There are many programs available that provide student loan forgiveness for nurses, offered both by the federal government and by individual states.
Being a nurse can be an incredibly rewarding profession, but the required education can be costly.
The latest figures from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show that nearly 70 percent of nurses take out student loans to finance their education, with a median student loan debt of $40,000 to $54,999.
That’s why student loan forgiveness programs are so important for borrowers burdened by debt.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses 2022
Nurses have multiple options when it comes to student loan forgiveness, although some programs have more hoops to jump through than others.
Other Nurse Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Depending on where you work and the type of student loans you owe, you might be eligible for a national student loan forgiveness program for nursing students.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal student loan forgiveness program.
Through PSLF, you may qualify to have your remaining student loan balances forgiven after you make 120 qualifying payments on an income-driven repayment plan toward your loans.
You don’t have to be a nurse to apply for PSLF, but you do have to work full-time for an eligible employer for at least 10 years while you’re repaying your federal student loan debt.
Since many nurses work for nonprofit or government organizations, this particular student loan forgiveness program is often a good fit.
2. Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is available through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The program applies to both federal and private student loans and will pay off up to 85 percent of your nursing school debt.
However, you may have to pay federal income tax (deducted from the award), based on the amount you receive.
3. National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) is another student loan forgiveness option offered through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Full-time nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurse specialists, and nurse-midwives may be able to wipe out up to $50,000 of both federal and private student loan debt through the program.
Part-time nurse practitioners and nurse midwives may receive up to $25,000 in loan forgiveness.
In exchange for loan forgiveness, you must commit to at least two years of service at an NHSC-approved facility. The facility must be located in an area with a critical need for more healthcare professionals (i.e., a Health Professional Shortage Area).
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4. Perkins Loan cancellation
Perkins Loans were previously available to undergraduate and graduate students with financial needs. However, the program ended in 2017, and final loan disbursements were issued in 2018.
If you received Perkins Loans in the past to help pay for nursing school, you may qualify for cancellation of up to 100 percent of your debt over five years.
Nurses, teachers, and other qualifying professionals may be able to take advantage of this program.
Additional programs offering student loan forgiveness for nurses are available if you live or work in certain locations, or if you serve in the Armed Forces.
5. Indian Health Services Loan Repayment
The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) offers to repay up to $40,000 of qualified student loans when you agree to an initial two-year service obligation.
Qualifying nurses agree to work full-time at a health program site that serves American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
This program’s availability is based on staffing needs at Indian Health Service facilities, as well as the availability of funds.
Further, funds are disbursed based on a ranking system, with preference given to American Indian and Alaska Native applicants.
6. Military Loan Forgiveness For Nurses
Nurses who agree to military service may see tens of thousands of dollars of their student loans forgiven.
For instance, the United States Navy website says that nursing students who serve full time in the Navy can qualify for up to $34,000 in loan repayment to help pay for nursing school through the Nurse Candidate Program (NCP).
This aid is given out as an initial grant of $10,000, plus a stipend of $1,000 per month for up to 24 months.
7. State-Specific Student Loan Forgiveness
Many states have loan forgiveness programs that apply to nurses and other health care professionals.
With Alaska’s SHARP program, for example, nurse practitioners and registered nurses can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan repayment assistance if they agree to work in a nursing shortage area.
In the state of Florida, on the other hand, nurses who work full-time in service shortage areas can qualify for up to $4,000 in loan repayment assistance per year for up to four years.
Here are just some of the loan forgiveness programs for nurses at the state level:
Alaska’s SHARP program is designed to recruit healthcare professionals to work in specified shortage areas in exchange for loan assistance.
Nurses can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan forgiveness depending on their position and location. Interestingly, employers must match the loan forgiveness as part of the program.
Under the Arizona Loan Repayment Program, qualified health care professionals working in Health Professional Shortage Areas can receive loan assistance to help pay off their student loan debt.
Nurse practitioners can either work full or half time and must commit to working at a qualified site for at least two years. Nurses can receive up to $50,000 in repayment assistance for the first two years.
Registered nurses who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area can receive up to $10,000 through the California State Loan Repayment Program.
There is a one-year commitment at a qualifying organization. Recipients can be awarded up to three times.
