NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

Get Your 2017-2018 Applications in NOW!

The 2017 NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Deadline is May 11th, at 7:30 PM ET, so if you’re still interested in applying for the program, you’d better get those applications in immediately.

There’s one final technical review call on May 2nd, at 3-5pm EST. To join the call, simply dial 888-989-9859 and enter the passcode 4280610.

If you have questions about how the program works, this is the best possible time to get them addressed, so make sure you get on the line!

Get up to 85% of Your Debt Forgiven!

The NHSC Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program is back again for 2017, and it remains one of the most effective Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs on offer. This program is quite literally one of the fastest possible ways to get rid of your outstanding student loan debt, so don’t ignore it!

The NHSC loan repayment program is probably the fastest way to get your student loans paid off completely, since it allows for 60% of the loans to be paid for a 2-year service agreement, and up to 85% of your debt to be paid after just 3 years of qualifying service. It doesn’t have any debt limits, or crazy qualification requirements, and offers an amazing opportunity to any Nurse looking to get rid of their student loans.

As far as I’m aware, this is the best Student Loan Relief Program in existence, with no other program offering even remotely close to the same level of financial assistance. For comparison’s sake, even my old favorite, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, requires 10 years of service to get your debt forgiven (10 years for 100%, compared to NHSC’s 3 years for 85%… take your pick).



What is the NHSC Loan Repayment Program?

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (also called the NURSE Corps LRP) is an updated version of the old Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), and was designed to encourage more people to become Registered Nurses (RNs).

This program was created because there is a severe shortage of professional Registered Nurses across the country, and because demand for RNs is almost guaranteed to continue increasing as the baby-boomers reach older age.

Nursing loan forgiveness benefits offer and exceptional opportunity to earn a degree for a demanding position with great pay without burying yourself in debt, making this an excellent deal for anyone looking to find a new career.

The official stated purpose of the program is to “assist in the recruitment and retention of professional registered nurses (RNs), including advanced practice RNs (i.e., nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists), dedicated to working in health care facilities with a critical shortage of nurses… or working as nurse faculty at an eligible school of nursing”.

Basically, the program is there to encourage more people to become RNs, and to encourage more people to go into Nursing education positions.


How Does the Program Work?

The good news is that, unlike many other forms of Federal Student Loan Relief Programs, this program is quite simple.

To qualify for the excellent loan forgiveness benefits, all you have to do is agree to a service contract of 2 or 3 years at a qualifying hospital (one on the list of so-called “Critical Shortage Facilities”, or CSFs), or at an eligible school of nursing.

The only real downside to the way that this program works is that you can’t switch from serving as a Nurse in a facility to being a Nurse faculty at a nursing school mid-way through your service contract.

Whether you pick to go for loan forgiveness as a practicing nurse, or as a nursing educator, you’ll need to stick with that choice throughout the duration of your service contract in order to qualify for loan forgiveness.


How Much Loan Forgiveness Can You Get?

This is the best part of the NHSC program, because the percentage of loan forgiveness on offer is substantially higher than from any other Student Loan Debt Relief program that I’ve ever run across, including:

  • 60% of your Qualifying Nursing Educational Loan Balance forgiven for completing an initial two-year service agreement
  • 25% of your Qualifying Nursing Educational Loan Balance forgiven for completing a third, optional, year of service (subject to the availability of funds)

That means you can get 85% of your nursing education loans paid off simply by serving in the field that you wanted to work in anyway for just three years!

What are the Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for the NURSE Corp LRP program, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States (either U.S. born or naturalized), a U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • Hold a baccalaureate or associate degree in nursing, a diploma in nursing, or a graduate degree in nursing
  • Be employed full-time as an RN, working at least 32 hours per week, at a public or private nonprofit Critical Shortage Facility (see the list here), OR, be employed as a full-time nursing faculty member at a public or private nonprofit, eligible school of nursing (see the definition for that below)
  • Hold outstanding qualifying education loans (student loan debt) that lead to your diploma or degree in nursing
  • Have completed the nursing education program for which the loan balance above applies, and,
  • Have a current, full, permanent, unencumbered, unrestricted license to practice as an RN in the State where you are working (or be licensed as an RN in any state if you’re working as a Federal employee, or the employee of a tribal health program)

One thing to note is that if you want to qualify for forgiveness benefits by serving as a nursing faculty member, you will need to retain a license to practice as an RN, even if the School of Nursing you work at does not require it.

