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7 Best Nursing Student Loans of July 2024

Federal student loans are best for nursing students in undergraduate and graduate school programs.

NerdWallet
By
Last updated on July 11, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Karen Gaudette Brewer
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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NerdWallet's student loans content, including articles, reviews and recommendations, is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in consumer lending. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nasdaq, MSN, ABC News, MarketWatch and many other national and regional media outlets. They also have appeared on NerdWallet's “Smart Money” podcast, as well as local TV and radio.
Top Private Student Loan Lenders
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2024 Best Private Student Loan Overall
College Ave Private Student Loan
5.0/5
NerdWallet rating
College Ave Private Student Loan
Fixed APR
3.99-17.99%
Variable APR
5.59-17.99%
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
on College Ave's website
on Credible’s website
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan
Fixed APR
4.15-15.49%
Variable APR
5.37-15.70%
Min. credit score
Mid-600's
on Sallie Mae's website
on Credible’s website

Best Nursing Student Loans

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Read review

None

5.50-7.05%

N/A

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

5.0
/5
Best for Nurses pursuing advanced degrees

None

7.54-7.54%

N/A

Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals

Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals

GO TO LENDER SITE
on Sallie Mae's website
on Sallie Mae's website
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
4.5
/5
Best for Graduate nursing students with strong finances

Mid-600's

4.15-14.48%

5.37-14.97%

Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
4.5
/5
Best for Graduate nursing students with strong finances

Low-Mid 600s

5.04-15.41%

7.74-16.10%

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website

Our pick for

All nursing students as a first choice

You may be able to borrow subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans for an undergraduate nursing degree or certificate program. Unsubsidized loans are available for graduate programs.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Read review
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

5.0
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

5.50-7.05%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Federal student loans are available to nursing students enrolled at least half-time at a degree-granting institution.

Pros
  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.
  • Subsidized loans do not collect interest while in school or during deferment.
  • Lower interest rates than many private lenders.
Cons
  • You pay an origination fee.
Qualifications
  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.
  • Loan amounts for undergraduates: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000
  • Independent students and graduate students have higher loan limits.
  • Undergraduate interest rate fixed at 3.73%, while grad students get higher 5.28% rate
Available Term Lengths10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Nurses pursuing advanced degrees

Graduate students can take out up to $20,500 annually in unsubsidized loans. You can use graduate PLUS loans to fill any remaining tuition gap.

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

7.54-7.54%

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsBest for graduate students who need to borrow beyond the federal unsubsidized loan limit.
Pros
  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers compared with private lenders.
  • All borrowers who attend a school authorized to receive federal aid can qualify.
Cons
  • May have higher interest rates compared with private lenders.
  • You pay an origination fee.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify without a hard credit check.
Qualifications
  • Grad PLUS loan borrowers must not have adverse credit history.
  • Borrowers with adverse credit history can still receive a grad PLUS loan by enlisting a co-signer without adverse credit history or documenting extenuating circumstances for their credit history.
  • Loan amounts: Total cost of attendance minus other financial aid.
Available Term Lengths10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Our pick for

Graduate nursing students with strong finances

You may save money with a private nursing school loan if you have good credit. These lenders offer loans specifically for advanced nursing degrees, but you can borrow any graduate school loan.

Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals

Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals

4.5
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.15-14.48%

Variable APR

5.37-14.97%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Sallie Mae's private student loan. Sallie Mae offers a Graduate School Loan for Health Professions with a 15-year repayment term and the option to make 12 interest-only payments after your grace period.

Pros
  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.
Cons
  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Qualifications
    Available Term Lengths10 to 20 years
    DisclaimerLowest rates shown include the auto debit. Advertised APRs for Graduate School Loan, MBA Loans, and Graduate School Loan for Health Professions assume a $10,000 loan with a 2-year in-school period. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. Advertised APRs are valid as of 7/12/2024.
    Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan
    COMPARE RATES
    on Credible’s website
    on Credible’s website
    Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

    Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan

    Min. credit score

    Low-Mid 600s

    Fixed APR

    5.04-15.41%

    Variable APR

    7.74-16.10%

    Key facts

    Ascent can offer student loan approval based on your future income. These loans are only available to college juniors and seniors at eligible schools.

