A Guide to Nursing Student Loans

Guide to Nursing Student Loans: What You Should Know

Pursuing a nursing program can lead to a rewarding career, but as the cost of higher education grows, paying for nursing school might just cause your blood pressure to rise.

Financial aid, including nursing student loans, can help fill the gap between money on hand and education costs, but it’s good to think about your future pay compared with the debt you’re willing to take on.

What Are Nursing School Loans?

Nursing school student loans are a type of financial aid available to eligible college students who are enrolled in a program for licensed practical or vocational nurses, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or nurse anesthetists.

Depending on the loan program, federal student loans for nursing degrees can either be need-based or not. Another option to fill in gaps in need: private student loans.

Unlike grants and scholarships, nursing school loans must be repaid, though special programs like the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program offer loan forgiveness.

Most loan programs, federal and private, have a grace period during school and after graduation before repayment must begin.

Types of Loans Available for Nursing School Students

The Department of Education provides options for federal nursing student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

Eligible borrowers can also explore private student loans for additional funding, if needed.

If you do borrow, you’ll be in good company. Take a guess at how many people have student loans. The answer is about 45 million Americans; the vast majority have federal student loans.

And the cost of nursing school? It varies by institution and length of study. Getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing generally costs the same as most bachelor’s degrees.

Direct Subsidized Loans

A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is available to undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time at a participating school. Students are required to demonstrate financial need to qualify.

If a nursing student qualifies for a Direct Subsidized Loan, the school determines how much they can receive for that academic year. The government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time, during a six-month grace period after leaving school, and during any deferment granted for economic hardship, cancer treatment, or a few other reasons.

In comparing subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans, the first type favors borrowers more, thanks to how accrued interest is paid.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. These loans are not based on financial need, but schools still decide how much students can borrow toward an academic year.

The key difference with this nursing loan option is that students are responsible for interest charges as soon as the loan funds are disbursed.

Direct PLUS Loans

Another federal option for nursing student loans is the Direct PLUS Loan. Grad PLUS Loans are available to graduate students who are pursuing an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing.

Parents of an undergraduate student can help fund their child’s education through a parent PLUS Loan; undergrads don’t have direct access to this loan option.

Direct PLUS Loans are non-need based and require a credit check. Borrowers are responsible for all interest that accrues. They can receive up to the school’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.

Private Student Loans

Nursing students who need funding beyond federal student loans can consider private student loans. Private student loans are offered by private financial institutions like banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Each lender has its own eligibility requirements, interest rates, and loan terms. If you’re eligible for a private student loan, your interest rate and loan details will depend on various factors, including your credit score. Most lenders welcome your bringing a solid cosigner aboard.

Pros and Cons of Loans for Nursing School

The average student loan debt among all health care professionals can be eye-opening, yet healers usually feel the need to heed the call, no matter the cost.

Nursing student loans can be a fast way to finance your college education. However, before jumping in, weigh the benefits of student loans against their disadvantages.

Pros

Cons

Quick financing for college costs Will make years of payments after leaving school
Some student loans let you borrow up to the cost of attendance Can cause borrowers to postpone other life goals during repayment
Can make paying for higher education possible for those who are ineligible for other types of financial aid You may need a cosigner to qualify
Repaying student loans on time can help build your credit history Defaulting on student loans can harm your credit and result in additional financial hardship

Applying for Nursing Student Loans

The process to apply for nursing student loans depends on the loan option chosen.

Comparing Loans

If you’re thinking about taking out student loans, you might want to compare federal student loans you might be offered in your aid package, as well as private student loans.

Prioritizing federal student loans before private student loans can be a good idea, since federal loans offer advantages like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives any remaining federal student loan balance after certain borrowers make 120 qualifying payments.

If private nursing student loans are still needed to pay for college, check offers across multiple private lenders. Comparing a handful of private student loan offers can help you find competitive rates and terms.

Applying for Loans

Federal nursing student loans and private student loans have distinct application processes. You must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) before the academic year to see if you’re eligible for federal aid.

Private student loans don’t require the FAFSA. Instead, private nursing student loan applications can be submitted online, in person, or by mail, depending on the lender. They require the would-be borrower, or a cosigner, to meet credit and income requirements.

