Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced a program designed to help Americans with student loan debt. The three-part program includes partial debt cancellation, increased accountability for colleges that hike their tuition prices, and a change in the way the Department of Education calculates minimum monthly payments on student loans.

Although the debt cancellation is on hold due to multiple legal challenges, you still have several options for paying off your student loan debt without breaking the bank. Keep reading to learn more about Biden’s student loan forgiveness for nurses and find out what alternatives are available in case you don’t qualify or the Supreme Court puts a stop to the debt cancellation aspect of the program.

Nursing Salaries and the Student Debt Relief Plan

When it comes to Biden’s student loan forgiveness for nurses and other professionals, the good news is that the program has generous income limits. To be eligible, you must earn no more than $125,000 per year as a single filer or $250,000 if you’re married or file your taxes as the head of your household. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in the United States have a median annual salary of $77,600 per year, well below the $125,000 limit.

The income limit is high enough that you may even be able to become a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or certified registered nurse anesthetist without putting your eligibility at risk. All three positions have a median annual salary of $123,780 per year in the United States, per a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

National Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

If you step into an advanced nursing role or accept lucrative travel contracts, your income may exceed the $125,000 individual limit. Fortunately, Biden’s student loan forgiveness for nurses isn’t your only option for paying down your nursing debt. You may be eligible for a national program designed to reduce your debt load and make it easier to manage your finances.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is designed to encourage Americans to work for government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Traditionally, jobs in these organizations pay less than jobs offered by companies in the private sector. The opportunity to have some of your loans forgiven makes public service a little more attractive.

If you’re interested in using PSLF funds to cover some of your nursing debt, you need to work for a qualifying employer. Federal, state, and local agencies, along with military and tribal organizations, all count as qualifying employers under the PSLF guidelines. Not all nonprofits count as qualifying employers, so be careful when searching for employment opportunities. Examples of covered organizations include private schools, nonprofit legal aid clinics, public health services, and early childhood education centers.

Qualifications for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To have your loans forgiven under the PSLF program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Work full-time for a government agency or nonprofit organization
  • Have direct loans or consolidate other types of federal student loans into a direct loan
  • Sign up for the income-driven repayment plan
  • Make 120 qualifying payments

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

Another option is to participate in the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, which pays up to 85% of unpaid nursing debt for registered nurses, nurse faculty members, and advanced practice registered nurses. If you receive NCLRP funds, you must work for 2 years in an accredited nursing school or critical shortage facility. CSFs are public and private healthcare facilities located in or serving a Health Professional Shortage Area or an area that doesn’t have enough mental health or primary care professionals.

Unlike Biden’s student loan forgiveness for nurses and other employees, the NCLRP only covers debt related to nursing education. If you completed a history degree before enrolling in nursing school, for example, the program won’t cover any loans associated with your history degree.

This form of student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers has strict requirements, so review the program guidelines carefully before applying. Here’s a preview of what you can expect:

  • Your employment site must be approved by the Health Resources & Service Administration.
  • If you secure full-time employment, you must spend at least 26 hours per week providing direct patient care and performing other clinical services.
  • Part-time nurses must spend 80% of their time on direct patient care and clinical services.

One of the benefits of participating in the NCLRP is that HRSA approves a wide variety of employment sites, including private hospitals, public hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, dialysis centers, and community mental health centers.

Qualifications for NCLRP Student Loan Forgiveness

The program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Be prepared to provide proof of citizenship when you apply. To qualify, you must also be enrolled in or accepted to one of the following types of nursing programs:

  • An associate’s degree in nursing offered by a community college, junior college, college, or university
  • A nursing diploma program offered by a hospital, university, or independent school
  • An RN-to-BSN bridge program
  • A direct-entry program designed for students with previous degrees in non-nursing disciplines

You must also meet additional requirements. For example, you won’t be eligible for this program if any of the following apply:

  • You have current or past liens associated with a debt to the U.S. government.
  • You’ve defaulted on a previous service obligation. 
  • You’ve been suspended, debarred, excluded, or disqualified by a federal agency.
  • You already have a service obligation.
  • You’ve defaulted on a student loan, government-backed mortgage, or other federal payment obligation.
  • You have debt that’s been written off as “uncollectible.” This applies even if the debt isn’t a federal one.

