4 Student Loans for Nursing School to Help Pay for Your Degree

Updated on February 1, 2024

At a Glance

  • Federal student loans, like subsidized and unsubsidized, offer low interest rates and flexible repayment for nursing school.
  • Federal PLUS loans provide flexible funding for graduate nursing degrees.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loans are low-interest options for healthcare degrees, particularly benefiting underserved areas.
  • Private student loans are a last resort, with varying terms and may lack federal benefits.

Financing your nursing education is an important step toward becoming a nurse. Investigating the many possibilities available to you to follow your ideal career without undue financial burden is critical. This post will review four different forms of student loans for nursing school that can help you pay for your education. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, so it’s critical to understand your options and make an informed selection.

There are 4 common options for loans for nursing school:

  1. Federal student loans
  2. Federal PLUS loans
  3. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loans
  4. Private student loans

Whether you choose federal student loans, Federal PLUS loans, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loans, or private student loans, this guide will help you navigate the world of nursing school funding. Furthermore, we’ll discuss options for reducing your reliance on student loans, guaranteeing a more financially sustainable path through your nursing school. Let’s go into the specifics and examine your possibilities for funding your nursing degree.

Types of Federal Student Loans for Nursing School

Federal student loans should be your go-to option for financing your nursing education. These loans, offered by the government, have low interest rates and provide flexible repayment plans. There are two main kinds of federal student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized Student Loan

If you qualify for the subsidized loan, interest does not accrue while you are in school, and the repayment begins after you graduate. This means you won’t have to worry about accumulating interest during your studies, allowing you to focus on your nursing courses and clinical rotations without the added financial burden. Subsidized loans also don’t accrue interest at least half-time or during deferment periods.

Unsubsidized Student Loan

On the other hand, with an unsubsidized loan, the interest starts accumulating as soon as you receive the funds. However, don’t let this discourage you. While the interest may begin to accrue, you can defer the interest payments until after you graduate. This allows you to focus on your nursing education without the immediate pressure of making payments. The payments will be higher after you graduate.

Interest Rates (for loans disbursed from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023)

  • Undergraduate Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: 4.99%
  • Graduate Direct Unsubsidized Loans: 6.54%

Loan Terms

  • Repayment terms can range from 10 to 25 years, depending on the repayment plan chosen.

What are the differences between Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans?

The differences between these 2 types of loans depend on the following:

Eligibility

Both undergraduate students and graduate students can apply for Subsidized loans but only undergraduate students who have a financial need can qualify for Subsidized loans.

Loan Amounts

Undergraduate students can get up to $57,500 in loans but only $23,000 of it can be Subsidized loans while graduate or professional students can apply for $138,500 in loans of which $65,500 can be Subsidized loans.

Terms

The rates for undergraduate students are lower compared to rates for graduate students.

To apply for Federal student loans while in school, you have to apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Smart Financing for Aspiring Nurses: Paying Interest While in School

If you are concerned about the growing balance on your student loan when you graduate, there is a proactive solution to consider -paying the interest while you are still in school. This responsible approach can ultimately save you money in the long term and reduce the overall cost of your loan. However, assessing your financial circumstances carefully and determining whether managing interest payments during your academic journey suits you is important.

Remember, these loans are tailored for students and come with student-friendly terms. The repayment plans are manageable, considering that you may still be establishing your nursing career. The government understands the importance of investing in education and wants to support aspiring nurses in pursuing a degree.

Federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans should be on your radar if you’re looking for a reliable option to finance your nursing degree. These loans provide the financial assistance you need to pursue your nursing education without the added stress of high-interest rates or inflexible repayment plans. Take advantage of these student-friendly loans and focus on what matters most – becoming a skilled and compassionate nurse.

Federal PLUS Loans for Nursing School

Are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level? If so, you may wonder how to finance your graduate or professional degree. Look no further than the Federal PLUS Loan, a financial aid option specifically designed for students like you pursuing their nursing degrees.

With a fixed interest rate and the ability to borrow funds up to the cost of attendance, the Federal PLUS Loan offers a flexible and reliable funding source. This loan covers you whether you need help with tuition, books, or living expenses.

Interest Rates (for loans disbursed from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023)

  • Direct PLUS Loans (for both parents and graduate/professional students): 7.54%

Loan Terms

  • Repayment typically starts immediately after the loan is fully disbursed, but deferment options are available. The standard repayment term is 10 years, with extended repayment options up to 25 years.

Key features of the Federal PLUS loan for nursing school

  1. Tailored for Nursing Students: The Federal PLUS loan is particularly designed to provide the financial needs of nursing students pursuing graduate or professional degrees in the field.
  2. Fixed Interest Rate: This loan provides a stable fixed interest rate, offering predictability and protection from changes in the financial market.
  3. Borrowing Flexibility: Students can borrow funds up to the complete cost of attendance, ensuring that all aspects of their education, including tuition, books, and living expenses, are covered.
  4. No Borrowing Limits: Unlike other loan options, the Federal PLUS does not impose strict borrowing limits, allowing students to access the financial resources they need without limitations.
  5. Credit Check Requirement: A credit check is required to secure approval for the Federal PLUS Loan. This step ensures that students receive vital financial support for their nursing career pursuits.
  6. Financial Support: The loan acts as an economic lifeline, supporting students as they work toward achieving their financial aid beyond the limits of other loans.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Loans

A lesser-known but equally valuable resource for nursing school financing is the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loan. The HRSA student loan provides low-interest loans to students pursuing degrees in healthcare fields, including nursing.