After Applying

It’s a good idea to start the process early when seeking federal student loans for your nursing education. The time between submitting the FAFSA and disbursement of the loan funds to your school can be months.

The turnaround time after applying to receive private student loan funds can be notably shorter. Getting pre-qualified for a loan can take just minutes.

In general, if you’re approved for a private nursing student loan, you can expect to wait up to 10 weeks after your loan is approved to receive the funds.

Alternative Financing Options for Nursing Students

Securing nursing school student loans is only one of many ways to finance your higher education.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are a general-purpose loan option that can be used toward nursing school. A credit check is required.

Repayment begins as soon as funds are disbursed. Check your rate and decide if a personal loan makes sense. One good thing is, you may get your loan funds the day your loan is approved.

Grants

Grants are provided through the federal government, state, your school, nonprofit entities, and private organizations. Since grant funding doesn’t need to be paid back, this aid alternative lets nursing students leave school with less student debt.

Employer Sponsorship

If you plan on working while you’re enrolled in nursing school, you can ask if your company has a sponsorship program. Generally in this situation, your employer will send funds directly to your school.

Private Student Loans From SoFi

If federal student loans for nursing school don’t quite go the distance, consider a private student loan from SoFi.

There are no loan fees. Choose a fixed or variable rate, and add a cosigner if needed.

It’s fast and easy to check your rate.

FAQ

How do nursing students get loans?

Nursing students can see if they’re eligible for federal student loans by submitting the FAFSA. Private nursing student loans are also available through various private lenders.

Can nursing school loans be forgiven?

Nursing professionals might be eligible for loan forgiveness through federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.

What is the average student loan amount for a nurse?

The median student loan debt among nurses ranges from $40,000 to $55,000, according to the most recent report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Those who pursue a Master of Science in Nursing are often left with more than $47,000 in student loan debt, according to NurseJournal.

For perspective, in terms of educational investment and earnings, registered nurses earned a median annual wage of $77,600 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. RNs usually have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who complete a state-approved educational program that typically takes about one year, had median pay of $48,070 per year.

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, who must earn at least a master’s degree, had median pay of $123,780 per year.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Photo credit: iStock/erdikocak
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Guide to Student Loan Interest Rates for the 2022 School Year

Once a year, usually in June, the government announces interest rates for federal student loans that will be first disbursed after July 1. Whether you’re a freshman or, say, a junior, these rates apply to the loans you get for the academic year that starts in the fall.

Federal student loan interest rates are determined differently than private student loan interest rates. Here’s what you should know about federal and private student loan interest rates in 2022 and 2023.

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates for 2022

As just noted, interest rates on federal student loans for the upcoming academic year are set by the government. By federal law, they’re based on the 10-year Treasury note auction in May. The rates set for the 2022 to 2023 school year are for loans first disbursed from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

For the 2023-2024 school year, the interest rate on Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans for undergraduates is 5.50%, the rate on Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate and professional students is 7.05%, and the rate on Direct PLUS loans for graduate students, professional students, and parents is 8.05%. The interest rates on federal student loans are fixed and are set annually by Congress.

How Federal Student Loan Interest Rates Work

Interest rates on federal student loans are fixed for the life of the loan. That means that if you borrowed a Direct Subsidized Loan for the 2020 – 2021 school year, and your interest rate was 2.75%, that interest rate is locked in at 2.75% for the life of that loan.

But, if you borrowed another Direct Subsidized Loan to pay for the 2021 – 2022 school year, your new loan will be disbursed with the 3.73% interest rate offered during that school year.

Since 2006, interest rates on federal student loans have fluctuated from anywhere between 2.75 to 8.50%, depending on the type of loan.

Difference Between Federal and Private Student Loan Interest Rates

Unlike federal student loans, interest rates for private student loans are set based on economic factors and underwriting unique to each lender that issues them. Lenders typically take into account a borrower’s credit history, earning potential, and other personal financial factors.

If you borrowed a private student loan, you may have applied with a cosigner to secure a more competitive interest rate. That’s likely because most college students don’t have much credit history or employment history, so interest rates on private student loans can be higher than those on federal student loans without a well-qualified cosigner.

While federal student loans have a fixed-interest rate, private student loans can have either a fixed or variable interest rate. Borrowing a variable rate loan means that the interest rate can change periodically.

