Student loans are a large financial burden faced by working families today. And nurses are no exception. As a nurse, you have likely taken out student loans to finance your education. While a great investment in your future, student loans can also be a financial burden. Fortunately, there are student loan repayment and forgiveness programs available to help ease this burden. In this blog post, you will explore some student loan repayment options. You will also learn about trusted resources, including where to find a student loan repayment calculator, to help you stay on track with your financial plan.
Student loan repayment challenges affect every industry, including nursing. Struggling to make your student loan payment on time is stressful. Defaulting on loans can lead to wage garnishment, damage your credit score, and impact future borrowing.
To address these problems, nurses may need to consider loan repayment strategies such as refinancing, consolidation, and loan forgiveness programs. It is also important for nurses to plan and budget carefully to help ensure you can make your loan payments on time and avoid default.
Student Loan Repayment Options for Nurses
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Student loan forgiveness programs are a great choice for nurses to help repay their loans. These programs allow you to have a portion of your loans forgiven in exchange for working in certain locations or with select populations. Popular loan forgiveness programs for nurses include:
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. This program pays up to 85% of unpaid nursing debt. The program is for registered nurses, nurse faculty, and advanced practice nurses who work in select areas. For example, you may qualify if you work in an eligible critical shortage facility or an accredited school of nursing. To qualify, you must work at least 32 hours a week. Check the website for enrollment deadlines.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs. These programs offer loan repayment assistance to healthcare professionals who work in underserved areas. Nurses can choose from several available programs.
Other Student Loan Repayment Options for Nurses
Debt consolidation can be a helpful strategy for nurses who need to repay their student loans more efficiently and manage your debt effectively. Debt consolidation can simplify your student loan repayment by combining all payments into one. Managing one student loan payment can help you avoid missed payments. Debt consolidation can also help lower your monthly payments by extending the repayment term. You may also be able to lock in a fixed interest rate.
Refinancing can be a great choice if you have high-interest rate student loans. When you refinance, you take out a new loan with a lower interest rate and use it to pay off your existing loans. This can save you money over the life of your loans and make your monthly payments more manageable. Some lenders offer refinancing specifically for nurses. But make sure you know the terms before committing to refinancing. You may lose future Federal benefits like forbearance and deferment if you refinance with private lenders.
Income-driven Repayment Plans
Income-driven repayment plans are a great choice for nurses who have a low income compared to their student loan debt. Most federal student loans are eligible for one of four income based repayment plans. With an income-driven repayment plan, your monthly payments are affordable because they are based on your income and family size. The plans cap your monthly payments at a percentage of your income. And the remaining debt is forgiven after a certain period. There are several income-driven repayment plans available, including:
Income-Based Repayment (IBR) limits your monthly payments at 10-15% of your discretionary income. Forgives remaining debt after 20-25 years, depending on when you took your first loan.
Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) limits your monthly payment depending on the lesser of either 20 percent of your discretionary income or your typical fixed payment over 12 years, adjusted per your income. Forgives remaining debt after 25 years.
Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan) limits your monthly payment at 10% of your discretionary income. Forgives remaining debt after 20 years.
Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) limits your monthly payments at 10% of your discretionary income. Forgives remaining undergraduate study debt after 20 years. Forgives remaining debt for graduate or professional studies after 25 years.
Using a Student Loan Repayment Calculator
With so many student loan repayment and forgiveness programs available, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you. A student loan repayment calculator can be helpful. A student loan repayment calculator can help you decide which repayment option is best for you based on your income, loan balance, and other factors. Many lenders offer free calculators. The US Government is a trusted source for a student loan repayment calculator.
In conclusion, student loan repayment can be a challenge for nurses. Luckily there are many choices available to help ease this burden. Exploring loan repayment and forgiveness programs, refinancing, and debt consolidation options may help you find a plan that works for you. Using a student loan repayment calculator can also help you choose a plan. Do your homework to avoid predatory loan scams. Research the company before applying. You may want to check the Google reviews and the Better Business Bureau. Only trust reputable sources, like your student loan servicer. Defaulting on your loans is not an option. Explore student loan repayment programs available to you to stay on budget and on track with your financial plan.
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Georgene Collins, RICP®, RN, PhD, MBA is a registered nurse turned Financial Advisor at Airey Financial Group. Georgene helps other nurses take control of their finances and prepare for retirement. Georgene began her career with Airey Financial Group in 2017 after retiring from 30 years in healthcare.
Georgene holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) designation from The American College of Financial Services. She holds health and life insurance licenses and a long-term care certificate in Indiana and Illinois. Georgene is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative and has earned the FINRA Series 63 and 65 registrations.