Update on Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses: What You Should Know

Here’s What We Know About The Student Loan Forgiveness Update for Nurses

Anesthesiologist checking monitors while sedating patient before surgical procedure in hospital operating room. Young adult female African American patient is asleep on the operating table during surgery. Photo by: Getty Images/stock photo.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stock Photo.

Nurses have a career path that plays a significant role in the medical world. For years, this career track has been defined by long hours of studying, exams, understudies, and lucrative pay. Despite the lucrative allure of the profession, the reality is that there is an ongoing need for nurses in the healthcare system. According to several reports, the United States government has taken steps to address this professional shortage, including recruiting talent from other countries.

Is the government paying for people to become nurses?

In 2023, the Biden-Harris administration allocated $100 million of their budget towards growing the nursing workforce. The investment aimed to address the increasing demand for nursing professionals in the United States.

“Nurses are an essential part of our nation’s health care system,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Now more than ever, we need to double down on our investments in nurses who care for communities across the country.”

Another financial incentive employed by the government to grow the nursing workforce has been the expansion of student loan forgiveness programs to encourage people to pursue nursing careers. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers several programs, such as the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, which covers up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt for registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and nurse faculty. Additionally, various state-specific programs provide similar incentives to attract and retain nursing talent.

Close-up of a African American surgeon woman looking at camera with colleagues performing in background in operation room. The concept of medicine - stock photo
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stock Photo.

What is the average student loan debt for nurses?

For some prospective nursing school students, the responsibility of student loan debt is a major factor influencing the decision-making process. For this reason, many talented nurses either do not go to nursing school or opt for other degrees or certificates. Despite the high earning potential and job security associated with the nursing profession, the upfront costs of education can be a barrier.

The average student loan debt for nurses pursuing a graduate degree in the field can range from $40,000 to $54,999, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) debt report.

For those pursuing Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, their debt can range from $20,000 to $40,000. In certain circumstances and depending on how technical the degree is, some nurses owe as much as $80,000 to $120,000 upon graduation, which can be eye-watering to repay.

How much, on average, do nurses earn?

Multi-ethnic group of happy nursing students having fun while taking selfie at university.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stock Photo.

Multi-ethnic group of happy nursing students having fun while taking selfie at university.

The average salary for nurses can vary based on experience, location, education level, and specialty. The median salary for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States is approximately $75,000. However, depending on the state, this can range from about $60,000 to over $100,000. According to Talent.com, Nurses in states like California and Hawaii tend to earn higher wages than those in states like Florida and South Dakota.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses tend to have a higher level of training and responsibility compared to RNs, and the average annual salary for nurse practitioners is around $110,000, according to Indeed, with some earning upwards of $130,000.

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) typically earn between $100,000 and $120,000 annually, according to data from Salary.com and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are some of the highest-paid nursing professionals in the field, with an average annual salary of $203,090, according to Nurse.org.

Nursing is a dynamic career sector with varying salary ranges depending on multiple factors. While the average earnings for nurses are generally competitive, the potential for higher income will increase with more access to education, experience, and specialization, and the government can play a significant role in making this happen.

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