How Private Student Loan Interest Rates Work

The frequency of changes in the interest rate will depend on the terms of the loan and on market factors; typically, private lenders adjust the interest on variable-rate loans monthly, quarterly, or annually. Interest rates on private student loans are typically tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) or the 10-year Treasury yield.

So as the LIBOR changes, for example, interest rates on variable-rate student loans can change as well. Typically, lenders will add a margin to the LIBOR, which is determined based on credit score (and, the credit score of your co-signer if applicable).

Generally, the LIBOR tracks the federal funds rate closely. In June 2020, the Federal Reserve announced that it plans to keep the federal funds rate close to zero, likely through 2022.

This means that, so long as the federal funds rate remains low, the interest rates on private student loans are not likely to increase during that time period. However, it’s important to pay attention to interest rates, especially for borrowers with private student loans with a variable-interest rate, since these changes could cause fluctuations to the interest rate of the loan.

And given that LIBOR is scheduled to be discontinued around the end of 2021 , rates could change in other ways as new indices are chosen by lenders.

Lowering the Interest Rate on a Private Variable-Rate Loan

If you have a private variable-rate loan and are worried about interest-rate volatility, there are options available to protect against an interest-rate hike. One option is switching to a fixed-rate loan via student loan refinancing.

When you refinance your student loans, you take out a new loan (typically with a new lender).

The new loan effectively pays off your existing loans, and gives you a new loan with new terms, including a new interest rate. Private lenders, like SoFi, review personal financial factors like your credit and employment history, among other factors, to determine a new interest rate.

If you qualify to refinance, you’re then able to choose between a fixed or variable rate loan, so if you’re worried about rising interest rates in the future, you may have a chance to qualify to lock in a new (hopefully lower) fixed interest rate.

Monthly Payments and Private Loans

You should also have the opportunity to set a new repayment plan, either extending or shortening the term of the loan. If you extend your student loan repayment term, you’ll likely have lower monthly payments, but will pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

Shortening your repayment plan typically has the opposite effect. You may owe more each month, but will most likely spend less on interest over the life of the loan.

To get a general idea of how much refinancing your student loans could impact your repayment, take a look at SoFi’s student loan refinance calculator, where you can compare your current loan to current SoFi refinance student loan rates.

Refinancing Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans can be refinanced, too. Typically, a student wouldn’t do this while still in school, since the government is paying the interest on certain federal loans during this time. Also, federal student loan interest rates are generally lower than rates for private loans disbursed in the same time period.

It should be noted, however, that refinancing a federal student loan with a private lender means you’ll no longer be eligible for federal programs and protections like income-driven repayment, forbearance, or Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

The Takeaway

Interest rates for federal student loans reset every year in June for the upcoming school year. For the 2022 school year, rates are up roughly 1% compared to the previous year, which saw the lowest rates in years.

If you refinance your student loans with SoFi, there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. The application process can be completed online, and you can find out if you prequalify for a loan, and at what interest rate, in just a few minutes.

Ready to take control of your student loans in 2022 and beyond? See how refinancing with SoFi can help.




SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

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10 Tips on How to Pay for Nursing School

Ways to Pay for Nursing School

Nurses are in demand. From 2020-2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an average of 194,500 openings for registered nurses. Many of those openings come about due to nurses who switch occupations or exit the labor force, including those who retire.

Because nurses are in demand, you may want to attend nursing school. Let’s walk through 10 ways to help you figure out how to pay for nursing school.

1. Start With FAFSA

The Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA®) is a federal form that students can fill out every year that gives you access to federal and institutional aid to pay for college. Your college or educational institution will use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal grants, work-study, and federal loans to attend college or career school. There is no cost associated with the FAFSA.

You can file the FAFSA starting on October 1 for the subsequent academic year that you plan to attend college. For example, if you plan to attend nursing school in the fall of 2024, you can file the FAFSA starting on October 1 in the fall of 2023.

You’ll need a FSA ID, a username and password that confirms your identity when you’re looking at or signing official financial aid documents. You’ll need two separate FSA IDs — one for you and one for your parents, if you’re a dependent student.

You can list up to 10 colleges and universities on the FAFSA using the Federal School Code search to identify each of the schools where you’d like it sent.

