Nursing Student Loans and Financial Aid Guide

Learn financial first aid for nursing school and get nursing scholarship, grant and student loan information.

medical professionals smiling symbolizing nursing student loans and financial aid

Nursing school is expensive, but there are many grants, loans, scholarships, work-study and loan forgiveness programs available to hard-working students—you just need to know where to find them.

Grants

Nursing grants are a smart way to finance your education because it's "free" money—you don't have to pay back a grant. With over a thousand federal grant programs in the U.S. worth more than $400 billion, securing a student grant can help you save hundreds or even thousands of nursing school dollars. Sure, it takes time and energy to apply for a grant, but the payoff is well worth the effort. Often, schools automatically consider you for grants when you complete a FAFSA and apply to school.

For more information, visit these financial aid resources:

Scholarships

Nursing scholarships can be very competitive, but they do not need to be paid back and are an excellent way to help finance your education. Some nursing scholarships may have restrictions, such as applying to a specific course of study or active involvement in an organization or group.

For nursing students, the professional associations for your specialty may give scholarships to qualified individuals. For example, the Oncology Nursing Society offers scholarships to students pursuing a master's, doctorate or post-master’s certificate. Some of the best scholarship resources may include the following:

  • Religious organizations
  • Private and public schools
  • Small businesses
  • Large corporations
  • Community groups
  • Generous individuals
  • Philanthropic foundations.

For more information, visit these nursing scholarship resources:

Work Study Programs

Work-study programs help students finance their education by working in on-campus jobs, community-related jobs or assisting teachers. Work-study awards typically depend on factors such as level of financial need and school funding availability. Often students choose work study programs that are related to their field of study which, not only helps them finance their education, but also gives them resume experience.

Work-study pays at least the federal minimum wage, and often more, depending on the skills and level of experience needed. You can indicate whether you want to be considered for work-study assistance when completing your FAFSA form.

For more information, visit this work-study resource:

Student Loans

While no one likes to take out a loan, college loans are an investment in your future. The investment you make now will pay big dividends later in higher income, better career opportunities and job satisfaction.

College loans have lower interest because the federal government regulates the maximum interest that lenders can charge on federally guaranteed student loans. This helps make the loans easier to pay-back, which encourages more people to attend school. In addition, loan repayment does not begin until six months after graduation (or when enrollment in school is less than half time).

There is also assistance for borrowers having difficulty repaying their education loans, including deferment and forbearance. These options give borrowers more interest-free time on their loans.

Stafford Loan

There are different types of loans, including a Stafford Loan, the most common federal student loan available. The Stafford Loan includes the following loan programs: 

Both programs are dispersed directly to students, and can be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on the student's financial situation. Loan amounts are also need-based, and will be distributed accordingly.

Private Loan

Another type of student loan, is a private loan. These loans offer higher limits and no payments until graduation, but interest starts to accrue immediately after the loan is distributed. Private student loans can be made out to either students or parents.

You do need to complete federal forms, such as the FAFSA to get private loans. Eligibility often depends on you or your parents' credit score, and your chances of being approved for a private loan are better if your credit score is above 650. Interest rates and fees are based on your credit score, so it is often better to apply with a cosigner to achieve a lower rate.

PLUS Loan and Graduate PLUS Loan

PLUS loans are through FFEL and Direct Loan programs, but they are geared toward parents. In order to qualify for this type of loan, you must be a dependent student enrolled at least half time in your undergraduate education, and your parent has to apply for the loan.

This loan also requires a good credit score, and there is a yearly limit. This limit is equal to your school costs minus other financial assistance you receive. In addition to the loan limit, the first payment is due 60 days after the loan is distributed with a small fee that your parents are required to pay (which is usually less than four percent of the loan).

Graduate and professional degree students are now eligible to borrow under the PLUS Loan program, under the same terms and conditions. This program is referred to as the Graduate PLUS Loan program. 

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Loan forgiveness programs, also referred to as loan repayment programs, help students pay back their nursing college loans as they work in a nursing setting. These programs are an ideal type of financial aid, because you can gain valuable nursing experience in a hospital setting, get paid for your work and get reimbursed for your nursing school education.

The loan forgiveness program is funded by government agencies to help areas in the country that are desperate for nurses. So, in exchange for nursing services, the program offers to pay back or forgive student loan debt—usually at least one year of student loans is forgiven for each year the nurse serves in the area of need. This is a great way for you to get out of financial debt while gaining valuable nursing experience.

For more information, visit these loan forgiveness resources:

Learn more about nursing school financial aid and get resources for nursing scholarships and grants to help you focus on learning instead of paying your education.