How to Get Student Loans to Pay for Nursing School

Planning on going to nursing school? If you need help paying for it, there are six types of nursing student loans that you can use to cover the cost.

As the past 18 months have proven, nurses play an invaluable role in our healthcare system. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect thousands of people in the U.S., there is a huge demand for nurses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nursing is higher than average, and the median salary for registered nurses is $75,330 per year. 

However, nursing school can be expensive. Just how expensive is dependent on the type of education you decide to pursue. Your options range from certificate programs to four-year degrees or even postgraduate degrees. 

6 Types of Nursing Student Loans

The Nurse Journal reported that tuition costs from nursing school can range from $6,000 for an associate’s degree to $100,000 or more to an advanced degree. 

Few people have enough money to pay for their education with their savings, so you’ll likely need to find nursing student loans to cover the cost. Nursing school students have multiple options, including federal and private student loans

Borrower Type

Interest Rate

Disbursement Fee

Loan Term

Maximum Borrowing Amount

Eligible for Loan Forgiveness

Direct Subsidized




10-year standard repayment plan

$3,500 to $5,500 per year; $23,000 aggregate limit


Direct Unsub-



Grad students

3.73% for undergrads

5.28% for grad students


10-year standard repayment plan

$5,500 to $12,500 per year for undergrads; $57,500 aggregate limit

$20,500 for grad students; $138,500 aggregate limit


Direct PLUS

Parents of undergrads

Grad students



10-year standard repayment plan

Up to the total cost of attendance

Yes for grads

Yes for parents if they consolidate 

HRSA Nursing Student Loan Program


Grad students

Doctoral students



10-year standard repayment plan

$3,300 to $5,200 per year; $17,000 aggregate limit


HRSA Nurse Faculty Loan

Nurses in advanced education degree programs

3% and up to the prevailing market rate


10-year standard repayment plan

$35,500 per year


Private Nursing Student Loans



Fixed from 3.34%

Variable from 1.04%


5 - 20 years

Usually up to the total cost of attendance


1. Federal Direct Subsidized Loans

If you are attending a community college, career training program, or a four-year university, you may be eligible for federal Direct Subsidized loans. 

Subsidized loans are only for students that have a financial need. If you are eligible, you should take advantage of all of the available Subsidized Loans you can get. That’s because the government will cover the interest that accrues on your loans while you’re in school, during periods of deferment, and for six months after you graduate or leave school. 

With Subsidized loans, you can borrow $3,500 to $5,500 per year depending on your dependency status and the year you’re in at college. 

If you plan on working for a non-profit organization, such as non-profit hospitals or clinics, or a government agency, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are qualifying loans for PSLF. 

To get Direct Subsidized Loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  

2. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized loans are for undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of financial need. Unlike Subsidized loans, you’re responsible for all of the interest that accrues over the life of the loan, even when you’re in school. 

Depending on your student status and year, you can borrow $5,500 to $12,500 per year in Direct Subsidized Loans as an undergraduate student. 

If you’re a graduate student, you can borrow up to $20,500 per year. 

Direct Unsubsidized loans are qualifying student loans for PSLF. To apply, make sure you submit the FAFSA by federal, state, and school deadlines. 

3. Federal Direct PLUS Loans

There are two types of Direct PLUS Loans: 

  • Parent PLUS Loans: Parent PLUS Loans are for parents borrowing money to pay for their child’s undergraduate education. 
  • Grad PLUS Loans: Grad PLUS Loans are for graduate and professional students. 

With PLUS Loans, you can borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance. However, they are the only federal student loans that require credit checks. Borrowers that have an adverse credit history will need an endorser — someone with good credit — to apply with them to qualify for a PLUS loan. 

Grad PLUS loans are eligible for PSLF. Parent PLUS Loans aren’t eligible for PSLF unless the parent borrower consolidates their debt with a Direct Consolidation Loan. Once the loans are consolidated, the parent can enter into an income-driven repayment plan and work toward loan forgiveness. 

To apply for Parent PLUS Loans or Grad PLUS loans, you must complete the FAFSA and a separate PLUS Loan application. However, some schools have different processes, so talk to a financial aid counselor at your school to make sure you’re submitting the correct information. 

4. Health & Human Services Administration (HRSA) Nursing Student Loan Program

You can’t apply for the nursing student loan program directly with the HRSA; instead, schools apply to the HRSA to participate in the program. If approved, they receive funding from the HRSA which the university uses to issue loans to eligible students. 

The loans are limited to students with financial need pursuing a diploma, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or graduate degree in nursing. You must be a U.S. citizen to qualify, and you must be in school full-time or half-time. 

The nursing student loan program’s awards are based on the amount of funding the school receives, and it’s up to the college to decide how much each student gets. In general, students can receive up to $5,200 per year, and there is an aggregate limit of $17,000. Loans issued through this program are not eligible for PSLF. 

To apply, contact the financial aid office and request a nursing student loan program application. 

5. HRSA Nurse Faculty Loan Program

If you are a nurse in an advanced education program and plan to become a faculty member at a nursing school, you can use the nurse faculty loan program to cover some of your costs. 

While the program isn’t eligible for PSLF, it has another loan forgiveness benefit. If you complete four years of qualifying employment, up to 85% of your loan balance will be discharged. 

Through the nurse faculty loan program, you can receive up to $35,500 per year, for a maximum of five years. The loans have a 10-year repayment plan, but you can have a portion forgiven each year — for up to four years — if you work as a full-time nursing faculty member at an accredited school of nursing. 

  • First through third year of employment: 20% of the principal and interest 
  • Fourth year of employment: 25% of the principal and interest

You cannot apply for nursing faculty loans directly with the HRSA. Instead, you’ll apply through your university, so contact your financial aid department for more information. 

6. Private loans for nursing school

If you need money to pay for college after using federal student loans and HRSA nursing student loans, private student loans can be useful tools. 

Private loans are issued by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, and terms and rates can vary by lender. They often allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and you typically can choose a loan term between five and 20 years. 

With private student loans, there isn’t an origination fee, and you can choose between a fixed-rate loan and a variable-rate loan. 

Whether you qualify for a loan and what interest rate you’ll receive is based on your credit and income. If you don’t have good credit, you can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and getting a low interest rate by having a cosigner apply with you. 

To apply for a private student loan, you have to apply through the individual lender. It’s a good idea to review rates from multiple private student loan lenders to make sure you get the lowest interest rate possible. If you sign up with Juno, you can get access to the lowest rates available — guaranteed. 

Using Student Loans to Pay for Nursing School

If you’re working toward a nursing certificate or degree, you’re on the path to a career path that’s highly in demand. But to achieve your goal, you may need help paying for your education. Federal, HRSA, and private student loans — or a mix of all three — can cover the cost and allow you to complete your degree. 

Juno can help you to find a student loan or refinance a loan at the most competitive possible rate. We get groups of buyers together and negotiate on their behalf with lenders to save them money on private student loans and private student loan refinance loans. 

Join Juno today to find out more about your options for affordable private student loans to help fund your degree.

Kat Tretina
Written By
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.

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