The FAFSA’s data retrieval tool (IRS DRT) takes most of the work out of filing the FAFSA. It pulls information directly from the IRS. After you follow the FAFSA directions, you sign with your FSA ID.

2. Nursing School Scholarships

Some colleges may offer scholarships specific to nursing students. You can also look beyond your nursing major. Do you have talents in art, music, or leadership that could qualify you for a merit-based scholarship? (Merit-based scholarships are those that are not based on financial need.) Ask the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information about merit-based scholarships.

You can also take to the web to look for more scholarships. Here are a few examples:

•  The Healthline Stronger Scholarship awards four $5,000 scholarships to students who, based on their education, extracurricular activities, and career goals, are focused on both health and climate change.

•  The National Black Nurses Association, Inc (NBNA) offers several scholarships each year ranging from $1,000 to $15,000. To apply, you must be a member of the NBNA, currently enrolled in a nursing program and in good scholastic standing at the time of application with at least one full year of school remaining.

•  The FNSNA Undergraduate Scholarship awards scholarship funds based on a set of criteria established by the sponsor of the scholarship, which often outline a specific area of specialization within the nursing profession. Successful candidates can earn up to $10,000 per academic year.

In addition to looking into what your college or university can offer and searching online, take a look at local connections for specific educational or vocational programs in a particular field, such as nursing scholarships through local hospitals and privately owned doctor’s offices.

You can also look into community groups like 4-H, Kiwanis Club, and other organizations for available scholarships. Many foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also offer scholarships.

3. Grants for Nursing School

Grants are primarily need-based awards, though some grants are awarded based on merit. Like scholarships, grants do not need to be repaid once you complete your program. Filling the FAFSA will give you access to grants through programs like the Federal Pell Grant. The FAFSA automatically considers your eligibility for federal grants based on need.

You may also become eligible for state grants based on the grants available to you in your state.

Recommended: Grants For College – Find Free Money for Students

4. Federal Student Loans

Unlike scholarships and grants, you must pay back college loans. As a nursing student, you may tap into several types of federal student loans or private loans — both graduate or undergraduate loans.

Federal student loans are given to nursing students through the Department of Education, which, as mentioned, means that you must file the FAFSA in order to receive them.

Federal student loans offer flexibility in that you do not need to undergo a credit check, with the exception of the Direct PLUS Loan, which does require a credit check. Federal student loans also offer low-interest rates, various repayment plans, and forgiveness options. You could also use federal student loans to cover living expenses. For example, if you need to pay rent for an apartment while you’re attending nursing school, a federal student loan can help cover those expenses.

Types of Federal Loans

There are three main types of federal student loans: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans are low, fixed-rate federal loans for eligible undergraduate students to help cover the costs of college or career school. The government pays the interest while you are in school or during qualifying periods of deferment. Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans have a low, fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. Undergraduate, graduate and professional students can qualify for these loans. In contrast to the Direct Subsidized Loan, the government does not pay the interest while you’re in school. Students do not need to demonstrate financial need in order to qualify for an unsubsidized loan.

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans are another option available to graduate or professional students, and parents of undergraduate students. Unlike other federal loans, PLUS loans do require a credit check. Borrowers are able to borrow up to the full cost of attendance.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Student loan forgiveness for nurses means you don’t have to pay for your federal student loans in full. The federal government runs a few loan forgiveness programs that generally offer loan forgiveness after borrowers have fulfilled certain requirements. For example, the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program pays up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt for registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners, and nurse faculty members. You must qualify by working in a critical shortage facility or an eligible nursing school as a nurse faculty member.

Student Loan Payment Deferrals

Federal student loans do not have to be repaid until October 1, 2022, at the earliest. In March 2020, Congress passed a bill that automatically suspended student loan payments and waived interest. The benefit was originally set to expire but has been reinstituted several times.

Current nursing students who will graduate soon will not have to make student loan payments. Depending on what the federal government does next, they may also experience another extension.

5. Private Student Loans

Private student loans come from a local bank, credit union, or another type of private student loan lender, not the federal government. Like a federal student loan, you can use private student loans to cover living expenses, tuition, and other related school costs.