This may seem like a long list of items, but these are really easy conditions to satisfy, and conditions that most working RNs will have no trouble meeting.

Unlike a lot of the other Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs currently on offer, this one does not require you to jump through many hoops.

What Issues Could Make You Ineligible for Forgiveness?

There is a long list of issues that could make you ineligible for the NHSC forgiveness program, including a bunch of different things from making sure you’ve got a good credit history to making sure that you aren’t trying to double-dip with other benefits programs.

Issues that would make you ineligible to receive benefits include:

  • Having a judgment lien arising from Federal debt
  • Having a default on any Federal payment obligations (Health Education Assistance Loans, Nursing Student Loans, FHA Loans, Federal income tax liabilities, etc.) or non-Federal payment obligations (like court-ordered child support payments, mortgage payments, car loans, etc.)
  • Having defaulted on a prior service obligation to the Federal, State, or local government
  • Having defaulted on a prior service obligation under the HHS/HRSA/Bureau of Health Workforce Nurse Faculty Loan Program
  • Having had any Federal or non-Federal debt written off as uncollectible or having any Federal service or payment obligation waived (like due to disability, etc.)
  • Having a temporary or inactive RN license
  • Having failed to apply all NURSE Corps LRP funds previously received towards your qualifying education loans
  • Having an existing service obligation to another program (the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program, the State Loan Repayment Program, the Bureau of Health Workforce Nurse Faculty Loan Program, the Faculty Loan Repayment Program, any State-sponsored loan repayment/forgiveness program, any employer-sponsored scholarship or recruitment/retention incentive programs, or Active Duty military obligations – other than serving as a Reserve component in the Armed Forces, including the National Guard) that will not be satisfied by the application submission deadline
  • Being excluded, debarred, suspended, or disqualified by a Federal agency from participating in a covered transaction
  • Working for nurse staffing agencies or travel nurse agencies
  • Working on an “as needed” basis (including PRNs, Pool Nurses, or other RNs who are not scheduled to be working full-time)
  • Working as a licensed practical or vocational nurse
  • Working as a self-employed nurse
  • Working at a for-profit health care facility or school of nursing

If you meet any of the above conditions, then you will not be able to receive loan forgiveness benefits from the NHSC loan repayment program.


Which Loans Qualify for Forgiveness?

In a nut-shell, the only loans that qualify for NHSC forgiveness are those that were used for nursing training costs (like undergraduate or graduate nursing courses).

Here’s a breakdown of the loans that qualify, and those that don’t:

Qualifying Education Loans

Loans that do qualify for forgiveness benefits include loans that were obtained specifically for actual education-related costs like:

  • Tuition, fees or other education expenses for nursing education programs
  • Reasonable living expenses incurred while you were enrolled in a nursing education program

Examples of qualifying loans would include, Nursing Student Loans that cannot be cancelled, Stafford Loans, Supplement Loans for Students, etc.


Consolidated Loans

In some cases, consolidated loans are also eligible for the program, as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • The consolidated or refinanced loan must originate from the Government (Federal, State or local Government) or from a commercial lender, and must only include loans related specifically to your nursing education costs
  • If you’ve consolidated or refinanced a qualifying loan with another loan that is not eligible for the program, then the resulting entire loan will become ineligible
  • The original loan’s disbursement date must coincide with the time period that you were attending your qualifying nursing education program

This is just another reason in a long list of issues to consider when wondering whether or not you should apply for a Federal Student Loan Consolidation.


Non-Qualifying Loans

Many loans, including student loans, do not qualify for forgiveness benefits under the NURSE Corps LRP program, including:

  • Loans that required you to incur a service obligation as a nurse or nurse faculty that cannot be fufilled by the NURSE Corps LRP application deadline
  • Loans that were obtained for training in vocational or practical nursing
  • Loans obtained from family members, friends, private institutions or other entities not subject to Federal or State examination and supervision
  • Loans made before or after the time period when you were attending a qualifying nursing education program (like years before or years afterward)
  • Loans used for non-nursing degrees
  • Loans that have already been paid in full
  • Loans that were issued to your parents (Parent PLUS Loans)
  • Loans that are Credit Card debt or from Personal Lines of Credit
  • Loans issued under the Federal Perkins Loans program (unless you can prove that your Perkins loans are not eligible for Perkins Loan Cancellation)

Which Facilities Qualify for Benefits?

