FSLD’s Comprehensive Guide to Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits
(Updated: April 25th, 2018)
In 2018, Nurses have access to the best student loan forgiveness programs on the market, with excellent opportunities to receive forgiveness for both Private and Federal loans.
In fact, Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs offer more flexibility, bigger payouts, as well as faster and easier eligibility conditions than the benefits offered to any other profession.
This Guide introduces you to all the best Nursing student loan forgiveness benefits available for the 2018/2019 school year, explaining how much money each program offers, walking you through the applications process, and helping you to decide which program (or mix of programs) will work best for you.
My goal is to make this the web’s best resource for understanding nursing loan forgiveness benefits, so please feel free to offer suggestions and ask questions in the Comments section below!
Quick Links to the Topics Covered Within This Comprehensive Guide
To help you quickly access the information you want now, here’s an outline of the most important topics that this Guide covers:
- Why Do Nurses Get Student Loan Forgiveness?
- Who Gets the Best Nursing Loan Forgiveness Benefits?
- What Loan Forgiveness Programs Are Available Now?
- Federally-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
- Perkins Forgiveness For Nurses & Licensed Medical Technicians
- The NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- The NHSC Loan Repayment Program
- The Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- State-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
- Privately-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
- What are Health Professional Shortage Areas? (HPSAs)
- Where Can I Find the List of Approved HPSAs?
- What are Medically Underserved Areas or Populations? (MUA/Ps)
- Where Can I Find the List of Approved MUA/Ps?
- What Other Forgiveness Options Do I Have?
- Student Loan Forgiveness & Taxable Income Laws
- Is it Enough? Or Should Nurses Get Even More?
But Before We Get Started…
If you’re in a hurry to get immediate help with your loans, then I recommend calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline, because they can quickly determine which Nursing loan forgiveness program will work best for you, then help you fill out your application in order to increase the odds that you’ll actually get approved to receive the benefits.
The Helpline can handle research, document preparation, debt consolidation, etc. for you for a fee, but your first call to them is free, and you should be able to get a quick answer from them about whether or not your specific position qualifies you for any of the best Nursing loan forgiveness programs before you need to spend any money.
In fact, other than a couple minutes of your time, you’ve literally got nothing to lose by giving them a call. The Student Loan Relief Helpline is the only place I send my readers for trustworthy and accurate advice, and I am certain that they’ll be able to help you with your nursing-related loans.
Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at: 1-888-906-3065.
Why Do Nurses Get Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits
This country still has a major manpower problem in nursing, with far too few qualified nurses in the workforce. As a response to the crisis, the Federal Government created a variety of student loan forgiveness programs for nurses that are designed to encourage more people to get into nursing.
Nursing loan forgiveness benefits are so lucrative that many people find themselves able to completely wipe out their nursing-related student loans within just a few years of graduation, especially those nurses who take advantage of both Federal and State-funded programs, many of which allow you to double-dip your way to becoming debt free.
The loan forgiveness benefits available to nurses are truly 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 always has been one of the best options out there, but now it’s even better than ever before!
Who Gets the Best Nursing Loan Forgiveness Benefits?
Nursing loan forgiveness benefits are available to virtually all nurses, with program eligibility determined by the location where you live, the position in which you serve (RN vs. Nurse Practitioner, etc.), the actual work duties that you complete, your level of education (Associate’s Degree vs. BSN vs. MSN, etc.), and the need or level of demand for your assistance.
The trick to qualifying for the best nursing loan forgiveness benefits is that you will typically need to agree to work not only full-time, but also within a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and/or within a Medically Underserved Area or Population (MUA/P), and/or at facility that’s been approved as an Area of Critical Need (this is the term used in Florida).
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to find employment in an HPSA, MUA/P or Critical Need Facility, because they’re scattered all across the country, located in virtually every state, and even in most major metropolitan areas. In a section further down in this Guide I’ll explain the definitions of HPSAs, MUA/Ps and CNFs, plus provide links to tools that allow you to search for facilities that meet these designations, but for now, just realize that they’re important to be aware of.