Lenders evaluate an applicant’s credit history, among other factors. Students who do not have a strong credit history or score may need to add a cosigner in order to qualify or potentially qualify for a lower interest rate. If you can’t pay back the loan, your co-signer is on the hook for paying back the loan.

Private Student Loans vs Federal Student Loans

As you likely know, there are some differences between private and federal student loans, which leads many financial experts to suggest taking out federal student loans over private student loans. Here are some features of private student loans that make them less advantageous over federal student loans:

•  May need a cosigner: Private student loans often require you to have a cosigner. However, if you make a certain number of on-time payments, you can apply to have your cosigner removed from the loan.

•  No federal protections: You can’t tap into income-driven repayment programs, loan forgiveness and deferment protections with private student loans like you can with federal student loans.

Due to these differences, private student loans are typically considered an option only after all other funding sources have been depleted.

Recommended: Private Students Loans vs Federal Student Loans

6. Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Through a tuition reimbursement program, a company covers some or all of the costs of an employee’s education as long as you follow the company’s tuition reimbursement requirements. This is a major benefit because you can work at another company, possibly through a part-time job. For example, the following companies offer tuition reimbursement: Target , Starbucks , and UPS .

7. Hospitals/Employers That Pay for Nursing School

Another option may be to work at a hospital or other health care employer through a tuition reimbursement program. For example, you could get a job in the billing office of the hospital and go to nursing school during your off hours, or you may be able to work with your employer to put together the best schedule for both of your needs.

Hospitals and health care employers want to retain good workers, particularly in nursing, which has such a shortage of employees.

Learn more about the health care employer’s requirements for tuition reimbursement, including the amount they will reimburse. Note that it may not equal 100% — it might be 75% or 50% instead.

8. Getting a Nursing Degree Abroad

Completing a nursing degree abroad can take about two to three years. However, you can find short-term study abroad programs (a fall semester, summer, or a few weeks between terms) in many different countries.

You can often find free programs, scholarships or grants that will help cover the cost of your study abroad program — some countries offer various options for students. Consider looking into countries that have reputable health care programs, such as Denmark, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, or Sweden.

9. Military Service

You may have a large range of education benefits if you complete military service. For example, you can access the Post-9/11 GI Bill if you served at least 90 days on active duty (either all at once or with breaks in service) on or after September 11, 2001, or received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001 and were honorably discharged (after any amount of time), or served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break in service) on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability, or are a dependent child using benefits transferred by a qualifying veteran or service member.

Follow the rules regarding military service requirements, depending on your branch of the military. The college and university you plan to attend will have more information about your education benefits and so will your military branch.

10. Nurse Corps Program

The Nurse Corps Program is a scholarship available to eligible nursing students. In exchange for the scholarships, recipients work in critical shortage areas after graduating with their nursing credentials.

Deciding Which Route to Pursue

When you need help paying for nursing school, which option makes sense for you? Your preferences might offer you the most insight into the best option to pay for school. For example, it might make sense to avoid the military programs offered because you have no interest in joining the military. You may also not have the resources to study overseas or have a family who depends on you for financial support. Your goal may also be to learn how to pay for nursing school without loans.

Whatever your goals, one thing you can do is to meet with the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend. A financial aid professional can lay out all your options and help you choose the right option for you.

Private Student Loans From SoFi

When you’re readying yourself for nursing school, it’s good to have options. SoFi offers low fixed rates and variable interest rates to help you access the right private student loans for you and your future needs.

Our private educational loans are designed to make paying for undergraduate or graduate education easier. These loans for students can cover up to 100% of school-certified costs, which includes tuition and food, books, supplies, room and board, and other education expenses.

Learn more about your private student loan options with SoFi and through our private student loans guide.

FAQ

Can FAFSA be used for nursing school financial aid?

Yes, you can use the FAFSA in order to qualify for financial aid for nursing school. The amount of financial aid you receive depends on your level of need, year in school, dependency status, and other factors. For example, you can access Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans between $5,500 to $12,500 per year in undergraduate. In graduate or professional school, you can borrow up to $20,500 each year in Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

Can an employer pay for you to attend nursing school?

Yes, an employer may pay for you to attend nursing school. Your current employer may help you pay for nursing school. Talk to the human resources office to learn more about tuition assistance, the amount you can receive for attendance, and the details about your employer’s tuition reimbursement regulations.

