Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Initiatives Designed for Nurses

July 3, 2012 by  Filed under: Debt 

All students have a difficult time finding the funding required to complete their education, and even when employment opportunities seem safe, the task of repaying them is equally difficult. For nurses, for example, the weight of college debt can extremely difficult to manage, which is why federal student loan forgiveness is so welcome.

However, to avail of any of the alternative repayment options provided through these forgiveness programs, it is necessary to qualify. Nurses need to show they are contributing to more than just general health centers, and instead are bringing something to communities in real need. Once this is established, repaying student loans becomes much easier.

Eligibility for Forgiveness

Benefiting from any federal student loan forgiveness program depends on two things: firstly, that the nurse is properly qualified, and secondly, that they have utilized one of a set selection of loans. These measures are to ensure that nurses who benefit are dedicated to their vocation and not simply anyone can take advantage of the program.

Nurses must be registered and licensed by a state, thereby proving their education was completely and their standard of nursing is confirmed. In fact, nurses must have received at least a nursing diploma to be registered, but can advance to a graduate degree. All must be conferred by a recognized and accredited nursing school in the US to benefit from this alternative repayment option.

Also, nurses should be employed full time with a minimum of 32 hours worked every week before clearing student loans can be possible. But there is a preference for nurses who make a contribution to healthcare, like those who are employed at non-profit clinic or a school of nursing.

Wellness Assistance Rural Programs

Reducing the overall debt that qualified nurses face can be achieved if nurses agree to sign up to a wellness assistance program in their state. There are several types available, each of which are designed to provide an increase in the level of health care in rural areas, while also acting as part of the federal student loan forgiveness initiative.

For example, the Indian Wellness Assistance program provides an alternative repayment option to those nurses who commit to providing their expertise at Indian Wellness Centers around the country. This means that the quality of health care to native Americans is increased. Similar programs exist to benefit native Hawaiians and other minority populations.

Other such plans include the New York Office of Non-Urban Wellness, which will wipe up to $6,750 off student loans for each season that a qualified nurse commits to serving rural communities in the state. Some hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies are also part of the initiative.

Final Loan Balance Forgiveness

Through the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, it is possible for qualified nurses to have their student loan debt wiped out completely, but there is a set of criteria that must be satisfied before this break can be granted. This differs a little from typical federal student loan forgiveness programs in that the opportunity is not available to recently graduated students.

In fact, qualified nurses need to already have worked full-time in the healthcare industry, and have made a minimum of 120 monthly repayments while being employed. This effectively means that they need to have worked for 10 years before being able to benefit from the initiative, but it is still a viable alternative repayment option.

This is because the reward is a final settlement of the remaining student loan balance. While the majority of the debt will already have been paid, it brings a welcome end to the repayment ordeal.

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