The only downside to working in HPSAs, MUA/Ps and Critical Shortage Facilities is that they’re typically going to provide medical care to lower income individuals, like impoverished people from the inner city, or rural people living far away from urban centers, and many nurses simply don’t want to serve these populations, or live in the areas within easy commuting distance from these types of facilities.
However, if your goal is to maximize your nursing student loan forgiveness benefits to get out of debt as quickly as possible, then the best way to do that is to pursue the programs that offer the fastest and biggest repayment terms, and those are typically going to be the programs requiring you to work in an HPSA, MUA/P, or Critical Need Facility.
Pay close attention to the eligibility rules and guidelines for each forgiveness program below, because I’ll detail exactly what’s required to access the benefits, and remember that those programs requiring HPSA, MUA/P or CNF service contracts are likely to wipe out your debt the fastest.
What Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs Are Available Now?
Nursing forgiveness benefits are available via a variety of sources, including Federal and State-funded programs, as well as some much smaller, privately-funded scholarships, grants and other similar financial assistance programs that can help with private loans.
You’re virtually guaranteed to qualify for one or more of the programs listed below, and the best news is that some of them even allow you to double-dip, qualifying for two benefits at the same time, which could help you wipe out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt!
When reviewing your options, keep in mind that Federal loan forgiveness programs are typically the easiest to access, and they also offer the best and biggest benefits packages, but the state-based Nursing loan forgiveness programs are also good, and some of the smaller private Nursing loan forgiveness benefits even offer big amounts of money, they’re just typically a little harder to qualify for since they only approve so many applicants each year.
The most difficult part of the Nursing loan forgiveness process is determining which program, or set of programs, will reduce your loans the most, and the fastest. To find out which will work best for you, read on!
Federally-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
In 2018, there are a variety of Federally-funded programs offering nursing loan forgiveness benefits, including:
- The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
- The Perkins Forgiveness Program For Nurses & LMTs
- The NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- The NHSC Loan Repayment Program
- The Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
- The Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Each of these programs offers substantial savings to nurses who qualify for their benefits, and I’ve listed all the programs I can think of that may overlap with a big population of nurses, including the programs listed above for Non-Profit Employees (I know a lot of your Nurses are at 501(c)(3)’s!), Government Employees of any level (Federal, State or Local), and Military Personnel from any branch of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Reserves, etc.).
Hopefully you’ll qualify for one of these programs, because the Federally-funded programs tend to offer the biggest and fastest benefits, but if you find yourself saying no to each of these, then don’t despair, because next up will come the State-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs, and finally, the Privately-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs.
If you’re working full-time as a Nurse, you’re virtually guaranteed to qualify for one of the programs listed below, so be sure to read each program’s description and eligibility guidelines thoroughly, because you don’t want to miss out on any of these benefits!
Without further ado, here’s a basic introduction to how each of the best student loan forgiveness programs for nurses work.
For additional details on any of these programs, click through the links below to visit other pages of my site that go through all the specifics, like eligibility rules, lifetime benefit limits, applications processes and funding requirements.
Remember, if you have any questions about any of this stuff, feel free to post them in the Comments section below and I’ll get you a response within 24 hours.
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.
“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 Government offers these benefits to encourage RN’s to move and work in poor urban or rural communities where they are in desperate need of additional nurses, and to tell you the truth, unless you really can’t stand living in a poor area, this is a benefit worthy of your consideration.
Benefits of the NURSE Corps (NHSC) Loan Forgiveness Program
Under this program, if you’re willing to work for 2 years at a qualifying facility, then you’ll get 60% of your loans forgiven, and if you agree to serve an additional 1 year, then they’ll pay off another 25% of your original debt, giving you up to 85% in total debt forgiveness.