Loan forgiveness for nurse practitioners is available through the Colorado Health Service Corps program. Nurse practitioners who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area may be eligible for loan assistance.
Nurses must work for three years at a qualifying organization. This program offers assistance for nurses on both a full-time and part-time basis.
Full-time nurses can receive up to $50,000, and nurses who work half-time are eligible for up to $25,000.
Nurse practitioners in Hawaii who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas may receive loan assistance through the Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program.
Applicants must work full-time for two years or half-time for four years at a qualifying organization. This is a grant-funded program, which means the amount awarded depends on the funds available.
Like other states, Florida’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers financial assistance (up to $4K/year for 4 years) for nurses to work in shortage areas.
Nurses in Illinois who commit to working in veterans’ homes may be eligible for loan assistance of up to $5,000 per year for four years.
To be eligible for the Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, nurses must be an Illinois residents;
Meet certain licensing requirements from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and have their employment verified in good standing by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs
The Health Care Loan Repayment Program requires a 5-year service commitment in exchange for $6,000 or 20% of the qualified loan balance.
Under the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program, practitioners who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas may be eligible for awards from $10,000 to $25,000 each year for two years.
This program is available to a variety of health care professionals who work in a nonprofit or public setting. Funds must be matched dollar to dollar by the employer.
Under the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program, nurse practitioners can receive up to $20,000 in repayment assistance by committing to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years.
The program is competitive and open to other health care professionals, too.
Kentucky’s State Loan Repayment Program is open to both APRNs and RNs and uses a sponsoring program to match loans 50-50.
For RNs, the max amount dispersed in exchange for a two-year service commitment is $20,000.
The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program was created to encourage health care professionals to serve in rural or inner-city communities in exchange for loan assistance.
The importance of this program came to light after Hurricane Katrina when there was an overwhelming need for nurses in Louisiana.
Nurses who work full-time at a designated Health Professional Shortage Area or a nonprofit may be able to receive up to $15,000 each year with a three-year commitment.
Through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program, Maryland residents who work as nurses at qualified organizations serving low-income and underserved residents may be eligible for loan assistance.
Eligible candidates must have a nursing degree or diploma, be employed, and have earned a degree in Maryland. School nurses do not qualify. In addition, your gross salary may not be more than $60,000.
The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP)
It is used to recruit both medical and dental providers by offering up to $200,000 for qualifying loans in exchange for a commitment to service practices in underserved communities designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
Only APRNs qualify for this loan, so a regular RN would not qualify.
The Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program offers repayment assistance to licensed practical or registered nurses who work with people with developmental disabilities or in a licensed nursing home.
The program requires a commitment of at least two years, which can be extended for another two years in nursing homes.
Eligible candidates may receive $5,000 each year, with a maximum award of $20,000 over four years.
The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work full-time at a Montana state hospital or state prison.
Eligible candidates must submit proof that their current loan balance is at least $1,000. The amount awarded depends on the number of candidates, as well as available state funding.
Program participants can apply for repayment assistance for up to four years.
The Nebraska Loan Repayment Programs are a group of matching-fund programs to recruit health care professionals in Nebraska. Local entities will match state dollars to assist with employees’ loan repayment.
Nurse practitioners are eligible for this program if they commit to working for two to four years in a designated shortage area.
The contract period is three years for one program and two years for the other, with the possibility of a two-year contract extension. Eligible candidates can receive up to $15,000 each year.
18. New Hampshire
Under the New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program, select nurses who work in underserved areas may be eligible for awards of up to $45,000.
Eligible candidates must work full-time for at least 36 months. If interested, candidates can extend the program for another two years and receive an additional $20,000.
19. New Mexico
The New Mexico Health Professional Loan Repayment Program offers financial assistance to nurse practitioners and advanced-practice nurses who work full-time in a medical shortage area for two years.
Eligible candidates must be residents and licensed in New Mexico.
20. New York
The New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program was created to attract adjunct clinical faculty and nursing faculty members to teach in New York State.
The program offers registered nurses with graduate degrees who have worked as educators in the field of nursing up to $40,000.
Eligible candidates can receive $8,000 per year for five years under this program.
Ohio’s Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program assists Ohio nursing students who enrolled for at least half-time study.
The funds can also be used for nurses who plan to be nursing instructors later as well.
The Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment Program requires nurses to commit to either 2 years of full-time service or 4 years of part-time service in a health shortage area to qualify for repayment.
Full-time nurses can receive 50% of their loan, up to $35K per year, while part-time can receive up to $17.5K per year.
This is also a matching program, so half of the funding will be required to come from the nurse’s employer.
The Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses who work in designated Health Professional Shortage areas.
Eligible candidates can receive up to $60,000, part-time nurses can receive up to $30,000. The service commitment is two years.
24. Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program requires 2 years of full-time work or 4 part-time work in a health shortage area for loan repayment.
The Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program only requires 12 consecutive months in a qualified rural community to qualify for a tax payment of $10K.
The Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage Tennessee nurses to become educators.
To be eligible for student loan forgiveness for nurses, candidates must be residents, have a nursing license, and be enrolled in a higher education nursing program.
Candidates must work full-time for four years to have their loans forgiven. This program is a type of student loan that will be forgiven after working as a teacher.
Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program for Nurses offers a maximum annual award of $6,000.
The service commitment is usually 12 months in an underserved area designated by the program.
To qualify for the program, nurses must agree to work a minimum of 45 weeks each year, with 20 hours per week dedicated to clinical hours.
The Virginia State Loan Repayment Program could grant nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives up to $100,000 total toward their outstanding student loan balances.
Eligible candidates must commit to two years of service, which you can extend for a third or fourth year and receive an additional $40,000 annually.
To be eligible, applicants must be working in their field at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of 45 weeks per year.
Through the Health Professions Loan Assistance Program, nurses in Wisconsin may receive up to $50,000 in loan assistance.
Eligible candidates must commit to working for at least three years in a qualified underserved or urban community.
The Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for nurses who work full-time in qualifying Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Eligible candidates must commit to working for at least two years in exchange for an award of up to $20,000.
31. West Virginia
West Virginia’s State Loan Repayment Program offers student loan forgiveness for nurses practicing full-time for a minimum of two years in underserved rural areas.
Qualifying sites must be in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area.
Eligible candidates can receive up to $40,000 for a two-year commitment and may receive an additional $25,000 for another two years if the contract is extended. There is a maximum of four years of funding totaling $90,000.
8. Hospital-Specific Repayment and Reimbursement
Some hospital systems also offer loan repayment or forgiveness plans to nurses who agree to work in an eligible position, although the qualification requirements vary.
Some examples include the following:
1. CHI Health in Nebraska offers a tuition assistance program for nurses, which is worth up to $5,250 per year for full-time nurses and $2,625 per year for nurses who work part-time.
2. Cleveland Clinic in Ohio offers tuition assistance of $2,500 to $7,500 per year for full-time nurses based on their level of education.
Part-time nurses can also qualify for $1,250 to $3,750 in tuition assistance per year.
3. Craig Hospital in Colorado offers tuition assistance of up to $5,000 per year for eligible employees.
4. Indiana University Health in Indiana offers $5,250 per year in tuition assistance for eligible nursing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.
5. Norwell Health in New York offers up to $5,000 per year in tuition assistance for nurses and other eligible employees pursuing associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees.
Student Loan Forgiveness for Healthcare Workers
Like other public service employees, healthcare providers who work at nonprofit or government organizations can qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
You can also sign up for an income-driven repayment plan to pay off your federal loans.
This lowers monthly payments to a percentage of your income resulting in forgiveness of any remaining balance after 20 or 25 years.
Loan Forgiveness Options for Healthcare Workers
Student loan repayment and forgiveness programs can limit the amount you’re required to pay back.
And it’s not just physicians who may qualify for student loan forgiveness based on their healthcare service.
Student loan forgiveness for nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, licensed clinical social workers, dentists, veterinarians, researchers and more all have programs available. Here are some you should consider.
1. National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs
The National Health Service Corps, run by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration, offers three different loan repayment programs for healthcare providers.
These offer loan repayment assistance in exchange for at least two or three years of service in certain locations:
1. NHSC Loan Repayment Program
This option is for primary care medical, dental or mental health providers.
In exchange for two years of employment in an HPSA, you can receive up to $50,000 in loan repayment for full-time work or up to $25,000 for part-time work.
A contract extension beyond two years is possible, which can help you pay off your remaining outstanding loan balance.
2. NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program
This option is for trained and licensed substance use disorder treatment providers, particularly for opioid addiction.
You must work in a primary care medical, dental or mental health discipline at an NHSC-approved substance use disorder treatment site in an HPSA.
You can get up to $75,000 for three years of full-time work or $37,500 for part-time work.
3. NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program
Also focused on substance use and opioid addiction treatment providers, this program provides a larger amount of student loan repayment assistance if you commit to working in a rural area.
You can earn up to $100,000 in assistance for three years of full-time work or $50,000 for part-time work.
4. NHSC Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
Nurses have an additional NHSC-run loan repayment assistance program to choose from Nurse Corps.
If you’re a registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, or nurse faculty, you could have up to 85% of your outstanding nursing school debt paid off.
To qualify, you must work in an eligible critical shortage facility or an accredited school of nursing for at least 32 hours per week.
The student loan repayment award is 60% of debt paid off over two years plus another 25% paid off for an optional third year.
2. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Loan Repayment Programs
Clinical researchers focused on biomedical or biobehavioral research can receive up to $50,000 in loan repayment per year from the NIH;
Whether they’re working at an NIH lab or for an external employer on research deemed critical for the NIH.
You must have a doctoral degree, such as an M.D., Ph.D., Pharm.D., Psy.D., or D.D.S., and your student loan debt must equal to or exceed 20% of your salary.
3. Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
The federal Indian Health Service awards up to $40,000 in loan repayment to clinicians who commit to two years of service in healthcare facilities focused on serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
A wide range of professions can qualify, from advanced practice nurses to physical therapists (with a master’s or doctoral degree) to licensed acupuncturists.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service Program
This two-year postgraduate fellowship is an opportunity for physicians, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists, and more to investigate epidemiological outbreaks, natural disasters, or other public health issues for the CDC.
You may be assigned to a state or local office or the CDC headquarters.
One of the benefits is up to $50,000 per year in student loan repayment, depending on funding availability. Only federal student loans qualify for repayment.
5. State-specific Programs
In addition to federal agencies, many states offer forgiveness programs for healthcare workers. These programs often require participants to work in rural communities, HPSAs, or other high-need areas.
Here are a couple of examples of state-specific programs for healthcare workers:
Doctors in primary care specialties can earn up to $25,000 per year for four years when working full-time in rural areas in Georgia through the Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Program.
The Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program also provides $25,000 per year in loan repayment for two years and $35,000 per year for optional third and fourth years to eligible healthcare workers in HPSAs.
Award amounts and service commitments vary and whether or not the award amount is taxable as income depends on the program.
To find state opportunities specific to your discipline, check with your school or explore lists maintained by industry organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Dental Education Association.
Pros and Cons of Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
While student loan forgiveness programs sound incredible at first glance and for many individuals who say they can be life-changing they do warrant consideration over the pros and cons.
Relying on a student loan forgiveness program for your nursing education may not always be the best route for you, depending on your situation.
Some of the pros of using a student loan forgiveness program can include:
- Full loan forgiveness
- Options for nurses who know they will stay in consecutive employment
On the other hand, the cons include:
‣ You won’t be able to switch employers if your forgiveness program requires consecutive employment
Alternatives to Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses
If you don’t think student loan forgiveness or loan assistance is right for your situation, then consider these alternative ways to save money on your student loans.
1. Income-Driven Repayment Plan
If you have a federal student loan, the Department of Education offers four types of IDR plans you might qualify for.
Each plan allows you to make monthly student loan payments based on a percentage of your discretionary income and family size. Repayment terms range from 20 to 25 years.
Moreover, once the repayment term ends, any remaining balance you have is forgiven. This forgiven amount used to be taxable. But under current federal law, there are no taxes on the forgiven student loan amount through 2025.
2. Refinance Your Student Loans
When you refinance your student loans, you take out a new loan with a private lender to pay off some or all of your current federal or private student loans.
Your new loan usually comes with different terms, and potentially a lower rate. However, If you receive a lower rate, you’ll save on interest.
For example, say you have 10 years to repay a $50,000 student loan with a 7% interest rate.
If you refinanced to a 10-year loan for the same amount at 4% interest, you could save $8,918. On top of that, your monthly payment would drop from $581 to $506.