Nursing student loans can help cover the costs of a nursing degree program when other funding sources have been exhausted. Find out which nursing loans are best, how much you can borrow for school, and how you can qualify.
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Earning a nursing degree at an in-state, public school can cost more than $40,000 in tuition and fees, and that doesn't even take the cost of room and board, textbooks, and college supplies into account. That said, student loans for nursing degrees can help you secure the funding you need to graduate. Our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you get funded, so read on to learn about our top picks.
Best Nursing Student Loans for 2023 - Full Overview
We compared more than 30 top online lenders to find the best student loans for nursing degrees of 2023. The lender reviews below explain more about each of the lenders that made our ranking, including their interest rates, borrowing limits, and pros and cons.
Splash Financial — Best for Low Rates
Splash Financial is best for low rates due to the fact you can use this platform to compare loan offers from multiple lenders. Comparing multiple nursing loans in one sitting gives you the chance to find the lowest possible interest rates you can qualify for. You can also use Splash Financial to compare lenders based on their nursing student loan repayment options, loan discounts and more. The company also makes it easy to check your borrowing options, including both fixed-rate and variable rate loans, after entering the name of your school.
Splash Financial offers private nursing school loans for both undergraduate and graduate degree students. However, the fact this company is a loan aggregator site means that the rates and terms of their loan options vary. At the moment, the company is advertising variable APRs from .94% to 11.44% and fixed APRs of 2.99% to 12.78%. Minimum qualification requirements vary by lender.
The Bottom Line
If you want to compare nursing loans from multiple lenders on a single platform, Splash Financial can help you do just that. This company lets you check your rate without a hard inquiry, and they offer some of the most competitive rates and terms on the market today.
College Ave Student Loans — Best for Undergraduate Nursing Students
College Ave Student Loans offers private student loans for all types of nursing students, but their loans for undergraduate students are some of the best out there. Nursing students can choose to make payments during school or wait until they graduate, and four different repayment terms are offered. College Ave is another lender that lets you check your rate and approval odds before you qualify, and their entire application process takes place online.
College Ave Student Loans lets eligible nursing students borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance at their school, including expenses for books and supplies, housing, and more. A minimum credit score of 650 is usually required, and borrowers can apply with a cosigner to boost their approval odds. Rates currently advertised include variable APRs of .94% to 12.99% and fixed APRs of 3.22% to 13.95%. Nursing students can repay their loans over five, eight, 10, or 15 years.
The Bottom Line
College Ave Student Loans offers competitive rates and terms for undergraduate nursing loans, as well as flexible repayment plans. You can also check your rate before you apply, which makes it easy to compare College Ave to other lenders on our list.
Sallie Mae offers both undergraduate and graduate student loans, although their nursing loans for graduate students are exceptional. These loans come with competitive rates and terms, and students can borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance if they need to. In-school and deferred payment options are available, and these loans are even available to part-time nursing students who may be studying in their spare time while they work or take care of family obligations.
Sallie Mae lets nursing students borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance for school, and they may be able to repay their loans over five to 20 years. These loans come with no origination fees and no hidden fees, and they are available to both full-time and part-time students. International students may also be able to qualify with an eligible cosigner. Interest rates currently advertised by Sallie Mae include variable APRs of 1.87% to 11.97% and fixed APRs of 3.75% to 12.85%.
The Bottom Line
Sallie Mae is worth considering if you need to borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance for a nursing degree. These loans are even available to part-time nursing students so they're ideal for nurses pursuing graduate-level education during evenings or weekends.
Where many student loan companies do not offer any help during times of economic hardship, Discover offers multiple forbearance options you can turn to if you need some time to catch up on payments. This lender also offers exceptional student loans with no origination fees and no hidden fees, and you can even get a one-time cash reward of 1% of the loan amount for each Discover student loan you take out when you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Discover lets borrowers take out enough student loans to cover the school-certified cost of attendance, and they let you repay over 15 years without any prepayment penalties. Discover loans also come with no origination fees and no hidden fees. Advertised rates include variable APRs of 1.79% to 11.24% and fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.34%. While Discover does not disclose a minimum credit score requirement for their student loans, they do say that applying with a co-signer will increase your approval odds.
The Bottom Line
Consider Discover if you want a private student loan that has forbearance options you can utilize during times of economic hardship. This lender also offers competitive rates and terms, and there are no hidden fees to be aware of.
While SoFi is best known for their attractive student loan refinancing products, this lender also offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students. We chose SoFi for our ranking due to the many discounts they offer, including an auto-pay discount and an interest rate discount of 0.125% if an eligible co-signer uses another SoFi product, such as a personal loan. SoFi also offers other perks, including a career services department that can help you land a job after graduation.
SoFi lets borrowers take out enough loans to cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance at their nursing school. Repayment terms can last for five, seven, 10 or 15 years depending on your needs. Current advertised rates include variable APRs of 2.59% to 13.17% and fixed APRs of 4.60% to 12.55%. While SoFi does not disclose their minimum credit score requirements, you may not be able to qualify without good credit or an eligible cosigner.