That’s up to 85% of your debt wiped out in return for just 3 years of nursing service in a poor urban or rural community, and something that anyone drowning in excessive student loans should definitely consider pursuing.
For additional details, please visit my page about the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.
The Perkins Loan Discharge or Loan Cancellation for Nurses Program
Since this program is 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 too!
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.
Benefits of the Perkins Loan Discharge for Nurses Program
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 complete forgiveness after just five years of any sort of service (including military service), so if you can qualify for this benefit, then you should definitely pursue it.
But it gets even better, because this is also one of the only Federal loan forgiveness programs available that offers incremental forgiveness benefits, meaning that you’ll get at least some portion of your student loan debt forgiven for each individual year of service that you complete.
For additional details about how the program works, please visit my page about Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses and Licensed Medical Technicians.
The NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
The NHSC’s NURSE Corps Scholarship Program is similar to their forgiveness benefit, except that it was created to help you avoid racking up student loan debt in the first place, rather than getting rid of it after the fact.
The way it works is that you can qualify for having all of your higher education costs covered, and for receiving a monthly stipend, which is like a salary paid to you simply for agreeing to go to nursing school!
And the best thing about this program is that it’s unlike any other student loan benefit that I’m aware of, since it can be applied before you build the debt, and since it literally pays you a salary (stipend) in addition to covering all of your nursing school-related costs.
Benefits of the NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
For the 2018-2019 school year, the NHSC Scholarship offered to cover all the typical costs, like Tuition and School Fees, but it also opened up access to getting money to cover things that most scholarships won’t pay for.
What was included in the additional expenses? Things like repeated course work, increases in tuition or fees, attendance at more than a single school, summer school courses, and books, instruments of clinical supplies, uniforms, computers, travel expenses and even insurance!
But the best part is that the monthly stipend was set to a higher amount than has ever been offered before: $1,344 per month (before taxes) to help with “living expenses”, which really meant that it could be used for ANYTHING you wanted to spend it on.
For more information about how the program works, please visit my page about the NHSC NURSE Corps Scholarship Program.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Ever since the introduction of President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program in 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been regarded as one of the best forgiveness benefits available to anyone, let alone nurses.
PSLF benefits provide complete Federal student loan forgiveness for serving in a qualifying “Public Service” role and making income-based monthly payments on your student loans 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.
Benefits of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Here’s how PSLF works:
- 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 in the past, and our Education Secretary Betsy DeVos keeps trying to kill PSLF, there’s still no indication that the program will be removed and I would recommend that you get enrolled in it as soon as possible to ensure you’ll be grandfathered into receiving the benefit, should anything change in the future.
To find out exactly how PSLF works, please visit my page about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program
This program was created to help all medical personnel with their loans, but it’s another excellent opportunity for Nurses to wipe out a ton of debt, quickly.
Offering up to $50,000 for only a 2 year service commitment, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger and faster benefits package than the one offered by the the NHSC LRP Program, so I think this one should rank at the top of your list for potential participation.
Yes, you’ll have to work at an NHSC-approved site with a high HPSA score (meaning a location that desperately needs additional assistance), but because the benefits package is so big, and earned so quickly, I think it’s entirely worth the effort.
Benefits of the NHSC Loan Repayment Program
Here’s how NHSC LRP works:
- The program is available to Primary Care Medical, Dental and Mental/Behavioral Personnel, working full or half-time, at sites who qualify as HPSA locations (Health Professional Shortage Areas)
- In return for agreeing to serve at a qualifying facility, in a qualifying position, and working full-time, you can earn up to $50,000 in forgiveness
- In return for working half-time, you can earn up to $30,000 in forgiveness for the same time allocation (2 years of half time work)
- These funds are NOT TAXED, so you won’t end up owing the IRS anything in return for this forgiveness benefit (which is huge!)