To qualify for the NHSC loan repayment program, you must work at what’s called a “Critical Shortage Facility” (CSF), which means a health care facility that’s located in, designated as, or serving a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

The good news is that many facilities do count as CSFs, including each of the following types:

  • Critical Access Hospitals (CAH)
  • Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH)
  • Public Hospitals
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC)
  • Indian Health Service Health Centers
  • Native Hawaiian Health Centers
  • Rural Health Clinics
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF)
  • State of Local Public Health of Human Services Departments
  • Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC)
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice Programs
  • Non-Disproportionate Share Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes

Again, the important thing that determines whether or not your facility is eligible for these benefits is to make sure that it’s located in, designated as, or serving a primary medical care of mental health HPSA.

To search an online database for eligible HPSA facilities in your area, please navigate to the HRSA’s HPSA Finder, here.

Which Facilities are Ineligible for Benefits?

Some health care facilities will not allow you to qualify for forgiveness benefits, including facilities that are:

  • Free-standing Clinics which don’t qualify as health care facilities in the above list
  • Renal Dialysis Centers
  • Private Practice Offices
  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Prison or Correctional Facility Clinics
  • Private For-Profit Facilities

Unfortunately, there’s no list of all approved CSF facilities anywhere on the Internet, or, as far as I know, anywhere at all.

However, it’s easy to find out if your facility will qualify by simply contacting your business office or human resources department and asking them.


Can I Use The Money For Other Costs?

Unfortunately, no.

The money you receive from this program must be used to repay qualifying educational loans, and the your payments to lenders are subject to periodic verification by the NURSE Corps LRP.

That means you can’t use these funds for personal purchases, vacations, or any other costs other than what they are supposed to be applied to – your nursing educational costs.

NURSE Corps LRP Payments & Taxes

One downside to the NHSC’s nursing loan forgiveness program is that the payments you receive are subject to Federal taxes, so your payments will have Federal income tax and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (Social Security and Medicare taxes) withheld from them, and that money will be paid directly to the IRS on your behalf.

Loan payments may also be subject to State and local income taxes as well, so the amount of money you actually get to apply toward your outstanding student loan debt will be significantly less than the full 85%, but it’s still a huge number (depending on your tax bracket, etc.).

To verify that everything is being done correctly according to IRS regulations, the NURSE Corps LRP will mail you a W-2 each year.


How Do I Apply for the Program?

First, choose which service contract option you want to apply for (the actual working Nurse one, or the Faculty one), then follow the instructions specific to that service contract.

Make sure that you read the official Application and Program Guidance document to ensure that you really will qualify for the benefit, and that you won’t be wasting your time, or anyone else’s time in trying to earn it. Please pay special attention to the eligibility rules and ineligible types of loans and facilities when reviewing this material, as those are the things that typically cause problems for people attempting to apply.

Next, gather up all the documents that you’re going to need to complete your online application form, including:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • Loan Documentation
  • Authorization for Release of Employment Information Document
  • Authorization to Release Information Document
  • Transcripts from your qualifying Nursing Education Program
  • Curriculum Vitae and/or your Resume

Finally, make sure to complete the Employment Verification (EV) form before submitting your application, because it’s a required part of the process and will prevent you from being eligible if you don’t get it finished first.

Once you’ve got all this put together, go to the online Program Portal and complete your electronic application by the required deadline. The deadline changes each year, so you’ll need to keep checking back here, or on their official site, to find out when applications actually open. Typically, they’ve available starting in the Winter, but for 2017, it looks like they’ve changed things and won’t be accepting applications until the Spring.

Here’s what the deadlines have been in years past:

  • In 2015, the deadline was 7:30pm EST on February 26th
  • In 2016, the deadline was 7:30pm EST on April 28th
  • In 2017, the deadline has not yet been announced, and applications aren’t yet being accepted. I will update this page as soon as they announce the application window, so please check back for updates regularly.

Make sure that you include all of the required supporting documentation described in the Application and Program Guidance document, and that all of it is properly uploaded to the Program Portal, or your application will be rejected.


What If I Need Help?

If you run into any trouble while trying to get your materials together, or while submitting your application, then you should contact the NURSE Corps LRP Customer Service center Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm EST at:

  • GetHelp@hrsa.gov
  • 1-800-221-9393
  • 1-877-897-9910

Customer Service representatives will be able to walk you through the process, and they should be able to get everything sorted out for you quickly and easily.