The Bottom Line
SoFi offers exceptional nursing loans with competitive rates, no hidden fees and several discounts available. Unemployment protection is even offered, which can give you the chance to pay a lower monthly payment for three to 12 months of unemployment.
Laurel Road offers an exceptional and award-winning refinance option for nurses who need to lock in better rates and terms for their nursing school loans. Loans from this company can be repaid over up to 20 years, and interest rates and terms are highly competitive. This lender also offers lower rates for applicants who also open a Laurel Road checking account and set up qualifying direct deposits. Borrowers can check their rate with no hard inquiry or impact to their credit scores.
Laurel Road offers student loan refinancing for nursing school graduates and other eligible professionals. Borrowers can repay their loans over five to 20 years, and variable APRs of 1.64% to 5.95% and fixed APRs of 3.24% to 6.05% are available. It's important to note, however, that interest rates can vary depending on the payment plan you choose. Also be aware that the lowest advertised rates include an auto-pay discount and additional discounts for setting up a Laurel Road checking account with qualifying direct deposits
The Bottom Line
If you want to refinance your nursing loans to get a lower monthly payment, a lower interest rate, or both, Laurel Road is worth checking out. You can even check your rate and your approval odds before you apply.
Education Loan Finance is another top lender to consider if you're on the hunt for a nurse loan repayment program with no origination fees and no hidden fees. This lender also offers multiple repayment options to choose from, which can help you tailor your monthly student loan payment to your budget and your needs. Education Loan Finance also clearly discloses their qualification requirements, which makes it easy to know if you would be eligible for their student loan or refinancing products.
Education Loan Finance lets students borrow up to the cost of attendance for a bachelor's degree program or graduate degree program in nursing. Variable interest rates start at 1.30% and fixed rates start at 3.20% for those who qualify. Applicants can also repay their student loans over five to 15 years, although parents who borrow with this lender face a maximum repayment term of 10 years. Minimum borrowing requirements include a credit score of 680, at least 36 months of credit history, and a minimum income of $35,000.
The Bottom Line
Education Loan Finance is one of the top lenders with no origination fees and no hidden fees. However, you'll need good credit or a cosigner with good credit to qualify.
Nursing school can be expensive, yet the long-term benefits can more than outweigh the costs. After all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) reports that registered nurses earned a median annual wage of $77,600 nationally as of May 2021. Plus, employment in this profession is expected to increase 9% during the decade leading up to 2030, which will add 276,800 new nurses throughout the United States.
That said, you should choose your nursing loans carefully. Our experts considered the following factors as they picked the lenders for this ranking.
Loan features: Compare nursing loans based on their loan features, including borrowing limits and available repayment plans. Make sure nursing student loan repayment options from various lenders make sense for your budget and your goals.
Interest rates and fees: You'll also want to compare lenders based on the interest rates they offer, whether you plan to select a variable rate loan or a fixed-rate nursing loan. Also check for hidden fees, including origination fees.
Application process: Find out what you need to apply for a nursing loan, as well as whether you can complete the entire application process online and from the comfort of your home.
Qualification process: Find out if each lender has any minimum requirements to qualify, which can include minimum credit score, credit history, or income requirements.
Customer support: Look for lenders that offer multiple customer support options and ways to contact them. The best lenders tend to have phone support, email support, and the option to chat with a representative online.
Online user reviews: Make sure to read reviews from past users, which can be found on websites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Perks and Bonuses: Also look for perks and bonuses you can qualify for, such as auto-pay discounts and refer-a-friend programs.
Best Nursing Student Loans - Feature Comparison
Min. credit score
Variable APR of .94% to 11.44%
Fixed APR of 2.99% to 12.78%
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
College Ave Student Loans
Variable APR of .94% to 12.99%
Fixed APR of 3.22% to 13.95%
Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
5, 8, 10, or 15 years
Variable APR of 1.87% to 11.97%
Fixed APR of 3.75% to 12.85%
Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
5 to 20 years
Variable APR of 1.79% to 11.24%
Fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.34%
Up to 100% of the cost of attendance
Variable APR of 2.59% to 13.17%
Fixed APR of 4.60% to 12.55%
$5,000 up to 100% of the cost of attendance
5, 7, 10, or 15 years
Variable APR of 1.64% to 5.95%
Fixed APR of 3.24% to 6.05%
5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years
Education Loan Finance
Variable APR of 1.30% and up
Fixed APR of 3.20% and up
$1,000 up to 100% of the cost of attendance
5 to 15 years
Options for Financing Nursing School
Federal Student Loans
Federal student loans for nurses come with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments and government benefits like access to income-driven repayment plans, deferment, and forbearance. Federal nursing loan options that may be available to students include:
Direct Subsidized Loans are for undergraduate students who can demonstrate financial need. The government pays the interest on these loans while the borrower is in school, which can help lower the costs of attending college.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but interest accrues while the student is in school.
Direct PLUS Loans are for graduate and professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students. Eligibility is not based on financial need, and a credit check is required.
Direct Consolidation Loans allow borrowers to consolidate multiple federal loans into a new loan with a single monthly payment.