    Pros
    • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
    • Grace period of 9 months is longer than many lenders offer.
    • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
    Cons
    • You must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify.
    Qualifications
    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not available.
    • Minimum income: Not available.
    • Loan amounts: up to $400,000.
    Available Term Lengths7, 10, 12 or 15 years
    DisclaimerAscent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 7/8/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest rates require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.
    College Ave Graduate Student Loan

    College Ave Graduate Student Loan

    Min. credit score

    Mid-600s

    Fixed APR

    4.22-14.49%

    Variable APR

    5.59-14.49%

    Key factsBest for graduate students who'll need extra time before starting repayment.
    Pros
    • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
    • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
    • Nine-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.
    Cons
    • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.
    Qualifications
    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.
    • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.
    • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance.
    Available Term Lengths5, 8, 10 or 15 years
    DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 7/10/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

    Our pick for

    Undergraduate nursing students with a qualified co-signer

    You may save money with a private nursing school loan if you have a co-signer with good credit.

    ISL Private Student Loan

    ISL Private Student Loan

    Min. credit score

    660

    Fixed APR

    3.85-8.40%

    Variable APR

    5.59-10.71%

    Key factsBest for low-interest loans with consumer-friendly features, like a generous forbearance policy.
    Pros
    • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
    • No late fees.
    Cons
    • Only offers 2 loan terms.
    Qualifications
    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 670.
    • Minimum income: No minimum income.
    • Loan amounts: $1,001 or $2,001, based on residency and school location, up to cost of attendance minus other aid received.
    Available Term Lengths10 or 15

    Our pick for

    International nursing students

    Many private lenders offer student loans to international students with a U.S. or permanent resident co-signer. Fewer options are available if you don’t have an eligible co-signer.

    MPOWER Private Student Loan

    MPOWER Private Student Loan

    Min. credit score

    None

    Fixed APR

    12.99-15.99%

    Variable APR

    N/A

    Key facts

    International nursing students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status can borrow from MPOWER without a co-signer.

    Pros
    • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.
    • Borrowers are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.
    • Borrowers can request forbearance of up to 24 months, which is longer than many lenders offer.
    Cons
    • Payment required while in school.
    • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
    Qualifications
    • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
    • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $100,000, limited to $50,000 per academic period.
    Available Term Lengths10 years
    DisclaimerNote: Our loan does not support Canadian citizens studying in Canada. Canadian Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens are considered “international” when studying in Canada. International students, U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and DACA recipients in the U.S. or Canada. ‘International’ means you are a non-U.S. citizen or U.S. non-permanent resident studying at a university in the U.S., or you are a non-Canadian citizen or Canadian non-permanent resident studying at a university in Canada. ‘DACA’ means the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program initiated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. In order to qualify as a DACA Student, you must have applied for, and been granted, DACA status by USCIS. As a graduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 12.99% (13.98% APR¹). This is the maximum rate and will not increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 12.74% (13.72% APR²). ¹[International graduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation, plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 13.98%, the monthly payment amount is US$113.66 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is about $156.71. ²[International graduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. At an APR of 13.72%, the monthly payment is US$111.47 for the first 30 months. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$155.17. Undergraduate Students in the U.S. or Canada As an undergraduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 13.99% (15.01% APR³). This is the maximum rate and will never increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 13.74% (14.75% APR⁴). ³[International undergraduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of $500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 15.01%, the monthly payment amount is $122.41 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is $162.97. ⁴[International undergraduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. A forbearance is never utilized and there is no prepayment of any principal. At an APR of 14.75%, the monthly payment is US$120.22 for the first 30 payments. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$161.39.

