Nurse Loan Forgiveness Programs: How to Choose the Right Program for You

nurse loan forgiveness

By Brook Jillings, Contributor

Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career, but getting your license can be expensive. Fortunately, nurses can take advantage of the many nurse loan forgiveness programs available to relieve themselves of student debt and enjoy their new careers with a clean financial slate. 


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Nurse loan forgiveness programs

Learn about the types of forgiveness programs available and which ones may be right for you.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Nurses may qualify for forgiveness of federal Direct Loans after making 120 qualified loan payments while working for a government organization, working for a not-for-profit organization or volunteering full-time with the AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.

Federal Perkins Loan cancellation

Nurses who provide five years of eligible service can have 100 percent of their Federal Perkins Loans cancelled.

State nursing loan forgiveness programs

Many states also offer loan forgiveness to nurses, especially those who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Program requirements and limitations vary between states.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

This is a federal program created to pay a portion of student loans for nurses who work full-time at a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) or eligible schools of nursing.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSCLRP)

Nurses can receive up to $50,000 towards their student loans in exchange for two years of working at a site approved by the NHSC. These benefits are limited to nurse practitioners, nurse practitioners-mental health, certified nurse midwives and psychiatric nurse specialists.

Employer-based nursing loan forgiveness

Some employers will offer loan repayment options as part of the benefits package. These benefits vary by employer.

Choosing the right nurse loan forgiveness program for you

When considering your options for nurse loan forgiveness programs, here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • What type of loans do you have? Different programs focus on different loan types,so you'll need to narrow the list down to those that cover your loans.
  • Are you willing to relocate? Some programs require work in specific areas. If you don't happen to live near one, it may be necessary to relocate to a qualifying area.
  • How much time are you willing to invest? Many programs require a service commitment. Choosing to dedicate two years versus five years to loan forgiveness can have a big impact on the amount forgiven.

It's also important to factor in your current financial status, loan payment amounts, chosen nursing position and employment opportunities. Nurse loan forgiveness can be valuable compensation for your professional time, but you will need to weigh the financial reward against your earning potential when you aren't limited by area. Choose the program that offers the highest financial and emotional reward in exchange for qualifications and commitments you can live with.


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