- After completing your two year service commitment, you may be eligible to sign up for additional contract extensions and keep going until all your loans are entirely forgiven
To find out all the details about how NHSC LRP works, please visit my page about the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.
The Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
The Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness Program was created to provide additional benefits to working for a 501(c)(3) organization, but I’m certain that many nurses will be able to take advantage of this excellent benefit since there are so many non-traditional heathcare providers operating as not for profit companies, and employing nurses.
Technically, Non-Profit Forgiveness works exactly the same as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which I explained above, but many people don’t realize that PSLF benefits are also available to employees of non-profits, so I present it separately to ensure that no one who can take advantage of these incredible benefits gets left behind.
The best part about Non-Profit Forgiveness (PSLF) is that you don’t have to work in an HPSA or other shortage type facility; the only determining factor that decides whether or not you’ll qualify for the benefits is if you’re employed at a 501(c)(3), and working full-time!
Benefits of the Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Here’s how Non-Profit Loan Forgiveness works:
- You need to be working full-time for a qualifying 501(c)(3) organization (essentially any non-profit will count, as long as it’s designated 501(c)(3))
- While working for that organization, you need to make 120 monthly payments toward your loans, then you’ll receive complete forgiveness for whatever amount remains due
One of the best things about Non-Profit Forgiveness benefits is that they’re not only capable of wiping out 100% of your loans in return for just 10 years of service as a full-time 501(c)(3) worker, but that they wipe out your loans without exposing you to additional tax liabilities!
If you’re already employed at a not for profit company, then you’ll definitely want to look into this program, and if you aren’t yet employed, but have the opportunity to work for one, then I’d highly consider pursuing that role.
To find out exactly how Non-Profit Forgiveness works, please visit my page on the Non-Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
This program was created by Government Workers, for Government Workers, and offers the same excellent benefits we’ve already covered under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or PSLF, since it’s technically the same thing.
The way this works is that if you work full-time for the Government in any capacity and at any level, be it Federal, State, or even the local-level, you qualify for PSLF forgiveness, and get access to the single most powerful loan forgiveness program on the planet.
Tons of people who work for the Government have no clue about this program’s existence, especially State and Local Government Employees, which is why I always try to call it to my visitor’s attention.
Benefits of the Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Here’s how Government Employee Forgiveness works:
- If you work full-time for the United States Government (as a Federal Employee), or a State Government, or a Local Government, in any capacity, you’ll be eligible to take advantage of the excellent Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
- In return for your full-time Government Employee work, you’ll be eligible to discharge 100% of your remaining student loan balance after you’ve made 120 full, on-time payments toward that balance, even if your monthly payment was determined to be $0 because of an Income-Based Repayment Program
Obviously, I love this program, because it supports traditional Government workers, but also Police Officers, Firefighters, Park Rangers, and anybody else who works for the Government, which means that they provide a public service, and I think it’s a just reward for their contributions to the community.
For details on exactly how the Government Employee program works, visit my page about the Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program
There are actually several Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs (one for each service branch), and they’re all technically referred to as the Military College Loan Repayment Program, or CLRP.
Each Service Branch gets to determine their own specific benefit amount, but the maximum forgiveness benefit is typically offered by the Army, and has historically been limited to $65,000 in lifetime forgiveness benefits.
The trick with the College Loan Repayment Program is that it’s only available to NEW military personnel, who have no prior military service, and who are willing to agree to enlist for a certain period of time.
One thing that’s vital to understanding how CLRP works is that you absolutely must have the benefits written into your service contract, otherwise you’re almost certainly never going to receive them.