If you aren’t currently aware of jobs that pay for nursing school, you may want to contact the college or university you plan to attend and learn more about your employment options, including work-study opportunities.

Can you use private student loans for nursing school?

You can access private student loans to pay for nursing school. SoFi can offer private loans that cover nursing school and even living expenses. Learn more about your private student loan options with SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/FatCamera

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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9 Smart Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

9 Smart Ways to Pay Off Student Loans

Let’s talk about student loan payments. Woo-hoo! OK, it’s not the most thrilling topic, but know what is serotonin-boosting? Paying off that very last loan.

How to Pay Off Your Student Loans

It’s the unglamorous work that goes on behind the scenes that make or break every business owner, athlete, or creative person. It is helpful to think about student loan repayment like any other big feat worth accomplishing.

It begins with knowing that paying down student loans in a smart and effective way can take a lot of planning, budgeting, and adapting.

While there is no single smartest way to pay off student loans, because everyone’s situation is different, there are steps that will put most borrowers in a position to pay off their student loans without too much pain and on a timeline.

Another goal could be to create a financial plan that includes your loans.

Strategies to Pay Off Student Loans

Here are nine steps to consider including in your student loan repayment plan.

1. Organizing All Of Your Debt, Including Student Loans

Keeping track of your student loans and other sources of debt can be tricky, especially if you are a recent graduate. Consider listing them. Include the student loan servicer, amount of the loan, monthly payment, interest rate, and when the loan should be paid in full.

If you aren’t sure what your monthly payments will be, you can use this student loan calculator to get a rough idea, or you can call your loan servicer.

If you have credit card debt or personal loans, include them on your debt list. With all of your sources of debt, you can then mark on a calendar the date that the monthly payments are due.

While you always need to make the monthly minimum payments on all debts (unless your student loans are within their grace period or are in forbearance), listing them allows you to identify which debts you may want to pay off first.

If you have high-interest credit cards adding up each month, a credit card consolidation loan may be a great option to look at, too.

Once your credit cards are paid off, you’ll want to think about whether your goal is to pay your loans off quickly, or to simply make the monthly payments until the loans are done. The former is one way to save on interest over time.

Some folks do prefer to pay only the minimum monthly amount on their student loans so that they can save a little for other things.

2. Budgeting to Include Loan Payments

It can take time and effort to develop a monthly budgeting system that works for you, but it is doable, and totally worth it.

To get started, track your monthly cash inflows and outflows for two months. Total how much money you spent in each category, including debt payments like student loans.

Once you have a general idea of what you’re spending in each category, you can begin to build a budget framework. For example, if you spend $300 on groceries one month and $350 the next, you can now set a realistic grocery budget. Leave room for annual and quarterly expenses as well as incidentals.

With a budget that is built to include student loan payments, you’ll be more equipped to make all of your payments on time and know how much is available to spend on other wants and needs. Also, understanding how you’re spending will allow you to identify the areas where you’re overspending.

3. Setting Up Automatic Payments

Hopefully your student loan payments are set up to be automatically deducted from your bank account. If they aren’t, you can contact your student loan servicer to set up autopay. That way you won’t miss a payment because you forgot or are somewhere where you can’t access the internet.

Remember, missed or late payments will negatively affect your credit score. Damaged credit could preclude you from opportunities in the future, such as being able to refinance your loans.

Many loan service providers offer a discount if you arrange to autopay. When you sign up, ask if such a discount is available.

See how student loan refinancing could
be a smart way to help
pay off your student loans.


4. Paying More Than the Minimum Monthly Amount

Paying more than the minimum monthly payment can be a great strategy if your goal is to pay off your loan faster than the stated term. You’ll also save on interest over the life of the loan by paying it off sooner. Even small amounts can make a difference.

To do this, instruct your loan servicer to apply any extra payments to the loan principal, or adjust your automatic monthly payment to a higher amount and clarify that you want that extra money dedicated to the principal.

Make sure, after the next month’s payment, that the money was indeed put toward the loan’s principal.

Recommended: Why Making Minimum Student Loan Payments Isn’t Enough

5. Paying a Lump Sum Toward Student Loans

Increasing your monthly payment isn’t the only way to put a dent in your loans; at any point, you are allowed to make a lump sum payment toward the principal.

