Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Programs - All you need to know in 2020 - 2021

Here you can find out detailed information about student loan forgiveness programs provided at national and state levels. You can also get to know the forgiveness programs available with the Military.

Updated by Chinmoy Dutta on 19th October 2020

Nursing can be seen as one such career option which demands responsibility and provides tremendous growth. Being a nurse, one can serve the community and also receive good pay, several work benefits, and job security. The Federal Government provides various nursing student loans to pay for student's nursing school fees. It should be noted that are a number of jobs available to help get your loans forgiven. Having an in-depth understanding of the various student loan forgiveness jobs out there is crucial to see if your job can get your loans forgiven.

Student Loan forgiveness programs come to the aid of students who envision nursing as their career. As much as 70% of the students took federal loans to finance their nursing education and the median amount of debt is anticipated to be $40,000 to $55,000. Loan forgiveness programs are provided by the Federal Government in which you are no longer required to make payments for your loan anymore. It is provided as a benefit for federal student loans. 

Due to the high demand of nurses, both Federal and State governments provide loan forgiveness programs. This attracts students to pursue a career in nursing without having to worry about loans as much.

Table of Contents

National-level Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

When the student loan repayment phase begins, it is important for the borrower to go through all the repayment options available to them. Upon completing a specified number of payments, the Federal Government provides several options for Loan Forgiveness for nurses. They are reviewed in this section.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)

Working in a public sector, you may be able to get your Federal Student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Employees who worked full-time and made 120 monthly payments (not required to be consecutive) are eligible for forgiveness through PSLF.

Payments made after October 2007 only can qualify for this program. Federal direct loans in good standing are eligible for forgiveness. Repayment plans such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) qualify for PSLF. 

However, due to the specificity of the program’s requirements, it’s difficult to have loans forgiven through PSLF. Less than 1% of applicants receive forgiveness.

National Health Service Corps

National Health Service Corps Repayment program helps nurses who work in facilities located in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas across the country to apply for forgiveness. The program offers up to $50,000 in student loan repayment.

According to the program, priority consideration is given to eligible applicants whose approved worksite has an HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) score of 26 to 14, in descending order. Simply speaking, student loan forgiveness goes to those who work in the highest-need facilities first.

This program is ideal for those who are flexible with their work location and have student loan repayment up to $50,000.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program is applicable for nurses who work in underserved communities at critical shortage facilities (CSFs). It aims to help nurses, advanced practice nurses and nurse faculty by paying off up to 85% of their student loan debt in exchange for a 2 to 3-year commitment.

This program is made available to nurses in three mentioned professions who graduated from authorized nursing school and worked full time in either an eligible critical shortage facility or an accredited school of nursing. Nurses who are willing to commit to working in a critical shortage position for at least two years make ideal candidates for this program. Applications are accepted only once a year

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge

Nurses working full-time can receive 100% forgiveness if they received a Perkins Loan while in school. In this loan program, both the principal debt and interest debt are canceled.

However, only nurses working full-time and providing direct care to patients are eligible. Other roles are subject to investigation by the school or state department of education.

Under this program, loans are forgiven incrementally for 5 years. One can apply for this through their loan servicer or the school that disbursed the loan.

Income-driven Repayment Forgiveness Program

This is also a forgiveness program under National Programs. Nurses who cannot afford their payments can apply for this. Under this program, the payment term is extended up to 20-25 years and they are capped at a percentage of discretionary income.

After making payments for the term of 20-25 years, the outstanding loan balance is forgiven. However, the forgiven amount is taxable under income tax.


Worried about your College Tuition? Find the best student loans for you.


Military Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

U.S. Military offers several student loan forgiveness programs for nurses. Military repayment options are only available to those who have not yet served in the military. In all military repayment programs, payments are made over outstanding principal balance. They do not cover accrued interest.

Unlike Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), loan repayment does not count as taxable income and is reported annually. The payments are directly made to the lender and taxes are withheld for IRS before payments are made.

Army active duty health professions loan repayment program

Nurses who enlist in active duty for at least three years, 33.3 % of their loan principal balance is paid for by the Army. Applicants must score 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery to qualify for loan repayment.

Under this program, nurses may receive up to $120,000 to repay their nursing education loans. This sum is given in three years with up to $40,000 received annually.

Only federal loans qualify for loan repayment through the army

Army reserves healthcare professionals loan repayment program

Nurses serving in Army Reserves might be eligible for up to $50,000 to repay nursing school loan debt. A sum of up to $20,000 for two consecutive years of service and an extra $10,000 for a third year.

Army reserves college loan repayment program

Nurses serving in the Army Reserves can receive up to $50,000 to repay college loans. To be eligible, you must enlist in the Army Reserves for 6 years.

Navy nurse candidate program (NCP)

Nursing students opting to serve full-time in the Navy could get up to $34,000 to help pay for nursing school through the Nurse Candidate Program (NCP). Accepted candidates are provided with an initial $10,000 grant and a $1,000 monthly stipend for up to 24 months.

Air force active duty health professions repayment program (ADHPLRP)

Air Forces’ ADHPLRP participants receive repayment of loans used to finance health-profession education. Repayment consists of loan amounts for principal, interest and reasonable educational and living expenses.

