiveness benefits to working nurses who earned an eligible post-baccaleureate master’s degree or certificate in nursing.
To qualify for this benefit, you need to agree to serve at least two years within the state. One great thing about this program is that it also offers the option to agree to extend your service commitment for an additional $10,000 to the annual benefit.
Two important requirements for this program are that you must serve at least 40 hours a week in the field, and that you earned your nursing degree from a higher education institution that is accredited by the National League of Nursing.
Washington State provides up to $75,000 for a three year service commitment to nurses willing to work as primary care providers.
Called the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, this benefit is only eligible to people who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas, but because there aren’t a lot of eligibility requirements beyond the service commitment, I think it’s definitely worth pursuing.
If you are willing to agree to a two-year nursing service commitment in a rural, underserved area, then you can take advantage of West Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program, which offers up to $40,000 for two year commitments, and the option to extend to four years of service for an additional $25,000 in loan forgiveness benefits.
Wisconsin nurses can earn up to $100,000 in loan forgiveness with the Health Professionals Loan Assistance Program, which requires a three year service commitment at a position at a facility in an urban or underserved area.
Wyoming offers up to $20,000 to nurses who agree to a two-year service commitment, via the Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program.
This benefit does require serving in a Health Professional Shortage Area, as well as working full-time, but it sounds like it’s available to all nurses, regardless of specific position or job title.
What Do You Think?
Do you qualify for and received loan forgiveness under any of the programs mentioned on this page? Are you trying to receive it, but having problems?
If you’ve experienced any of these benefits packages, we would love to hear from you (and so would your fellow nurses).
Let us know what you think about the available loan forgiveness programs, or about your experiences in using them in the comments section below!
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Thank you for visiting, and be sure to check back soon for updates, including more individual state-sponsored forgiveness programs.