Best Nursing Student Loans: How to Find and Apply 2023

Best Nursing Student Loans – Nursing is a rewarding and in-demand profession that can offer many opportunities for personal and professional growth. However, pursuing a nursing degree can also be expensive, especially if you need to attend a four-year or graduate program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the median debt for nursing students was between $40,000 and $54,999 in 2020.

Fortunately, there are various options for nursing student loans that can help you cover the cost of your education. In this article, we will explain the different types of nursing student loans, how to compare them, and how to apply for them.


Types of Nursing Student Loans

There are two main sources of nursing student loans: federal and private. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand them before choosing the best one for your situation.

Federal Nursing Student Loans

Federal student loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education and are available to eligible students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal student loans have several benefits, such as:

  • Fixed and relatively low-interest rates
  • Flexible repayment plans, including income-driven options
  • Loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)
  • Deferment and forbearance options in case of financial hardship
  • No credit check or co-signer required

There are two types of federal student loans that nursing students can access: Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans.

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are the most common federal student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. The main difference between them is that subsidized loans are based on financial need, while unsubsidized loans are not. Subsidized loans also have the benefit of not accruing interest while you are in school or during deferment periods, while unsubsidized loans do.

The interest rates for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans are fixed and vary depending on the academic year. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the interest rates are 4.99% for subsidized loans and 6.54% for unsubsidized loans. The origination fees are 1.057% for both types of loans.

The borrowing limits for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans depend on your year in school and your dependency status. The maximum amount you can borrow per year ranges from $5,500 to $12,500 for undergraduates, and from $20,500 to $40,500 for graduates. The aggregate limit (the total amount you can borrow throughout your education) is $31,000 for dependent undergraduates, $57,500 for independent undergraduates, and $138,500 for graduate students.

Direct PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS Loans are federal student loans that are available to graduate or professional students (Grad PLUS Loans) or parents of dependent undergraduate students (Parent PLUS Loans). Unlike Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans require a credit check and may require a co-signer (called an endorser) if you have an adverse credit history.

The interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans is fixed and higher than other federal student loans. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the interest rate is 7.54%. The origination fee is 4.228%

The borrowing limit for Direct PLUS Loans is the cost of attendance (COA) minus any other financial aid received. The COA includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, and living expenses.

Private Nursing Student Loans

Private student loans are issued by banks, credit unions, online lenders, or other financial institutions. Private student loans can be an alternative or a supplement to federal student loans if you need more money to pay for your nursing education. However, private student loans have some drawbacks, such as:

  • Variable or higher interest rates than federal student loans
  • Fewer repayment options and less flexibility
  • No loan forgiveness or discharge programs
  • Limited deferment and forbearance options
  • Credit check and co-signer required

The interest rates, fees, terms, and eligibility criteria for private student loans vary depending on the lender. Some lenders may offer special benefits or discounts for nursing students, such as lower rates for good grades or automatic payments.

Some examples of private lenders that offer nursing student loans are:

  • Earnest: Earnest offers flexible repayment options and a nine-month grace period for nursing students who enroll in a four-year or graduate program. The interest rates range from 4.50% to 15.49% for fixed loans and from 6.37% to 16.70% for variable loans. There are no origination or prepayment fees.
  • Ascent: Ascent offers both co-signed and non-co-signed loans for nursing students who attend an eligible school. The interest rates range from 4.62% to 15.50% for fixed loans and from 3.65% to 14.50% for variable loans. There are no application, origination, or prepayment fees.
  • MPOWER: MPOWER offers loans for international nursing students who attend a participating school in the U.S. or Canada. The interest rates range from 13.74% to 15.01% for fixed loans. There are no origination or prepayment fees, but there is a 5% administrative fee.

How to Compare Nursing Student Loans

When comparing nursing student loans, you should consider several factors, such as:

Interest rate

The interest rate is the percentage of the loan amount that you pay in interest over time. A lower interest rate means a lower cost of borrowing and a lower monthly payment. You should also check whether the interest rate is fixed or variable. A fixed interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan, while a variable interest rate can change based on market conditions.


Fees are additional charges that you may have to pay when taking out or repaying a loan. Some common fees are origination fees, application fees, late fees, and prepayment fees. Fees can increase the overall cost of borrowing and reduce the amount of money you receive or save.