The maximum repayment is $40,000 with minimum 2-year active duty obligation to receive any loan repayment


State-level Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

Individual states also offer student loan forgiveness programs that help nurses in erasing their student debts. The terms and conditions vary from state to state. If someone does not qualify for the national loan forgiveness program, they might still be eligible for a state program.

States offer to help repay some or all of the student loans to recruit and retain top talent to work in underserved areas. Available programs are enlisted below.

Alaska

Alaska’s SHARP program is used to recruit healthcare professionals to work in specific shortage areas in exchange for loan assistance. Nurses can opt for loan repayment under the Tier 2 program. They can receive up to $27,000 per year in loan assistance. Eligible sites are designated service shortage areas.

Through Alaska’s SHARP (Support-for-Service to Healthcare Practitioners) Program, nurses may receive up to $27,000 per year in loan assistance in exchange for a work commitment in an eligible critical shortage area.

Arizona

Arizona Loan Repayment Program allows qualified health care professionals working in Health Professional Shortage Areas receive loan assistance to help pay off their student loan debt.

Nurse practitioners must commit to working at a qualified site for at least two years. Nurses can receive up to $50,000 in repayment assistance for the first two years.

California

Nurses working in a Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area can receive up to $10,000 are eligible for California State Loan Repayment Program. They must commit to working for one year at a qualifying organization and can be awarded up to three times.

Registered nurses in California holding a bachelor’s degree can qualify for this program if they have outstanding student loan debt and agree to serve in a medical shortage area.

Colorado

Nurse practitioners can avail of forgiveness through the Colorado Health Service Corps program. Practitioners who work in a Health Professional Shortage Area may be eligible for loan assistance.

This program offers assistance for nurses on both a full-time and part-time basis provided they work for three years. Full-time nurses receive up to $50,000 while half- time nurses are eligible for up to $25,000

Florida

The Florida legislature created the Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program in 1989 to encourage nurses to work in Health Professional Shortage Areas in exchange for loan repayment assistance. The program offers up to $4,000 per year for a maximum of four years to nurses who work full time at qualifying organizations.

To participate, nurses must be licensed in the state of Florida as an LPN, RN or ARNP and have student loans from a nursing education program.

Hawaii

Nurses in Hawaii working in Health Professional Shortage Areas may be able to receive loan assistance through the Hawaii State Loan Repayment Program.

Applicants must work full-time for two years or half-time for four years at a qualifying organization. Award amounts vary based on grants available.

Idaho

According to the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program, nurses working in Health Professional Shortage Areas may be eligible for awards from $10,000 to $25,000 each year for two years.

Various health care professionals working in non-profit or public organizations can benefit from the program. They can qualify for $2,500 - $25,000 per year in loan forgiveness for working in a critical shortage area designated by the state.

Illinois

Licensed nurses in Illinois who commit to working in veterans’ homes may be eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $5,000 per year for four years.

To be eligible for the Veterans’ Home Nurse Loan Repayment Program, nurses must be Illinois residents, meet licensing requirements from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and have their employment verified in good standing by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Iowa

The Iowa Registered Nurse and Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program awards either $6,000 or 20% of the recipient’s student loan balance (whichever is less) to qualifying nurses employed in Iowa.

Nurse educators are also eligible for this program if they are currently teaching at an eligible college or university.

Full-time employment is required and the applicant must be in good standing with their federal student loans. Candidates may qualify for forgiveness for no more than five straight years.

Kansas

According to the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program, nurses can receive up to $20,000 repayment assistance by committing to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years. The program open to other healthcare professionals too.

Certified nurses may qualify for up to $20,000 per year for two years and $5,000 - $15,000 per year for the next three consecutive years. Full-time work in a designated healthcare shortage facility is required for each year of forgiveness.

Kentucky

The Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program is unique. It offers loan repayment as a 50-50 match. In other words, for every dollar provided by the program, there must be a match of the same amount by a sponsor, such as an employer, foundation or friend.

Nurse practitioners can take advantage of this program if they work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years. They receive repayment assistance between $20,000 and $40,000 as per their designation.

Louisiana

The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program encourages healthcare professionals to serve in rural communities in exchange for loan assistance.

Nurses working full time at a designated Health Professional Shortage Area or a nonprofit organization may be able to receive up to $15,000 each year with a three-year commitment. Nurses must be licensed in Louisiana and have a good standing with their student loans.

Maryland

Through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program, Maryland residents working as nurses at qualified organizations may be eligible for loan assistance.

Eligible candidates must have a nursing degree or diploma, be employed and have earned a degree in Maryland. The gross salary must not be more than $60,000. Forgiveness amount depends on how much student loan debt is owed and can range from $1,500 to $10,000 per year over three years.

Michigan

The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program offers loan assistance for nurse practitioners working in underserved communities. Nurses working full time and committing to working at least two years in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area may receive up to $200,000 to pay back their student loans for up to eight years. The amount provided to candidates is tax-free.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Nurse Loan Forgiveness Program offers repayment assistance to licensed nurses who work with people with developmental disabilities. The program requires a commitment of at least two years, which can be extended for another two years in nursing homes.