Please Help

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I rely on people like you to help get the word out that this place exists, and to help cover the costs of putting together all these materials about helping people get out of student loan debt.

Thank you for your help!


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Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on paying off student loans as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. His new website Forget Tax Debt, offers similar advice to people with back tax problems.

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Comments

  1. I am enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program currently. If I qualify for the nurse CORPS will I still be enrolled and qualify for the PSLF?

  2. Evan Dooling says:

    Is the application window closed for 2017?

  3. Would this application apply for current nursing students? I graduate Sept 2017 but want to know if I can apply now?

  4. Hi Tim,
    Any news on the deadline for 2017?
    Thanks,
    Heather

  5. When does the 2017 application window open?

    • Hi Samantha,

      Looks like they’ve changed things a bit this year – here’s a direct quote from the HRSA website’s “When to Apply” section:

      The 2016 application cycle is now closed. The next Scholarship Program application is scheduled to open in Spring 2017. Sign up to get an e-mail when it does.

      I’m signed up to receive their email alerts, and will update this page with details as soon as they announce the new application window.

  6. Edith Jordan says:

    Hi Tim,
    I had my MHA/ Gerontology degree 4yrs ago, will I qualify for loan forgiveness? I am working right now as a neuro icu rn.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Edith,

      It sounds like you’re right in that window which will qualify you for the benefit. If you haven’t seen it already, I just updated my main Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program page to include details about forgiveness options for each state too, so be sure to visit that page, look for your state, and see if you’re eligible for any state-based assistance as well.

  7. Hi Tim,
    Nursing school didn’t workout for me the first time around. I was dismissed from the program my third year for not passing a class so I finished college with a bachelor of science in psych instead. All of my classes my first 3 years were towards a nursing program. I ended up trying nursing school again through an accelerated program and I’m officially a working RN for a qualifying hospital.

    My question is, I was going to consolidate my student loans, but now I’m worried how to go about this so they qualify. Also, my biggest chunk of student loans are through Parent Plus Loans (I know big mistake) but I was going to refinance these under my name through SoFi lender. If I refinance this and consolidate them u see my name would they qualify?

    My loans are overbearing and I really need som guidance and help. Anything would be INCREDIBLY APPRECIATED!

    • Hi Mara,

      If you consolidate your loans through SoFi (a private lender), then they won’t be eligible for ANY Federal forgiveness benefits. I would NOT consolidate with a private lender, but leave your Federal loans as they are. You should really speak to a financial advisor about how to handle your debt, because they’re going to need to look at a lot of different details to determine your best course of action. It’s worth paying a small consulting fee to sort this stuff out, and if you do it now, it could save you lots of money down the line.

      The Private loans will be the problem. The Parent Plus Loans… could be a problem too… because they’re not eligible for Forgiveness benefits. That was really unfortunate to use those, but there’s still a chance that they’ll BECOME eligible for forgiveness at some point in the future, whereas if you consolidate them to SoFi, you know for sure they never will be.

      Tough choices to make, and I don’t have enough information to advise you 100%. Contact a financial adviser and you should be able to sort out the best approach.

  8. Sondra King says:

    Wondering when we will hear our outcome of the application??? waiting…

  9. Andrew Harris says:

    Is this program retroactive? My wife worked 4 years full time and met all the qualifications. She is now PRN and would not meet the full time requirement. Can she apply using her previous work experience?

  10. Michelle says:

    Thanks for writing this article!

    If someone already had a bachelor’s before their nursing degree, and later obtained their nursing degree, do you know if the NCLRP can go towards all of their student debt or just the debt they acquired while taking nursing classes?

    Any input on this is greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Good question! I would check out the section of my post called “Non-Qualifying Loans” to see if any of those apply to your situation. Next, contact whoever services your loan (the people you send your monthly payments to) and ask them to clarify things. They are legally obligated to tell you the truth.

  11. According to the government website, simply being an RN does not make you eligible. Only Nurse Practitioner’s, Certified Nursing Midwives, and Physicians Assistants are eligible. This could be a new change but it’s good to know.

  12. Kim Spencer says:

    Are only RNs covered, or would a nurse practitioner also qualify?

  13. Hello Tim. I was just wondering when the program will be starting for 2016? Also, I just finished my schooling for Nurse Practitioner and will be starting a new job in February of 2016. Is the program available for nurse practitioners as long as you are working for an eligible rural hospital?

