3 Ways For RNs to Repay Student Loans
Student loan debt is a topic discussed often by the media and politicians, but no one really understands how frustrating student loans can be more than those suffering from the debt incurred. This applies to nursing students, as well as medical students.
The NSNA New Graduate Annual Survey found that undergraduate nursing students graduate with $30,000 in student loan debt, and naturally that number increases with the level of education. Using a portion of your paycheck to help pay your monthly payments is of course an effective way to manage your debt, but there are several other options to consider that aim to keep more money in your pocket.
Employer Loan Assistance
Go into work doing something you love, and walk out with a little less student loan debt. This is method is not necessarily that easy, but there are employers that will pay a portion of your student loan debt in exchange for agreeing to certain employment terms. This can range from working with the company for a certain amount of years, or undergoing a probationary period before payments begin. Healthcare facilities in rural areas are more likely to offer these types of programs due to vacancies outnumbering the amount of applicants, but sometimes simply browsing your favorite job search engine will find open positions. Finding an employer that offers this incentive can be ideal, but always make sure to thoroughly review these employment contracts before signing on the dotted line.
State-Funded Repayment Initiatives
Just as employers in rural areas are trying to expand their employment opportunities, so are states that have a large number of underserved areas. For example, the Oregon Medicaid Primary Care Loan Repayment Program will give a tax-free award of up to 20% of the loan balance for nurse practitioners that provide care to Medicaid patients. Of course each state program comes with its own commitments, but tools such as the Rural Health Information Hub offer detailed information about state openings and requirements. If you have an idea of what state you would like to work in but are concerned about limited job availability in major cities, looking into lesser known areas may help narrow your search.
Federal Assistance Programs
Federal assistance has a reputation for being the most difficult to qualify for, but it is still a viable option. Whereas employer based programs do not usually take into consideration financial need or an abundance of applicants, federally backed programs do. NHSC Loan Repayment Program will pay up to $50,000 of student loan debt with a two-year commitment, and is one of the few tax-free programs available. The NURSE Corps repayment program will pay 60% of your student loan balance, however federal taxes are deducted from the award. Federal programs are generally more competitive than other types of programs and are in high demand. Most only accept applications one time a year, so making sure to find out deadlines well ahead of time is necessary.