These loans aim to encourage individuals to pursue careers in underserved areas or disciplines facing a shortage of healthcare professionals. If you’re passionate about making a difference in communities that need it most, the HRSA loan might be the perfect fit for you.

So, as you step closer to realizing your dream of becoming a nurse, remember that HRSA loan stands ready to support your journey, ensuring that you are equipped to bring your passion and skills to communities in need.

Interest Rates

  • Loans through HRSA programs often have fixed interest rates that are lower than federal student loans. For example, Loans for Disadvantaged Students (LDS) and Nursing Student Loans (NSL) typically have an interest rate of 5%.

Loan Terms

  • Repayment for HRSA loans often starts after a grace period, which can be up to 12 months after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment. Repayment periods can vary but can extend up to 10 years.

Private Student Loans for Nursing School

If you’ve exhausted your government alternatives and still require further financial support, private student loans can help. Private loans are accessible through banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions at competitive interest rates based on your creditworthiness.

However, doing your homework and evaluating several lenders is critical to discover your case’s best terms and prices. Furthermore, private loans frequently need more benefits than federal loans, such as income-driven repayment programs or loan forgiveness opportunities.

So, while private student loans can provide that extra push, proceed cautiously and select a lender that best meets your needs.

Interest Rates

  • Private student loans can have variable or fixed rates, which can range from around 1% to more than 12%, depending on the lender, borrower’s creditworthiness, and market conditions.

Loan Terms

  • The terms for private student loans vary widely by lender and can range from 5 to 20 years. Repayment options may include immediate repayment, interest-only payments while in school, full deferral until after graduation, and more.

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Other Loans to Consider

While federal student loans, federal PLUS loans, HRSA loans, and private student loans are the most commonly discussed options for financing nursing education, several other avenues exist that prospective nursing students may consider. These alternatives can help fill the financial gaps or serve as primary sources of funding. Let’s explore some of these options:

State-Sponsored Loan Programs

Many states offer loan programs specifically designed for students pursuing healthcare-related fields, including nursing. These loans can come with favorable terms, such as low-interest rates and deferred payments. Some may even offer loan forgiveness for graduates who work in underserved areas within the state after completing their education.

Institutional Loans

Some nursing schools and universities offer their own loan programs to students. These institutional loans can have competitive rates and may offer unique benefits such as flexible repayment plans or forgiveness options for graduates who go on to work in certain positions or geographic areas.

Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Loan forgiveness programs are designed to encourage students to enter the nursing field and work in areas with high need. After a set period of employment, often in a critical shortage facility or underserved area, a portion of the loan may be forgiven or repaid by the program.

Military and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

For students who are either in the military or considering a public service career post-graduation, there are loan forgiveness programs available. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), for example, forgives the remaining balance on direct loans after the borrower has made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

Loans from Professional Associations

Some nursing associations and organizations offer loan programs or financial assistance to students pursuing nursing degrees. These loans may come with the requirement of membership or a commitment to serve in a specific capacity within the nursing profession after graduation.

Home Equity Loans

For students who have equity in their homes, taking out a home equity loan to fund nursing education can be a consideration. While this comes with the risk of using one’s home as collateral, the interest rates may be lower than traditional student loans.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Online platforms that facilitate borrowing from individuals rather than institutions can also be an option for funding nursing education. These peer-to-peer lending sites may offer loans with different terms and requirements than traditional student loans.

Income Share Agreements (ISAs)

Some educational institutions are now offering ISAs as a way to finance education. Instead of taking out a traditional loan, students agree to pay a percentage of their future income for a set period of time after graduation. This can be an attractive option for those who expect to have a steady income after completing their nursing program.

Best Private Student Loans for Nursing School

Exploring the right private student loans can be a game-changer when financing your nursing education. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the top lenders and their key loan features to help you make an informed decision:

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is a well-established private student loan lender that offers competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options tailored to nursing students. With a range of loan products, Sallie Mae allows borrowers to customize their loans to cover the unique expenses associated with nursing school, making it a trusted choice for healthcare education financing.

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.50-15.49%

Variable APR

6.37-16.70%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600’s.
  • Fixed APR: 4.50-15.49%
  • Variable APR: 6.37-16.70%
  • Loan amounts: Minimum of $1,000 per year.
  • Repayment: 10 to 15 years.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

Cons

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

College Ave

College Ave stands out for its user-friendly application process and transparent terms, making it an excellent option for nursing students seeking simplicity in their loan application. Competitive interest rates and customizable repayment plans make College Ave a convenient choice for those pursuing a nursing education.