Eligible candidates receive $5,000 each year, with a maximum award of $20,000 over four years.

Montana

The Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program offers loan assistance for registered nurses working full time at a Montana state hospital or state prison. Eligible candidates’ current loan balance must be at least $1,000.

The amount depends on the number of candidates, as well as available state funding. Participants can apply for repayment assistance for up to four years.

Nebraska

The Nebraska Loan Repayment Program is a group of matching-fund programs to recruit healthcare professionals in Nebraska.

Nurse practitioners eligible for this program must commit to working for two to four years in a designated shortage area. The contract period is three years for one program and two years, with the possibility of a two-year contract extension, for the other. Eligible candidates can receive up to $15,000 each year.

A committee reviews the program(s) the applicant qualifies for. If qualified for both, they will likely recommend one to sign up for, but the final choice is with the applicant.

New Hampshire

According to the New Hampshire State Loan Repayment Program, Nurses who work in underserved areas may be eligible for awards up to $45,000. Eligible candidates should work full-time for at least 36 months. Interested candidates can extend the program for another two years and receive an additional amount of $20,000.

New York

The New York State Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program was initiated to attract adjunct clinical faculty and nursing faculty members to teach in New York state. Registered nurses with graduate degrees who have worked as educators in the field of nursing are offered a total sum of $40,000. Candidates receive $8,000 per year for five years under this program.

Ohio

Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program provides Ohio nursing students who plan on working as instructors for loan assistance. This program offers a loan of up to $1,620 and nurses can get up to 100% of the loan canceled after working as a full-time nurse in Ohio for five years.

Oregon

Through the Oregon Partnership State Loan Repayment (SLRP) program, a variety of health care providers, including nurse practitioners and registered nurses, are eligible for repayment assistance by working in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

A two-year service requirement for full-time providers and a four-year service commitment for those employed part-time is required. Candidates may be eligible for two one-year extensions after their initial commitment. Awards are equivalent to a percentage of the candidate’s loan balance.

Pennsylvania

Eligible and registered candidates are offered loan assistance by the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. They can receive up to $60,000 for full-time, $30,000 for half-time workers and the required service commitment is for two years. 

Rhode Island

As per the Rhode Island Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, people can qualify for loan assistance if they are :

  • Nurse Practitioners

  • Nurse-midwives

  • Psychiatric nurse specialists 

  • Registered nurses in Health Professional Shortage Areas

The amounts allocated shall vary. A  two-year commitment is required for full-time work and a four-year commitment for part-time work is required from the recipients. Additionally, nurse educators can be eligible for the Nurse Educator’s Loan Forgiveness Program.

Tennessee

Tennessee has a Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program which encourages its nurses to become educators. For eligibility, the candidate must be a resident, have a nursing license and must be enrolled in a higher education nursing program.

Candidates must work full-time for 4 years to obtain loan forgiveness.

Texas

Health care providers, who are not physicians are offered reimbursements by the Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program. Eligible candidates must commit to working at least for 12 months and can receive awards up to $10,000. To understand in-depth, the forgiveness programs in Texas, a detailed analysis can be found for the forgiveness and repayment program for the state of Texas.

Vermont

A maximum annual award of $6000 is offered by Vermont’s Educational Loan Repayment Program. The service commitment is usually 12 months in an underserved area designated by the program. To qualify for the program, nurses must agree to work a minimum of 45 weeks each year, with 20 hours per week dedicated to clinical hours.

Virginia

The Virginia State Loan Repayment Program grants practicing nurses, who have obtained a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree in nursing, up to $100,000 total towards their outstanding student loan balances.

Conditions:                                                                                                                                                     

  •  Candidates must commit to two years of service (you can receive an extra $40,000 by extending up to a third or fourth year).                                                                                                              

  •  Applicants must work for 40 hours per week on the field for a minimum of 45 weeks per year. 

West Virginia

West Virginia’s loan repayment program offers student loan forgiveness for two years of full-time practice in underserved rural areas (qualified sites should be in designated health professional storage area). Eligible candidates can receive up to $40,00 for a two-year commitment and may receive another $25,000 if the contract is extended for an extra two years. 

Wisconsin

Nurses in Wisconsin can receive up to $50,000 in loan assistance through the Health Professionals Loan Assistance Program. To qualify candidates must commit to working at least three years in a qualified underserved or urban community

Wyoming

Loan assistance is offered for nurses who work full time in qualifying Health professional shortage areas. Eligible candidates must commit to working at least two years in exchange for an award up to $20,000.


Concluding Thoughts

Loan forgiveness for nursing students is available through National, State or via Military programs. However, they are subjected to change from year to year based on funding available with the government.

Before opting for a program, one should familiarise themselves with eligibility requirements and application deadlines. Some programs might consider the forgiven loan amounts as taxable income so it is advised to read the terms and conditions clearly before applying.

Unfortunately, not all applications submitted are approved for loan forgiveness. In the scenario where loan forgiveness is not approved, the student loan refinancing options should be considered. A refinanced loan comes with new repayment terms, including the interest rate and monthly payment which might be better than current terms.