Student Loan Forgiveness: 4 Options for Nurse Practitioners

Last Updated/Verified: Mar 5, 2021

Are you a nurse practitioner who is saddled with student loan debt? If so, you're not alone!

For many nurse practitioners, the financial burden of getting their degree is the only downside to the profession. With a nurse practitioner degree costing up to $100,000, it is not surprising that many nurse practitioners take out student loans. In fact, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the average nursing student loan debt is between $40,000 and $54,999.

The good news is there are multiple student loan forgiveness programs to help ease this financial strain. There are strict guidelines to qualify for the programs, but for those who meet the requirements, they are certainly worth applying for.

Federal student loan forgiveness programs available to nurse practitioners include:

Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)

The Nurse Corp Loan Repayment Program is an excellent option for nurse practitioners who want to work in under-served communities or in academics. The program repays up to 85% of student loan debt for nurse practitioners who work in a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) or who work as faculty for eligible nursing schools.

Eligibility Requirements For Nurse Practitioners

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent U.S. residents.
  • Nurse practitioners must work full-time, which is a minimum of 32 hours per week, at either a CSF or an eligible nursing school.
  • Applicants must have an active, unencumbered license and have a post-graduate degree from an accredited nurse practitioner program.
  • There are no income requirements, but priority is given to applicants with the greatest financial need.

Amount of Debt Forgiveness

  • The baseline loan forgiveness is 60% in exchange for working two years in a CSF or working as a nursing faculty at an eligible nursing school.
  • After completing the minimum two year requirement, nurse practitioners have the option of working a third year in their approved practice location to earn an extra 25% reduction, for a total of 85% loan repayment.

How to Apply

  • Nurse practitioners interested in the program may apply online using the Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA) loan repayment application portal.
  • For questions about using the portal or the application process, applicants can call 1-800-221-9393.

Indian Health Services (IHS) Loan Repayment Program

The Indian Health Services (IHS) Loan Repayment Program pays a maximum of $40,000 in student loan debt of eligible healthcare professionals in exchange for working two years in healthcare facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. After the initial two-year commitment, providers may continue to work with IHS until their student loans are paid off in full.

Eligibility Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens.
  • In order to apply, applicants must have an unencumbered license or be in the final year of a postgraduate nurse practitioner degree program. Applicants must be licensed prior to starting employment.
  • Priority is given to American Indians and Alaskan Natives, but any nurse practitioner who is committed to working at IHS facilities is encouraged to apply.

How to Apply

  • Nurse practitioners must have an IHS web account in order to apply and it can be created online here.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is an excellent option for nurse practitioners who have worked at least ten years for a qualified employer and still have student loan debt. In order to be eligible for the program, nurse practitioners must have made a minimum of 120 student loan payments. Unlike income-based loan repayment programs, repayment from the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is not taxable.

Eligibility Requirements for Nurse Practitioners

  • Applicants must work full-time for a qualified employer, which includes federal, state, or tribal healthcare facilities and non-profit healthcare facilities.
  • Only Direct Student Loans or student loans that have been consolidated into a Direct Student Loan are eligible for repayment.
  • Applicants must have made 120 student loan payments while being employed by a qualified employer. Individuals who pay ahead on their student loans will not qualify before the ten-year mark.

How to Apply

  • Complete the PSLF application and submit it to the US Department of Education via mail, fax, or upload via the MyFedLoan Portal.
  • The Department of Education recommends that applicants update and submit the PSLF application annually for each year working for a qualified employer.

State Level Loan Forgiveness

Each state offers loan forgiveness opportunities for nurse practitioners in addition to federally sponsored loan forgiveness programs. The requirements, eligibility, and work commitments vary by state. Information for specific state programs can be found on individual state websites.

If you're a nurse practitioner with student loan debt, don't hesitate to apply for a loan forgiveness program. Paying off your debt is the best way to reap the financial benefits of earning your nurse practitioner degree.

Rebecca Brunelle