College Ave Private Undergraduate Student Loan

4.8
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600 or better

Fixed APR

5.05% - 16.99%

Variable APR

5.59% - 16.99%

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600 or better.
  • Fixed APR: 5.05% – 16.99%.
  • Loan amounts: 5.59% – 16.99%.
  • Repayment: 5, 8, 10, 15, and 20 years.

Qualifications

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • For undergraduate loans: Part-time enrollment at an accredited college/university.
  • International students: Need a Social Security number and a co-signer.
  • For refinance loans: Must be 18 years or older.
  • For refinance loans: Graduation from an eligible school is required.

Pros

  • Prequalify with a soft credit check
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Offers co-signer release for private loans

Cons

  • Charges late fees
  • Must have graduated to be eligible to refinance
  • Half of repayment term must have passed to release co-signer

Upgrade

While not specifically a student loan lender, Upgrade is a newer lender known for its online prequalification process and fast funding, which can be advantageous for nursing students looking for quick access to financial support. With competitive rates and financial wellness tools, Upgrade caters to the needs of nursing students seeking efficient and cost-effective financing options.

Upgrade Personal Loan

5.0
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

560

Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)

Qualifications

  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.

Pros

  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.

Cons

  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

Reduce Your Need for Nursing School Student Loans

While student loans are undoubtedly helpful, exploring other avenues to reduce the debt burden is always smart. By implementing the below strategies, you can overcome your reliance on student loans and work towards a more financially sustainable path through nursing school. 

Here are some strategies you can implement to lighten the load:

  • Seeking nursing-specific scholarships and grants: Apply for scholarships and grants specific to nursing students. There are numerous opportunities out there waiting for the perfect candidates – you!
  • Part-time employment: Consider working part-time while attending nursing school. This can help cover some of your living expenses and reduce the amount you need to borrow.
  • Budget wisely: Make and stick to a budget. You can save money and lessen your loan amount by being mindful of your spending habits.
  • Tuition reimbursement programs: Explore tuition reimbursement programs offered by hospitals or healthcare organizations. These programs often require a commitment to work with the organization after graduation but can be financially rewarding.

Final Thoughts

It would be best to explore all your financial options as soon as you begin your road toward becoming a nurse. All types of student loans, including federal loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized), PLUS loans, HRSA loans, and private student loans, can assist you in achieving your objective of becoming a nurse. 

Always try to reduce the money you will require from student loans by carefully considering what you need and how much money you have available. You’ll get a long way toward becoming the outstanding nurse you’ve always dreamed of being if you can get some financial assistance, put in a lot of effort, and stay motivated.

And, if down the road, you need some assistance paying down your nursing school debt, check out this list of 19 types of grants to see which you qualify for!

Nursing School Loan FAQ

What types of loans are available for nursing students?

Nursing students have access to various loan types including federal student loans (such as Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans), federal PLUS loans, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) loans, private student loans, state-sponsored loan programs, and loans from some nursing schools themselves. Additionally, there are loan forgiveness programs for those who work in underserved areas after graduation.

Are there loan forgiveness programs specifically for nurses?

Yes, there are loan forgiveness programs specifically designed for nurses. These programs, such as the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, may pay a portion of your nursing school loan if you work for a certain number of years in a critical shortage facility or in an underserved community.

Can I defer payment on my nursing school loans while I’m in school?

Federal student loans typically offer in-school deferment as long as you are enrolled at least half-time. Many private loan lenders also offer deferment options, but the terms can vary, so it’s important to check with your lender.

What is the difference between a subsidized and an unsubsidized student loan?

A subsidized loan is one where the government pays the interest while you are in school or during other periods of deferment. An unsubsidized loan is one where the interest accrues from the time the loan is disbursed, and you are responsible for paying all the interest.

How much can I borrow for nursing school?

The amount you can borrow will depend on the type of loan, your cost of attendance, and your school. Federal loans have annual and aggregate limits, while private loan limits can vary by lender but typically cover the remainder of your college costs that are not covered by other financial aid.

What should I consider before taking out a private student loan for nursing school?

Before taking out a private student loan, consider the interest rates, repayment terms, and borrower protections. Private loans are typically more expensive and offer fewer repayment options and protections compared to federal loans. It’s also wise to exhaust all federal aid options first.

How do I apply for federal nursing school loans?

To apply for federal nursing school loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will determine your eligibility for federal loans and other financial aid.

Are there any credit requirements for federal nursing school loans?

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans do not require a credit check, so these are often the best choice for students with limited or poor credit. However, Federal PLUS loans do require a credit check, and borrowers with an adverse credit history may need an endorser to qualify.

Can I consolidate my nursing school loans after graduation?

Yes, you can consolidate federal student loans through the Direct Loan Consolidation program after graduation. This can simplify your payments by combining multiple loans into one. For private loans, consolidation and refinancing options are available through various private lenders.

How do interest rates on nursing school loans compare to other types of loans?

Interest rates on federal student loans are typically lower than private student loans and are fixed for the life of the loan. Private student loans can have either fixed or variable rates, which may be higher based on creditworthiness and market conditions.

Before taking out any loans for nursing school, it’s recommended to explore all possible grants, scholarships, and work-study options, as these do not need to be repaid. Always consult with a financial aid advisor to understand the full scope of your options and obligations.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.