General Resources » Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses
Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses2019-03-04T18:41:36+00:00

Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses

Federal and state programs provide various levels of student loan forgiveness for qualifying nurses. Eligibility for these programs usually entails a service obligation at a hospital, clinic, nursing school or other health care facility in a high-need area. Although these loan forgiveness programs will not provide immediate financial assistance for nurses who are currently enrolled or thinking about going back to school, they can ease the burden of obtaining a nursing degree after you enter the workforce.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

The NURSE Corps pays up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt for registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in exchange for a minimum two-year commitment to work at an eligible Critical Shortage Facility (CFS) in a high need area. A CFS is a public or private nonprofit health care facility located in, designated as, or serving a Health Professional Service Area (HPSA).

To be eligible for loan repayment, all applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen (either U.S. born or naturalized), U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident, and provide documentation of their status.
  • Have earned a baccalaureate or associate degree in nursing (or equivalent degree), a diploma in nursing, or graduate degree in nursing.
  • Be employed as a full-time RN or APRN working at least 32 hours per week at a public or private nonprofit CSF or be employed as a full-time nurse faculty member at a public or private nonprofit, eligible school of nursing.
  • Incurred outstanding qualifying educational loans leading to a diploma or degree in nursing.
  • Completed the nursing education program for which the loan balance applies.
  • Have a current, full, permanent, unencumbered, unrestricted license to practice as a RN, or an APRN if applicable, in the state in which they intend to practice, or be authorized to practice in that state pursuant to the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Source: “NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program” Health Resources and Services Administration. Retrieved November 15, 2018 from

NURSE Corps Eligible Health Care Facilities
Including critical access hospitals (CAH), disproportionate share hospitals (DSH), public hospitals and private non-profit hospitals.
Outpatient Clinics
Including federally qualified health centers (FQHC), Indian health service centers, native Hawaiian health centers, rural health clinics, state or local health departments, nurse-managed health clinics, urgent care centers, certified community behavioral health clinic (CCBHC) and free and charitable clinics.
End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Dialysis Centers
An ESRD facility is an entity that provides outpatient maintenance dialysis services, or home dialysis training and support services, or both.
Ambulatory Surgical Center
An entity that operates exclusively for the purpose of furnishing surgical services to patients who do not require hospitalization and in which the expected duration of services does not exceed 24 hours following admission.
Residential Nursing Home
An institution that is primarily engaged in providing, on a regular basis, health related care and service to individuals who because of their mental or physical condition require care and service (above the level of room and board) that can be made available to them only through institutional facilities.
Home Health Agency
An agency or organization, certified under section 1861(o) of the Social Security Act, which is primarily engaged in providing skilled nursing care and other therapeutic services.
Hospice Program
An agency or organization, certified under section 1861(dd)(2) of the Social Security Act, that provides 24-hour care and treatment services (as needed) to terminally ill individuals and bereavement counseling for their immediate family members.
Source: “NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program” Health Resources and Services Administration. Retrieved November 15, 2018 from

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

The NHSC offers tax-free loan repayment assistance for licensed health care providers in exchange for a two-year commitment at an NHSC-approved site. Service at sites in higher-need areas yields greater loan repayments. NHSC-approved sites:

  • Are in a Health Professional Shortage Area
  • Provide primary medical care, dental, or mental and behavioral health services
  • Provide service regardless of a patient’s ability to pay
  • Offer discounted fees to patients who qualify
  • Accept patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Which Nursing Disciplines and Specialties are Eligible?
Primary Care Medical
Discipline Specialty
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) N/A
Nurse Practitioners (NP)
Adult Family Pediatric Women’s Health Geriatrics Mental Health & Psychiatry
Psychiatric Nurse Specialists (PNS) N/A
Source: “Loan Repayment” Health Resources and Services Administration. Retrieved November 15, 2018 from

The NHSC Loan Repayment Program is extremely competitive. If you are eligible to apply, you may be interested in learning about the selection factors and criteria used by the NHSC to evaluate applicants:

  • You honor legal obligations – “We will not select you if you have a history of not honoring prior legal obligations. To determine this, we review factors such as a default on any federal payment obligations or any non-federal payment obligations (e.g., court-ordered child support payments), even if that creditor considers you to be in good standing.”
  • You are not in breach of any service obligation – “We will not select you for an award if you are in breach of a health professional service obligation to a federal, state, or other entity.”
  • You do not have an existing service obligation – “If you are already obligated to a federal, state, or other entity for professional practice or service, we will not select you to participate unless that obligation will be complete prior to starting your NHSC LRP service.”
  • You are not currently excluded, suspended or disqualified by a federal agency – “In the application, you must sign a certification stating that you are not excluded, suspended, or disqualified by a federal agency. You must also agree to provide immediate written notice to us if you failed to make a required disclosure or if your circumstances change in such a way that a disclosure is now necessary.”
  • You commit to providing primary care service in a HPSA – “We seek to recruit providers with a strong commitment to primary care and serving in communities most in need of primary care services.”

Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

To combat the nation’s opioid crisis, the NHSC recently launched the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Workforce Loan Repayment Program. The program will support the recruitment and retention of health professionals needed in underserved areas to expand access to SUD treatment and prevent overdose deaths. Eligible clinicians—including Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Certified Nurse Midwives trained and licensed to provide SUD treatment at NHSC-approved evidence-based SUD treatment facilities—may receive up to $75,000 in student loan repayment in exchange for a three-year commitment.

According to the NHSC, applicants will receive priority if they:

  • Have a DATA 2000 waiver;
  • Service in an opioid treatment program; or
  • Are licensed or certified in substance use disorder interventions

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Nurses by State

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