Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness
Loans are the most common form of student financial aid. Unlike scholarships or grants, you eventually have to repay your loan costs. Since they also incur interest, you usually end up paying more than the initial cost. Exact terms will depend on tender and a number of other factors. There are a number of loans available to you, and picking the right type for your situation is important for your long-term financial security.
The majority of medical students use federal student loans, and it is not hard to see why. Since they are funded by the US Department of Education, interest rates are lower and there are less to no hidden fees. If you meet certain criteria, you can qualify for subsidized loans that do not do not gain interest while you are in school. Unsubsidized loans still gain interest while you study, but are still viable if you cannot qualify for subsidized loans.
Private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, educational institutions, and other independent entities. Certain educational bodies may offer Federal Perkins loans for low income students. For the most part, these loans are not subsidized and their interest rates are significantly higher. To avoid a host of financial complications, later on, you need to search with scrutiny. Do not look at the offers at face value: evaluate hidden costs, what happens if you cannot keep up financially with later payments, and how repayments are structured.
Different loans have different repayment structures. Federal loans can be paid for after graduation, but you have no choice but to pay for private loans while you study. In most cases, loans have to be repaid within 10 years after graduation.
There are generally two kinds of repayment plans:
Standard: The loaner repays a monthly set amount.
Graduated: Payments start low and increase every two years. They will not grow larger than three times the monthly payment.
If sudden events render you suddenly incapable of repaying, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible. Most programs offer repayment plans that can be deferred in times of financial hardship. In case of emergency, you want to make sure that your loan has this option before you put any pen to paper.
Federal loans and some private loans offer forgiveness programs. Provided that you meet certain qualifying criteria, you may not have to repay the full amount of your loan. For instance, The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is the most common loan forgiveness program. Once you have made a minimum of 120 qualifying monthly payments, the remaining balance for all your federal loans may be forgiven, provided that you do not default your payments.
For this program in particular, you also have to work for a qualifying employer such as:
A full-time Volunteer on AmeriCorps or Peace Corps
A federal, state, local or tribal government organization
A non-profit that is or is not tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
If you do not qualify for the Public Service program, you have alternatives. You can avail of the
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP). You can avail of loan forgiveness from the NCLRP. In exchange, you will be made to complete a few years of service at a facility experiencing critical shortages. You need to complete at least two years for 60% forgiveness, but you can gain an additional 25% for an extra year of service.
State-Level Loan Forgiveness: Every state has their own loan forgiveness programs. Since qualifications and requirements vary, you have to find this information on the website for your state’s Board of Nursing. For example, some states are offering forgiveness thanks to the shortages brought upon by COVID-19, while others have different criteria.
There are even hospitals that provide loan forgiveness to their employees after a certain amount of years of service. Typically, these are smaller community hospitals in rural areas.
Your employing hospital could potentially reimburse you for your educational costs. Consult your human resources to see if they offer tuition reimbursement and ask for the requirements if they do. Some schools offer this assistance to all students, while others only help registered nurses aiming for a higher degree like BSN. Requirements will vary but employees typically need to meet a minimum number of work hours along with proof of enrollment. Some programs will provide immediate financial aid, while others will only send the money once you have successfully completed it. You can also expect post-graduate work commitment, though the length of this will depend.
Go out there!
While some plans have certain requirements, there are always options available to you. As long as you pick the right plan for you, while staying on top of any requirements or costs, you should be good as gold! Committed and driven BSN students do not deserve to be hindered by financial barriers. People like you improve the lives of others and make the healthcare industry that much better.