You could put your tax refund, holiday or birthday money, work bonuses, or inheritance money toward your student debt.

6. Adjusting Your Repayment Plan If Needed

Most federal student loans come with a 10-year repayment plan unless you choose otherwise.

Income-driven repayment plans base payments on discretionary income and family size. The plans lower monthly payments by extending the length of repayment to 20 or 25 years, after which any remaining loan balance is to be forgiven.

Even though your monthly payments are lower, you will pay more interest over time (longer loan terms mean more interest payments, after all). So it’s not a great choice if you want to pay off your student loans quickly or pay as little interest as possible, but it is available to those who are having trouble making their monthly payments.

If you are planning to use the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for your federal student loans, you will need to select one of the income-driven repayment plans.

7. Considering Refinancing Your Loans

When you refinance one or more student loans, a private lender like a bank, credit union, or online company pays off your current loans and issues one new student loan, ideally at a lower interest rate. A lower rate could mean substantial savings over the life of the loan.

With federal student loan consolidation, on the other hand, the government bundles your federal student loans into one, using a weighted average of the interest rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage point.

It’s important to note that by refinancing your federal student loans to a private student loan, you will not be able to access federal programs like income-driven repayment plans, PSLF, and government deferment or forbearance. If you don’t need any of those benefits, a lower rate gained by refinancing could be worthwhile.

Exploring refinancing with a private lender takes little time and doesn’t cost anything.

8. Knowing Your Worth and Asking for a Raise

With any pay raise, you can use the extra income toward your financial goals. This could mean increasing the monthly amount you pay toward your student loans or making a lump sum payment.

How much money you earn is an important factor contributing to your financial stability and ability to pay down your student debt. While budgeting is important, so is knowing your worth and asking for more when you deserve it.

If you haven’t already, start keeping track of your successes so that at your next compensation conversation, you have concrete examples on why you deserve a salary bump.

9. Understanding Your Employment Benefits Package

Although student loan repayment help is not as widespread as retirement or health care benefits, more employers are offering that perk to attract and retain employees.

Whenever you’re comparing job offers, it’s a good idea to compare benefits packages; although they’re not flashy like a big salary or company equity, benefits can be just as valuable.

If you’re looking for a new job, you could include student loan repayment help in your search. While it obviously shouldn’t be your only consideration, it’s great to have an idea of what you’re looking for in an employer.

Recommended: Finding Jobs That Pay Off Student Loans

Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing is among the ways to pay off student loans, and SoFi is a standout in that field. SoFi refinances federal and private student loans with fixed or variable rates and a range of loan terms.

Take a close look at your student loan balance and the rates you’re paying, and then check your refinance rate in two minutes.

FAQ

What is the smart way to pay off student loans?

To pay off any loan, it’s smart to look at the interest rate and repayment term. If you can manage the monthly payments, a short term and a low rate is a winning combo.

If the payments are too painful and a longer term is needed, it could be smart to make extra payments of any amount whenever you can.

The PSLF program forgives any remaining Direct Loan balance after 10 years of on-time payments and qualifying employment. That could be seen as a smart way to pay off federal student loans if a graduate commits to working for a government or nonprofit employer, but the program has had a 98% applicant denial rate.

How can I pay off $100k in student loans in five years?

Say what? Well, it has been done. It might take sacrifice (moving in with relatives, no eating out, no new car), putting chunks that would normally go to rent toward student loan debt, staying motivated by watching and listening to others’ stories of debt repayment, refinancing one or more times, and getting aggressive about payments.

Most refinance lenders will offer a lower rate for a shorter loan term. Of course, the shorter the term, the higher your monthly payments will be, but the less costly the loan will be. A borrower might find that a variable rate, which usually starts lower than a fixed rate, pays off with a short-term loan.

How do I pay off a five-year loan in two years?

By paying extra toward the principal, in dribs and drabs or in a lump sum, and/or refinancing to a lower rate. Federal law prohibits prepayment penalties for federal or private student loans, so that’s not a worry.

