Guest Post By Drew Cloud
Working as a nurse is a career that allows you to help others and give back to the community. It can also open you up to many lucrative opportunities. Unfortunately, there is a drawback to becoming a nurse, and that’s the large student loan balance you have after you have acquired your education.
The good news is that there are several strategies that nursing grads with student debt can use if they put their heads down and visualize their goals.
Student Loan Forgiveness
If you work as a full-time nurse and you have Perkins loans, you may be able to have 100 percent of your loans forgiven. The loans are discharged over a five-year period as long as you remain employed as a nurse full-time.
To qualify for this program, you have to apply for it through your loan servicer or the school that disbursed the loan.
Another option is the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
This program is for nurses who work in facilities that are suffering critical nursing shortages in underserved communities.
A registered nurse must work 32 hours a week or more at the qualifying facility to get 60 percent of the student loan balance paid within two years of becoming employed.
If employed full-time for a third year, another 25 percent of the student loans will be paid by the program. There is an annual application deadline, and you will need to review the requirements to make sure this program is the best one for you.
Loan Forgiveness Programs
You can also check with your school’s financial aid office to see what loan forgiveness programs exist in your state.
Every state has at least one program. It might be the program for you if it will forgive or repay the highest percentage of your loans out of all the programs you qualify for. If the state program doesn’t forgive more than another program you can use, it’s not going to be the best program for you.
Another option is Public Service Loan Forgiveness
When you work in the public sector, this program may forgive your loans. You have to make consecutive loan payments for ten years and work full time. Direct Loans in good standing could be forgiven. However, you have to work at least 30 hours per week in public health, and your payments must have been made after October 2007 to qualify. Unlike loans that are forgiven based on income, your loan forgiveness under this program isn’t classified as taxable income.
Student Loan Consolidation and Refinancing
Whether you have private loans or federal loans, you can reduce the amount that you owe.
If you have private loans, it may pay to find a new lender who can refinance the loans for a lesser amount. You can also consolidate multiple loans in the process, so you have only one payment. The goal is to achieve a lower interest rate, so you pay less in the long term.
You can refinance student loans with a private lender, but it may not be a good idea -unless the rate is lower and you are willing to give up the benefits that federal student loans offer. For instance, federal loans have the possibility of forgiveness, especially when you opt for an income-based repayment plan. If you make your payments on time for an extended period, the remainder of the loan may be forgiven. You lose this when you decide to refinance with a private lender.
Instead, you may want to opt for a consolidation program through federal student aid. If you have multiple federal loans, you can consolidate them into one. This can save you some money and, because of an income-based repayment program you may qualify for, the loan will be paid off much sooner.
Paying a Little More Each Month
The third option is to pay a little more on your student loans each month. This doesn’t mean that you should cause yourself to scrape by from month to month. What this means is increasing the payment amount to one that you can comfortably afford so you can rid yourself of the student loan debt much sooner.
This strategy can go hand in hand with student loan refinancing, consolidation, and partial forgiveness programs. Paying more than the minimum payment can make a significant difference in how long it takes to pay off the loan.
Paying a little more each month also saves money on interest.
Drew Cloud is the Founder of The Student Loan Report – a site dedicated to keeping student loan borrowers and their families up-to-date with the latest student loan news and information.
In his free time, you can find Drew playing basketball, reading other blogs, or playing with his Great Dane named Rudy.
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