Benefits of the Military Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Here’s how the Military College Loan Repayment Program works:
- If you’ve never served in the Armed Forces before, and join for the first time, you may be able to qualify for up to $65,000 in student loan forgiveness assistance
- You’ll need to agree to enlist for a minimum period of time (typically 6 years), but you’ll start receiving forgiveness for each year of your service contract that you complete
- Most branches offer a set amount of dollars per year, or a percentage of your outstanding loan balance
- If you fail to complete your service agreement, you may end up having to repay whatever amount of forgiveness you received
As I mentioned, each branch of the military gets to set their own forgiveness amount, and most of them are still offering significant assistance this year, but again, these benefits are only available to people who’ve never served in the military before and are signing up for the first time, and they must be written into your enlistment contract or you won’t be able to utilize them.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that this form of forgiveness IS taxed, but in a way that makes it at least a little more convenient; each year when you qualify for your forgiveness benefit, your branch will send the money directly to the Department of Education (you didn’t think they’d just hand you a check, right?), and they’ll withhold a percentage of the amount they’re sending on your behalf to account for taxes.
For complete details on how the CLRP works, please visit my page about:
- Military Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits
- The Military College Loan Repayment Program
- The Army Student Loan Repayment Program (Army SLRP)
- The Navy Student Loan Repayment Program (Navy LRP)
- The National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program
- The Air Force College Loan Repayment Program
- The Coast Guard Loan Repayment Program (*NOTE: Scroll down to the section called “The Coast Guard Loan Repayment Program”)
*NOTE: The Marine Corps no longer participates in CLRP.
State-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
As I mentioned at the beginning of this page, many states also 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 Education 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.
Privately-Funded Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs
If you don’t qualify for any of the Federally-Funded or State-Funded Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs listed above, have no fear, because private organizations, associations and wealthy individuals have chipped in to make sure that there are alternative options for additional funding via excellent forgiveness benefits that have nothing to do with the Government.
What are Health Professional Shortage Areas? (HPSAs)
In a nutshell, Health Professional Shortage Areas (abbreviated “HPSAs”) are geographic areas, population groups, or specific facilities that the Federal Government has determined to be understaffed and in need of immediate additional personnel.
HPSAs are typically (though not always) found in either inner city environments, or rural communities, and are often understaffed because the populations they serve are viewed as relatively undesirable patients (often they’re poor, uneducated and relatively unhealthy compared to normal populations).
HPSAs are also usually found in geographic areas where highly educated, well-trained and upwardly mobile people (like the average nurse) may simply not want to work or live, because they’re dangerous, boring, or simply remote.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that choosing to serve in an HPSA opens up all sorts of additional nursing loan forgiveness benefits, like faster or larger annual repayment benefits that can help you wipe out your loans far sooner than you’d be able to do by serving in a highly desirable location.
Now that I’ve explained them in ordinary language that regular people can understand, here’s a technical description of how HPSAs are designated:
- HPSAs are designated after they’ve been found to face health care provider shortages in Primary Care, Dental Health or Mental Health Care
- HPSAs can be based on geographic areas, population groups or specific facilities
- HPSAs are scored on a scale of 0-25 for Primary Care and Mental Health Shortages, and 0-26 for Dental Health Shortages, with higher scores meaning that the area is experience a greater need for additional trained personnel
- The higher score your HPSA is, the more likely you are to receive approval for forgiveness benefits, and the faster those benefits are likely to become eligible to you
Each year, the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration reviews data about healthcare demand and staffing across the country and updates their list of designated HPSAs, so each year, you have to make sure that your region, population or facility remains designated as an HPSA, or you could lose eligibility for the benefits you’re seeking.
For all the specific details on how the HRSA determines HPSAs, please visit their page about Health Professional Shortage Areas here.
To help ensure that all potential HPSAs are evaluated within a timely manner, the HRSA actually allows individuals to suggest new HPSAs via a complicated designation process.
What this means is that you can actually apply to have wherever you work designated an HPSA, and if you can convince the HRSA that you’re right, then your employment may end up counting, so be sure that you’re aware of how this process works by visiting the official HPSA designation process page, here.
Where Can I Find the List of Approved HPSAs?
Fortunately, the HRSA makes it extremely easy to find a list of approved HPSAs, via their HSPA Finder Tool, which you can access here.
