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Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

For working nurses, making the decision to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can be empowering. Think better patient outcomes, higher pay and wider job options for starters. But taking this step may come with concerns about cost. Imagine instead going on to earn a bachelor’s without the financial worries.

Nurses are being called on to earn their BSN, and some employers may even require it. RNs who are ready to take this step may find that they can reduce or eliminate student debt with loan forgiveness programs.

How Do Loan Forgiveness Programs Work?

Cost is a concern for almost anyone when it comes to a college degree. It can be difficult to keep the focus on learning with student debt stress. RNs looking into RN to BSN programs will find that tuition can range from under $10,000 to $80,000 or more.

Fortunately, nursing is a profession with some great opportunities for loan forgiveness. Not only can nurses get most or all of their debt erased, but they are likely to earn more money with a BSN.

BSN nurses are also more likely to be promoted to leadership roles, which may pay even more.

Loan forgiveness requirements will vary from one program to another. But generally, these programs involve a commitment to work for a given period of time in a high-need area in exchange for loan forgiveness.

One thing loan forgiveness programs are likely to have in common is a requirement that the nursing program is from an accredited school of nursing.

What Are Some Loan Forgiveness Programs to Consider?

RNs who are interested in applying for loan forgiveness programs will want to research their options to find the best fit. An overview of three programs follows:

State Loan Repayment Program: States may offer student loan repayment programs to RNs as an incentive to serve in high-need areas. RNs in Illinois, for example, can apply for the Veterans’ Home Medical Providers’ Loan Repayment Program. RNs who are accepted commit to working in a State of Illinois Veterans’ Home. They receive up to $5,000 annually for up to four years to repay student loan debt.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program (Health Resources and Services Administration): Millions of Americans live in communities without enough healthcare providers to meet basic healthcare needs. RNs can make a difference by committing to work in a health professional shortage area through the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

RNs participating in this program work full time, caring for underserved populations at a Critical Shortage Facility. The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program covers 60% of unpaid nursing student loan debt over two years of service. RNs who stay on for a third year can qualify for a total of 85% loan repayment.

Military Loan Repayment Programs: RNs who want to serve their country can consider a military nursing career. Each branch of the military may differ in nursing school loan repayment benefits. The U.S. Army, for example, offers up to $40,000 annually for qualifying educational loans. RNs interested in the Navy could get up to $34,000 to cover nursing school costs.

With loan forgiveness programs, RNs can keep the focus on earning their BSN instead of fretting about finances. Next up? With a BSN in hand, RNs may want to start looking at loan forgiveness programs that can help cover the cost of earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

With tuition priced at an affordable $9,499.70, the CCNE-accredited online RN to BSN at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) helps keep costs down for RNs who are ready to earn their BSN. Tuition for EIU’s RN to BSN program is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.

Learn more about Eastern Illinois University’s online RN to BSN program.


Illinois Student Assistance Commission: Veterans’ Home Medical Providers’ Loan Repayment Program

HRSA: Bureau of Health Workforce Loan Repayment Programs for Nurses

Nurse Corps: Health Professional Shortage Areas and NURSE Corps Scholars

U.S. Army: Army Medicine Nurse Corps

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