The NCLRP is a bit different from PSLF student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers. With PSLF, anyone who works for a qualifying organization, makes the minimum number of payments, and meets the other eligibility requirements has their loan balance forgiven. NCLRP is a merit-based program. Funds are limited, so not everyone who applies is selected. Recipients are selected based on the following factors:

  • Educational qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Academic performance
  • Recommendation letters
  • Commitment to a nursing career
  • Interest in caring for people in underserved communities

Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

If you’re interested in military service, you may be eligible for the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program, one of the most popular forms of student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers. The following types of loans qualify for this program:

  • Loans guaranteed, made, or insured by the Higher Education Act of 1965
  • Loans guaranteed, made, or insured by a recognized financial institution
  • A health professions education loan insured or made under certain parts of the Public Health Service Act

To qualify for the HPLRP, you must have specific professional qualifications or be enrolled in an educational program designed to help you develop those qualifications. You must also perform “satisfactory service” as a military officer. The amount of money you receive through this program depends on several factors, including when you borrowed the money and how many years of service you give to the military. Participants are limited to $40,000 of forgiveness each year, less 25% for taxes.

State Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

If you don’t qualify for any national programs designed to provide student loan forgiveness for healthcare workers, don’t despair. Several states have similar programs, giving you another opportunity to reduce or eliminate your nursing debt. These are some of the best examples of the state-level programs available.

California State Loan Repayment Program

Even if you don’t qualify for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, you may qualify for the California State Loan Repayment Program, which forgives up to $10,000 in loans for nurses willing to work in a Medically Underserved Area or Health Professional Shortage Area. Although the program only requires a 1-year commitment, eligible nursing professionals are allowed to participate as many as three times. The California State Loan Repayment Program is open to nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

Florida Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program

If you live in Florida, the state’s Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program pays up to $4,000 per year for a maximum of 4 years toward an eligible nurse’s loans. To qualify, you must work at one of the state’s designated employment sites. These sites are in underserved areas, so you may be eligible if you work for a public school, public health department, state-run medical facility, or teaching hospital. The program is open to licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses.

Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program

The Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program is open to healthcare professionals working in rural and underserved facilities throughout the state. If you complete 3 years of service, you’ll receive up to $15,000 per year to use toward your nursing debt. You’ll also have the opportunity to extend your commitment for an additional 2 years, making you eligible for an additional $30,000 in funds. Program officials use a points-based system to select who receives loan repayment funds, so applying for the program isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be selected.

Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program

If you live in Pennsylvania and have nursing debt, check into the Pennsylvania Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. The program gives part-time nursing professionals up to $24,000 and full-time nurses up to $48,000 to use toward their student loans. Funds are provided in exchange for a 2-year work commitment. To qualify, you must work in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area. The program is open to certified registered nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.

Other Ways Students Can Pay Off Loan Debt

Some of these programs have stringent eligibility requirements, and there’s no guarantee Biden’s student loan forgiveness for nurses will make it past the Supreme Court. Fortunately, there are other options for paying off your nursing debt.

One option is to spend a year or two working as a travel nurse. Due to the increased demand for healthcare and the nursing shortages happening in many states, travel nurses are well-compensated. Working as a travel nurse also gives you the opportunity to explore new cities and expand your professional network. The extra money you earn as a travel nurse can go a long way toward paying off your loans.

Some nurses make extra money by doing utilization reviews, providing telehealth services to insurance plan members, or consulting for attorneys who specialize in personal injury cases. You can even make extra money by writing articles for nursing publications or serving as a subject matter expert for publishers dedicated to producing accurate content. A side hustle makes it easy to earn extra money without having to take on a second nursing job, giving you an opportunity to pay off your loans without burning yourself out in the process.

Search Nursing jobs on Wanderly here.