Any time you’re thinking about changing jobs, or even just looking at job listings, I would highly advise that you consult this tool to see if you can find any eligible HPSAs in areas that you don’t think are too terrible, because again, it can be totally worth working in an HPSA since it can allow you to access benefits far faster than you’d otherwise be able to earn them.
Also, oftentimes working in an HPSA allows you to experience much more senior roles far earlier than you’d get them under normal conditions, since these understaffed areas almost always have a high need for effective nurses, so choosing to serve in an HPSA could be a great jump-start to your career, or open up possibilities for moving into management, or new specialty areas.
If you feel like your career has hit a standstill, or if you’re just having trouble getting hired, look into the HPSAs because you’ll find it far easier to land a job in an HPSA due to the lower volume of applicants each job listing receives.
What are Medically Underserved Areas or Populations? (MUA/Ps)
Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs) refer to a similar thing as HPSAs (explained above), and are also used to help determine access to nursing student loan forgiveness benefits.
Typically, the benefits are going to be better for anyone willing to work in an MUA or MUP than they would be if you chose to work in a more ideal location.
MUAs are almost always designated geographic areas that have been determined to lack sufficient medical staff, especially primary care personnel, and the MUA designation is typically assigned to a:
- Group of Neighboring Counties
- Group of Urban Census Tracts
- Group of County or Civil Divisions
MUPs are similar to MUAs, but assigned to groups of people living within a geographic area, and typically assigned to groups of people who are poor, uneducated, culturally awkward and/or non-English speaking segments of the population… basically, the lower-class.
I’m not going to use the politically correct language that the official websites do to explain who these people are, so please don’t think I’m being insensitive, I just want you to know what you could be getting into when we’re talking about who you may be helping if you choose to work in an MUA.
MUAs tend to be:
- Prisoners (like, literally, the people in a Prison)
- Medicaid Recipients
- Native Americans
- Migrant Farmworkers
- Recent Immigrants (especially from developing countries)
The way that the HRSA determines whether or not a group becomes eligible for the MUA or MUP designation is based on what they call the “Index of Medical Underservice” or IMU, which is calculated based on four important factors:
- The ratio of individuals in the population group to the number of health services providers
- The percentage of the population that lives under the federal poverty line
- The percentage of the population that is over the age of 65
- The population group’s infant mortality rate
IMUs range from 0 to 100, with 0 areas being completely underserved (basically akin to third world countries without any healthcare infrastructure whatsoever), and areas with a 100 score being places with all sorts of medical personnel. To count as an MUA or MUP, a population needs to score a 62 or less on the IMU scale.
If you feel that the area in which you work deserves to be labelled as an MUP, it is possible to apply for the designation by contacting the HRSA and providing them with details on why you feel they should be considered. To find out how to handle this, please see the HRSA’s official page on teh MUA/MUP designation process, here.
Where Can I Find the List of Approved MUA/Ps?
The great thing about MUAs and MUPs is that it’s pretty easy to figure out whether or not any area has been approved by the HRSA, and you can even search for MUAs and MUPs based on a variety of search criteria, like by State, or by County.
This can be extremely helpful if you’re thinking about getting a job within an MUA or MUP, but want to make sure that one exists near wherever you currently live, or where you want to end up living after starting your new role.
Once again, just like they created a tool to search for HPSAs, the HRSA has also made it quite easy to find a list of the current designated MUAs and MUPs scattered across the country, so unlike the old days, this process no longer feels like pulling teeth.
If you’re interested in finding a location or population that’s approved as an MUA or MUP, please visit the official HRSA MUA/P finder tool, here.
What Other Forgiveness Options do I Have?
If you don’t qualify for any of the nursing student loan forgiveness programs listed above, I’ve got some good news: there are ALL SORTS of additional Forgiveness and Discharge programs currently available to ALL SORTS of different people.