To keep your student loan servicer from applying extra amounts to the next month’s payment, tell your servicer, by phone, mail, or online, to apply any extra payments to the loan principal.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Tips for When to Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans

Tips for When to Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

If you’re like most borrowers, particularly those with six figures’ worth of student loans from graduate or professional school, you might find that looking at your student debt square in the face is a downer, but repayment can be managed.

Is refinancing a good idea? It can be. When? When you can snag a lower interest rate and in a few other situations.

Student Loan Repayment Plans

Chances are you set up a student loan repayment plan after graduation and figured you’d revisit it later — when you’re making more money, when your career is more secure, when you have more time. The standard repayment plan for federal student loans is 10 years. Direct Consolidation Loans have a repayment period of 10 to 30 years.

Putting off the repayment thought is understandable. After receiving your undergraduate or graduate degree, your focus is on other things (like building a career).

But if you let that nebulous “later” turn into “never,” the repercussions can be costly. At some point, refinancing your student loans could potentially save you a significant amount of money. You just need to figure out if it is the right move for you.

When to Finance Your Student Loans

1. Your Current Student Loans Have High Interest Rates

Look at the interest rates you’re paying on your student loans, particularly federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans (graduate or professional), federal grad PLUS loans, and/or private student loans.

Depending on how high your loan balance is and how much you could reduce the interest rates by refinancing one or more loans, your cost savings may be significant.

2. Your Financial Situation Has Improved Since You Took Out the Loans

Maybe you were a starving student when you took out federal or private student loans, but ideally your financial situation has improved with time. This is great news for your bottom line, because a higher credit score and income help a borrower qualify for lower interest rates.

If you expect to stay on an upward financial trajectory, you might even consider refinancing to a variable-rate student loan, which will have a lower starting interest rate than a fixed-rate loan. Variable rates are tied to market fluctuations, though, which means rates that are very low today are likely to go up at some point.

The upshot is that a variable-rate loan could be a good option for a qualified borrower who intends to pay off the loan at a relatively fast pace.

3. You Don’t Plan to Use Certain Federal Student Loan Benefits

Borrowers who go to work in the public sector may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Some federal programs also offer relief for borrowers who experience financial hardships (such as student loan deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and the graduated repayment plan).

If you expect your income to be unpredictable or you’re looking into qualifying public service employment, it probably wouldn’t behoove you to refinance federal student loans. But refinancing could make sense if you don’t plan to tap into any of the federal programs listed above and you can gain a lower rate.

Recommended: Looking for more guidance on your student loans? Explore SoFi’s Student Loan Help Center for tips, resources, guides, and more!

4. You’re Going to Take Out a Large Loan

For loans like mortgage loans, lenders will look at your debt-to-income ratio, among other things. DTI is your monthly debt payments per month, including your future mortgage payments, divided by your gross monthly income. A low DTI generally signals better odds of loan approval and better interest rates.

Decreasing your monthly student loan payment by refinancing, with, say, a long loan term, could lower your DTI.

It might make sense to refinance your student loans at least six months before buying a home or making any other large purchase. That will give you time to recoup the points lost after a hard credit inquiry.

Once the mortgage or other big loan has been secured, you could refinance again, this time picking the lender offering the lowest rate, not just the lowest payment. You can refinance student loans as many times as you wish.

If you think student loan refinancing may be a good option for you, the next step is to check out several refinancing providers to compare interest rates and other features.

Refinance Student Loans With SoFi

You can refinance both federal and private student loans into one new loan with SoFi in an easy, all-online process. You can get your rate in two minutes.

SoFi also offers access to an extensive member network through complementary member experiences like happy hours and dinners.

Which means you could gain more than cost savings when you refinance student loans.

Want to learn more about refinancing your student loans? See your rates in just two minutes.

FAQ

When should I refinance my student loans?

It might make sense to refinance as soon as you have a stable income and good credit that can usher in a lower rate.

Can I refinance student loans after buying a house?

Buying a home creates new debt, and that can make refinancing student loans more difficult. But by waiting several months or even a year to refinance, the dust can settle on the mortgage decision.

Is refinancing my student loans a good idea?

If you’re struggling to repay federal student loans, you might consider an income-driven repayment plan or federal student loan consolidation.

But if you can qualify, your income is stable, and you would save money by refinancing federal or private student loans, that might be a smart move.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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