One of the more common ways in which to finance a nursing education is to tap into the nursing student loans available from both the federal government and private providers. Depending on where you go to school and what degree you’re after, nursing school can cost between $10,000 and $100,000 in all – especially when you factor in things like books, supplies, uniforms, room, and board. While this cost is no more or no less than you would expect from similar degrees in other fields, it can become quite a burden once you first enter the working world.
Types of Student Loan Debt
Federal student loan debt is unique in that it almost never goes away until it is paid off. Unlike other loans, which are wiped away if you declare bankruptcy or pass away, student loans have a tendency to linger…and the government retains the right to deduct your wages if you aren’t staying current on your payments.
On the plus side, federal student loans don’t take your credit score into account, they tend to have a fairly low interest rate, and in some instances, you can take up to twenty years to pay them back. You can also defer your loans for a few months right after you graduate, so you have time to get a job and establish yourself before you actually start making payments.
Private loans don’t work quite the same way; depending on the terms of the loan, you might have a few years to pay them back, or they might be tied into your home loan or other personal property. Interest rates will vary, and the loan will be tied up in your personal credit score.
Graduating with Debt
The real challenge regarding nursing school debt comes into play a few years down the road. If, for some reason, you find that the job isn’t right for you, or if you burn out of the career due to emotional or physical pain, you will still be responsible for paying back the money you borrowed. Some of the best ways to avoid this include:
- Job shadowing to be sure the career is right for you
- Exploring other nursing options like nurse-instruction or insurance work
- Going to school part time and working part time to defray costs
- Applying for scholarships and grants in addition to loans
- Working as a CNA or LPN before going all the way in your schooling
- Considering a reimbursement program that places nurses in high-need areas
Graduating from nursing school with student loan debt can be difficult – but it’s not all bad news. The health care field is one of the only ones right now experiencing growth and salary increases, and job security is only expected to increase even more over the next ten to twenty years. And because you can start earning between $30,000 and $40,000 your first year as a nurse, you should be able to cover those initial student loan payments without too much of a problem.