Repayment term

The repayment term is the length of time you have to repay your loan. A shorter repayment term means higher monthly payments but less interest paid over time. A longer repayment term means lower monthly payments but more interest paid over time.

Repayment options

Repayment options are the choices you have for how and when you repay your loan. Some common repayment options are deferred repayment, where you don’t make any payments while in school or during a grace period; interest-only repayment, where you only pay the interest on your loan while in school or during a grace period; partial repayment, where you pay a small amount of your loan while in school or during a grace period; and full repayment, where you start making full principal and interest payments as soon as you receive your loan.

Grace period

The grace period is the amount of time after you graduate or leave school before you have to start making payments on your loan. A longer grace period gives you more time to find a job and get financially ready before entering repayment.

Loan forgiveness or discharge

Loan forgiveness or discharge is the cancellation of some or all of your loan balance under certain circumstances, such as working in public service, teaching in a low-income area, becoming permanently disabled, or dying. Loan forgiveness or discharge can reduce or eliminate your debt burden and save you money in the long run.

Co-signer requirement

A co-signer is someone who agrees to repay your loan if you fail to do so. Having a co-signer can help you qualify for a loan or get a lower interest rate if you have a low credit score or no credit history. However, co-signing a loan can also affect your co-signer’s credit score and financial situation if you default on your loan.

How to Apply for Nursing Student Loans

The application process for nursing student loans depends on whether you are applying for federal or private loans.

Applying for Federal Nursing Student Loans

To apply for federal nursing student loans, you need to complete the FAFSA online at or by using the myStudentAid mobile app. You will need to provide information about your personal and financial situation, such as your Social Security number, tax returns, bank statements, and school information.

You should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 each year, as some types of federal aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You should also check the deadlines for your state and school, as they may differ from the federal deadline.

After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that summarizes your eligibility for federal aid. You will also receive an award letter from each school that you listed on your FAFSA that details the types and amounts of aid that they offer you.

To accept a federal student loan offer, you need to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) that outlines the terms and conditions of your loan. You may also need to complete entrance counseling, which is an online session that explains your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Applying for Private Nursing Student Loans

To apply for private nursing student loans, you need to choose a lender and fill out an online application on their website. You will need to provide information about yourself and your co-signer (if applicable), such as your name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, Social Security number, citizenship status, school information, loan amount, income, and expenses.

You will also need to consent to a credit check, which will affect your credit score temporarily. The lender will review your application and credit history and determine your eligibility and interest rate. You will receive a loan offer that you can accept or decline.

To accept a private student loan offer, you need to sign a promissory note that outlines the terms and conditions of your loan. You may also need to provide additional documents, such as proof of income, enrollment, or identity.

Tips for Finding the Best Nursing Student Loans

Finding the best nursing student loans for your education can be challenging, but there are some tips that can help you make an informed decision, such as:

  • Exhaust all other sources of financial aid before taking out student loans. You may be eligible for scholarships, grants, work-study programs, or other forms of aid that do not have to be repaid. You can search for nursing scholarships and grants on websites like [], [], or [].
  • Compare multiple lenders and loan options before choosing one. You can use online tools like [Credible], [LendEDU], or [Student Loan Hero] to compare interest rates, fees, terms, and features of different nursing student loans. You should also read the fine print and understand the pros and cons of each loan.
  • Borrow only what you need and can afford to repay. You should have a realistic budget and estimate how much money you need to cover your education and living expenses. You should also consider your future income and expenses and how they will affect your ability to repay your loan. You can use online calculators like [FinAid] or [] to estimate your monthly payments and total interest costs.
  • Choose a repayment plan that suits your financial situation and goals. You should consider factors such as your income level, debt-to-income ratio, loan balance, interest rate, and repayment term when choosing a repayment plan. You should also check whether you qualify for any loan forgiveness or discharge programs that can reduce or eliminate your debt.
  • Make timely and extra payments whenever possible. Paying your loan on time and in full can help you avoid late fees, penalties, and negative impacts on your credit score. Paying more than the minimum amount or making extra payments can help you save money on interest and pay off your loan faster.

In conclusion, Nursing student loans can help you finance your education and pursue your career goals. However, they also come with responsibilities and risks that you should be aware of. By following the tips above, you can find the best nursing student loans for your situation and manage them wisely.

Best Nursing Student Loans: Frequently Asked Questions (F&Qs)

Best Nursing Student Loans

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