    Federal student aid for nurses

    Before turning to student loans, nursing students should exhaust free aid options like grants and scholarships, as well as work-study jobs.

    For example, the current maximum Pell Grant of $7,395 would cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a two-year public college — $3,990, according to the College Board — if you want an Associate Degree Nursing, or ADN. It may be enough for much or all of a short-term CNA diploma program as well.

    If you have to borrow student loans for nursing school, opt for federal loans before private options. Federal loans come with income-driven repayment plans, which may offer you a more affordable payment if you end up with a lot of nursing student debt or a low nursing salary after finishing your educational program.

    Federal loans are also eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program eliminates your remaining debt after you make 10 years of eligible payments while working for a qualifying nonprofit or government employer. Some private loans may be eligible for different student loan forgiveness programs for nurses.

    Available federal nursing student loans

    Nursing students may have access to multiple federal loan options, depending on the degree they’re getting and which school they attend. Borrow them in this order:

    • Subsidized direct loans are available for undergraduate nursing students — those pursuing an ADN or BSN, for example — who demonstrate financial need. The amount you can borrow in subsidized loans is limited, but these loans are a good first choice because the government pays the interest on them while you’re in school.

    • Nursing School Loans are a health professions student loan offered by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration available to undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Nursing School Loans are subsidized and have no set borrowing limit. However, these loans aren’t available at every school.

    • Unsubsidized direct loans are available to all nursing students, though borrowing limits and interest rates differ between undergraduate and graduate programs. You always pay the interest on unsubsidized loans, making them a more expensive option than the federal loans listed above.

    • Graduate PLUS loans are available for graduate nursing programs, such as MSN degrees. Graduate PLUS loans are unsubsidized and have the highest interest rates and fees among all federal loans. But these loans also have the highest borrowing limits: You can take out up to your school’s cost of attendance, minus other aid received.

    You must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be eligible for any federal loan. Schools typically require the FAFSA for Nursing School Loans as well, but check to see if yours has a different process.

    Private loans for nursing students

    Undergraduate students may need a private loan for nursing school after maxing out federal options. Private loans require good credit and strong income to qualify; most undergraduate students need a co-signer to meet these lending criteria.

    If you’re a graduate student, some lenders offer loans specifically for those pursuing healthcare degrees. These may come with lower interest rates or larger borrowing limits than traditional private graduate student loans. You could also get a better interest rate than with a PLUS loan, depending on your or a co-signer’s credit. Be sure to compare all private student loan options to get the best deal possible.

    Last updated on July 11, 2024

    Methodology

    Our survey of more than 26 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

    We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

    The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

    Read more about our ratings methodologies for student loans and our editorial guidelines.

    To recap our selections...

    NerdWallet's Best Nursing Student Loans of July 2024

    • Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan: Best for All nursing students as a first choice
    • Federal Grad PLUS Loan: Best for Nurses pursuing advanced degrees
    • Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professionals: Best for Graduate nursing students with strong finances
    • Ascent Graduate and Health Professions Student Loan: Best for Graduate nursing students with strong finances
    • College Ave Graduate Student Loan: Best for Graduate nursing students with strong finances
    • ISL Private Student Loan: Best for Undergraduate nursing students with a qualified co-signer
    • MPOWER Private Student Loan: Best for International nursing students

    Frequently asked questions

    • Federal Nursing School Loans are loans whose funding is from the Health Resources and Services Administration. These loans are available at participating schools for students with financial need.

    • If you work at a nonprofit organization post-graduation, your federal loans may qualify for loan forgiveness. Other programs are available to nurses that may also forgive private loans.

    • Nursing students should typically use federal loans before turning to private loans. That's because federal aid offers more flexible repayment options and potential options for forgiveness.

    • The most recent data reveals that students with healthcare-related bachelor's degrees, including nursing students, have an average student loan debt of around $34,000. Graduate nursing student loan debt ranges between $40,000 and $54,999.

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