And the best news is that nurses are likely to access many of the other programs I haven’t listed here, because virtually every population center wants more nurses, and all sorts of organizations and associations have generously constructed awards, scholarships, grants and other financial assistance programs specifically tailored to nurses.
My recommendation for anyone who’s buried in student loans and unable to figure out what you should be doing with them is to check out some of the other high-value programs listed on my website.
If you need Help with Federal Student Loans check out my pages on Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs, The Borrower’s Defense Against Repayment Program, the Closed School Student Loan Discharge Program, Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges, Federal Student Loan Consolidation Programs and Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans.
And if you need Help with Private Student Loans, visit my pages about Private Loan Forgiveness Programs, Private Student Loan Consolidation Programs, Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharges and Private Student Loan Default Help.
Also, if you’ve got any questions about what specific programs are available to you, then please do feel free to ask them in the Comments section below. I do my best to answer any and all questions within 24 hours of being posted.
Student Loan Forgiveness & Taxable Income Laws
One extremely important thing to keep in mind when dealing with student loan forgiveness benefits is that virtually all forgiveness options will lead to some kind of tax liabilities, except for the benefits offered under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
The reason this happens is that the IRS considers student loan forgiveness to be a form of “taxable income”, so when you receive forgiveness, you’ll need to claim the amount of debt you get forgiven on your IRS paperwork when you file taxes that year.
Unfortunately, this can end up causing people more trouble than it solves for them, by creating a short-term financial disaster where they were facing long-term financial struggles previously. How?
Because you may be qualifying for very low monthly student loan payments, even potentially a payment of $0 per month, but the year you receive forgiveness, you may end up needing to claim $10,000, $30,000, or perhaps even over $100,000 in forgiveness benefits as part of your taxable income for the year.
And even if you’re a low earner, and paying only 25% in taxes on your income, 25% of $100,000 is $25,000, meaning your tax bill for the year would be whatever you had to pay on your regular salary, PLUS the $25,000 in taxes you now owe on your forgiveness benefits.
As you can imagine, this can lead to disastrously large tax bills, sending people into all sorts of trouble with the IRS. And if you think you’ve got things bad trying to negotiate with student loan servicing companies, you have no idea how bad they can get once the IRS gets involved…
And for those of you who are already having trouble with the IRS, be sure to check out new site about dealing with tax debt issues, called Forget Tax Debt. On this site, I cover complicated tax-related topics like How to Get Free Help with IRS Tax Debt, Filing and Paying Back Taxes, Tax Debt Forgiveness Programs, Settling With the IRS, Benefits of the IRS Fresh Start Program, and even How to Avoid IRS Phone and Mail Scams.
Is it Enough? Or Do Nurses Deserve Even More?
There will always be some debate about how much forgiveness any profession truly deserves, but I’d like to hear from you nurses out there whether you think you’re being offered enough, or if you think more assistance is necessary?
Also – what’s been your experience with utilizing these benefits packages? Have you qualified for and received forgiveness under any of the programs I listed above? Are you trying to receive it, but having problems?
Let me know what you think about the available nursing loan forgiveness programs, or about your experiences in using them in the comments section below!
Also, while I’ve got your attention, if this page helped you to better understand the benefits available to you, please help me out by spreading the word!
Consider emailing it friends, sharing it on Facebook, tweeting about it on Twitter or posting a link to it on Reddit.
The more eyeballs who see my content, the more time I can dedicate to preparing new comprehensive guides like this one.
Thank you for visiting, and be sure to check back regularly for updates!
- The Official Federal Student Aid Website for Nursing Loan Forgiveness Benefits
- The Official HRSA Page for Loan Repayment Benefits
- What is an HPSA?
- The Official HRSA HPSA Finder Tool
- What is a Medically Underserved Area or Population (MUA/Ps)?
- The Official HRSA MUA Finder Tool
- Critical Shortage Facility Finder
Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.