    • Hi Wendy,

      You can find the 2016 Application here. Read through it for details on qualifications. Consider speaking to the HR people at your workplace to ask them whether or not you qualify (before filling out all the forms and going through all the trouble to apply for benefits…).

  14. Hi,
    First thank you for creating this site.
    Every thing here is gear towards RNs.
    I am an LPN, I have acquire my debt in my attempts to become a RN.

    Are there any place that offers debt forgiveness/relieve for LPNs.

  15. Alright, loans that were used to school that lead to my ADN qualify, but loans that were used for LPN school don’t qualify? What if I had to complete an LPN program to enter an ADN program?

    Thanks for gathering this info!

    • Hi Ryan,

      Contact whoever services your loans and ask them what qualifies. They’re the ones who can comment on this with authority.

      Or, if you don’t trust them, try contacting the Student Loan Relief Helpline. This is a commercial service who offers consolidation products, but they’ll also explain to you what you are actually eligible for. You can reach them at 1-888-694-8235.

  16. I have a couple of questions

    1. I am currently a RN working full time in a critical access hospital, I have been here 2.5 years with the time I have been here count toward time needed for reimbursement?

    2. I recently started a BSN program in September 2015 that will be completed around November 2016. If accepted in 2016 will my new student loans for the BSN degree be covered as well?

    • Hi Sarah,

      1. Yes

      2. I don’t think you can count time of service that occurred BEFORE you accumulated more debt. Basically, the idea is that you have to finish your debt accumulation (finish school), then start working toward forgiveness. As far as I know, this is always the requirement of any sort of Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

  17. I have been a RN for about 6 years now, the whole time I have worked for the same hospital which is rural. I work full time hours or just short of it some weeks but since I don’t need the Insurance and want specific days off I am PRN status. For all these programs it seems that you have to be full time, so I have never applied. can you be PRN and still get help?

    • Hi Cathryn,

      To my knowledge, you must be full-time to satisfy the requirements of the Nursing student loan assistance programs. I’m not aware of any that apply to part-time nurses.

      You may want to contact whoever services your loan, however, and ask them if they’re aware of any benefits for part-time Nurses. Legally, they’re obligated to tell you the truth about available benefits.

  18. I work for a inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital in a rural setting, does this qualify?

    • Hi Cindi,

      If your hospital isn’t on the approved list of Critical Shortage Facilities then no, you won’t qualify. To find out if your facility is on the list, check out the list of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) here.

      ALTHOUGH, keep in mind that even if your facility does not appear on the list, it’s possible that you may be able to appeal by contacting the Department of Education, and requesting that they reevaluate your facility and consider including it on the list of approved locations. I have heard of multiple people having success getting their locations added to the list.

  19. Shenika Davis says:

    How would you be notified if you qualify for loan repayment program?

  20. Hi Tim,
    I just graduated in May 2015 and started working my first nursing job in Ely, NV. (population 4500). I am under a 2 year contract with the facility and have not started to make any payments on my loans. Would I still be able to apply for help even though I haven’t made the “120” payments?

    • Hi Danielle,

      Yes, absolutely! This program doesn’t require you to complete 120 payments to receive forgiveness benefits. You should definitely submit an application as soon as possible, and make sure that whoever services your loan agrees that you qualify the requirements of the program.

  21. I work fulltime as a registered nurse at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Loma Linda, California. Do VA hospital qualify as public hospitals under this program?

    • Hi Eva,

      I believe they do and I think you’ll definitely be able to qualify for the program. If you have questions, contact your HR department – they should be able to help.

  22. I’ll be starting classes in mental health counseling fall this year. I’m really banking on this program to fund my education. Is there a guarantee that the scholarship funding will be available for new applicants next year? Has anyone experienced getting denied for scholarship or loan repayment with NHSC?

    • Hi Ani,

      I don’t know that anyone could answer your first question – there’s probably no guarantee that it’ll be fully-funded and available for new applicants, but it SHOULD be.

      Can’t help with the second part either, but hopefully the community can chime in on that note. Good luck!

  23. I am a nurse working in a rural area at a critical access hospital. I see there is the NHSC loan repayment program. However, the deadline was Feb 26th. Have these deadlines been extended or are there any other programs I could qualify for? Thanks

    • Hi Mandy,

      The application period has ended for this year, but you can always apply again next year. There are some other programs available for Nurses, check out all the options you may be entitled to here.

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