HRSA Nursing Student Loans
The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) offers financial assistance to nursing students who need help paying for school or repaying their nursing school debt. Available resources include grants, repayment programs, training programs, scholarships and more.
Private Student Loans for Nurses
Private student loans for nurses include borrowing options from the companies that made our ranking. These loans are offered through private institutions and lenders, and they help nursing students fill in funding gaps after other college funding sources have been exhausted.
Financial Aid for Nursing Education
All college students, including future nurses, should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as they prepare to enter each year of school. This form lets families know what type of federal student aid they're eligible for, including federal student loans, grants, work-study programs, and more.
Grants for Nursing School
Grants for nurses can be found by filling out the FAFSA form, or through institutions like the HRSA. Unlike the traditional nursing student loan program that requires repayment, grants typically do not need to be paid back.
Nursing School Scholarships
Also look for nursing school scholarships, which you can find through organizations like the HRSA as well as local hospitals and professional organizations. You can even search for scholarships using reputable websites like Fastweb.com and the College Board's Big Future
Some private lenders, including College Ave Student Loans, even have their own scholarship programs.
Nursing Student Loan Repayment: Things to Consider
Borrowers need to ask themselves plenty of questions before they borrow for nursing school, and that's true whether they are taking out federal student loans or private student loans. If you're looking for a nursing student loan program but wondering which questions to ask, the sections below can help you in your search.
How long is the loan’s grace period?
The term "grace period" is used to describe the amount of time you have after graduating or leaving school before payment is required on student loans. Make sure you know how long the grace period is for any loans you take out, or whether you get a grace period at all.
Are there multiple repayment options?
Compare lenders and loan options based on the repayment plans that are available. While a longer repayment plan can help you score a lower monthly payment, picking a shorter repayment plan can help you ditch student loan debt faster.
What repayment options are available while you’re in school?
Some lenders require you to make payments on your student loans while you're still in school, while others do not. You may also get the option to make fixed payments or interest-only payments while you're still in school.
How much of the monthly payment is applied toward your balance?
Use a student loan calculator to find out how much of your monthly payment goes toward the principal of your loan each month. This amount will vary depending on the interest rate you qualify for and the repayment option you select.
Are any options available if you’re having trouble repaying?
Check whether lenders you're considering offer unemployment protection or forbearance options during times of economic hardship.
Will you be able to refinance your loans after you complete your education?
Both federal and private student loans can be refinanced down the line if you qualify. However, you should only refinance student loans when you are getting a better deal somehow, either by changing up your monthly payment to your liking or securing a lower interest rate.
Programs that Help with Nursing Student Loan Repayment
Several programs can help nurses pay off their student loans or have them forgiven with eligible employment.
The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is a HRSA initiative that will pay up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt for eligible registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and nurse faculty. However, at least two years of employment is required in a critical shortage area or at an eligible nursing school.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) makes it possible for nurses to have their federal student loan balances forgiven after 120 months (10 years) of employment in a public service position. Nurses must work full-time for an eligible employer for a full 120 months, and they're required to make minimum payments on an income-driven repayment plan during that time.
Nursing Student Loan Consolidation: Nurses can consolidate their federal loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan. This loan uses the weighted average of their existing federal student loans, so borrowers won't get a rate cut in the process. However, consolidating can help nurses pay just one monthly federal loan payment instead of several.
Nursing Student Loan Refinancing: Nurses can also refinance their federal or private student loans with a private lender. Doing so can help them secure a lower interest rate, a more appropriate monthly payment, or both.
While most nurses are better off using federal student loans for nursing school first, private lenders can help fill in funding gaps so you can graduate. That said, not all private lenders are created equal, and some offer better student loans rates and terms than others do.
The nursing student loans that made our ranking tend to be the best for most borrowers, mostly due to their strong company reputations, their competitive rates and terms, and their flexible repayment options. Make sure to compare all the lenders on this list before you apply for a nursing loan, and check your rate with at least three or four lenders to see how they stack up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a federal nursing student loan?
A federal nursing loan is a federal student loan that is backed by the government. Federal student loans come with fixed interest rates and fixed monthly payments, as well as access to income-driven plans and federal forbearance and deferment programs.
How are interest rates determined for private nursing loans?
Private lenders base interest rates on the eligibility of their applicants, including their credit scores and credit history. Generally speaking, borrowers need good credit or better to qualify for the best interest rates on private student loans. Using the FICO scoring model, good credit includes scores of 670 or higher.
How much debt do nursing students have?
The average amount of nursing school debt can depend on the school attended, how much financial aid a student receives, and the level of education completed. However, recent reports show that nurses typically leave school with $20,000 to $45,000 in student loan debt depending on the program.
Do nursing student loans qualify for forgiveness?
Private student loans do not qualify for forgiveness plans. However, federal student loans can qualify for forgiveness via income-driven repayment plans, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), and state-based or organizational-based fprograms.
What’s the best student loan for nursing school?
Generally speaking, borrowers should focus on maximizing federal student loans for nursing schools first. After that, the best loans from private lenders are ones that come with competitive interest rates and flexible loan terms.