Working as a nurse can be a fulfilling career with plenty of job opportunities. However, working as a nurse also requires you to meet specific educational and certification requirements, which could mean taking on student loan debt.
Fortunately, the federal government anticipated this issue, and it’s trying to put nurses in places with the most need while helping them get out of debt. If you commit to working in a high-need or shortage area for a certain period of time, you could qualify for forgiveness of your student loan debt.
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program , one of the student loan forgiveness programs for nurses, can be a great help for nurses who find themselves overwhelmed by student loan debt . Read on to learn how the program works, including how much loan forgiveness it offers and how to qualify.
Requirements for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
To be considered for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program, there are some key requirements you have to meet. Checking off as many of the eligibility requirements as possible will give you the best chance of success.
So, what are the requirements? They include:
• Being a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident who is licensed as a registered nurse.
• Working full-time at one of the Critical Shortage Facilities the government recognizes in an underserved area or at a nursing school.
• Graduating with a nursing degree from an accredited nursing school in the U.S. or its territories.
Since the program is so competitive, the government gives preference to nurses with the greatest financial need. For nurse faculty applicants, it gives preference to those who work in a school where at least 50% of the students are from a disadvantaged background.
💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program Service Commitment
Many U.S. residents go without needed treatment because there’s a shortage of healthcare workers where they live. By participating in the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program, you can realize your passion for providing care to people who really need it.
Specifically, you must commit to working in a Critical Shortage Facility full-time for two years. In some cases, nurses can elect to continue for an additional year.
Once your service commitment to the Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program is complete, the program will pay 60% of your unpaid nursing debt. If you can get a one-year extension, the government will pay back 25% of the original loan balance. Keep in mind you’ll have to pay taxes on the amount of the loan repayment you receive.
Are There Other Loan Repayment Options for Nurses?
As a nurse, there are other repayment options worth exploring that could help you manage your student debt. Here are a few options to check out:
• National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a nurse practitioner, you can tap into this program. In exchange for working two-years at an approved site , the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program provides up to $50,000 in loan repayment to full-time workers and up to $25,000 to half-time workers. If you’re selected to continue past the service term, you can get more debt paid off.
• Apply for income-driven repayment. If you’re having trouble keeping up with payments on your federal student loans, consider applying for an income-driven plan like the SAVE Plan. These plans adjust your monthly payments to a percentage of your discretionary income while extending your loan terms. If you still owe a balance at the end of your term, it will be forgiven.
• Consolidate your federal loans. Federal Direct loan consolidation involves combining your federal loans into one new loan with a new interest rate. You can also choose a new repayment plan and may qualify for terms as long as 30 years, depending on your loan amount.
Another Option: Refinancing
With competition so high for loan repayment programs, many applicants won’t be selected. And if you’re not working at a Critical Shortage Facility, you’re not going to qualify. Others may complete their service commitment, but still struggle with student loan debt. But there’s another option to consider that can help you manage student loan debt beyond the Nurse Corps Loan Payment Program or the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.
Refinancing your student loans can make sense for borrowers who are established in their careers and have built up a solid credit rating. Depending on your credit score and other factors, you could qualify for a lower interest rate than you have now.
You also have the option of choosing a fixed-rate loan or a variable-rate loan. If you like the idea of having a set payment amount, month after month, a fixed-rate loan fits the bill. If you can live with flexibility, a variable-rate loan follows the market, which means it could start lower but then rise. Of course, when rates rise, so does your payment amount.
All that said, refinancing federal student loans can have a major downside. If you refinance federal loans with a private lender, you’ll lose eligibility for federal programs, including income-driven repayment and federal loan forgiveness programs. Make sure you’re not relying on any federal benefits before refinancing federal loans, since you can’t reverse the process after it’s done.
Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.
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.
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