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9 Best Nursing Student Loans of September 2020

Ryan LaneJune 19, 2020

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

If you need nursing student loans, exhaust your federal options before turning to private lenders. Federal student loans offer benefits like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which many nurses may be able to take advantage of post-graduation.

Private loans for nursing students are available, and these can make sense if you’ve maxed out your federal aid. Graduate students with good credit may also want to consider a private nursing student loan if they can qualify for a low interest rate.

Here are our picks for the best student loans for nursing school, as well as information on how to weigh these options.

Summary of Best Nursing Student Loans of September 2020

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

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Fixed APR

2.75 - 4.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


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 compared with 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 4.53%, while grad students get higher 6.08% rate.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

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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

Fixed APR

5.30 - 5.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best 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 Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

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Our picks for

Graduate nursing students with good credit

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 Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

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.

  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.

  • 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.

  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.25% - 12.35% APR and Variable 1.25% - 11.15% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 06/25/2020. and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit 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 and may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan. Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42.
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Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.53 - 10.72%

Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose


Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Wells Fargo’s private student loan. Wells Fargo’s MedCAP Medical School Loans offer a $180,000 lifetime loan limit for nursing students, which is higher than its traditional graduate student loan for most fields of study.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • One of the few lenders to offer loans to borrowers enrolled less than half-time.

  • More payment reduction options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Shorter length of hardship forbearance than most other lenders.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Only borrowers with existing Wells Fargo student loans are eligible.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $120,000

Available Term Lengths

15 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Part-time nursing students

A.M. Money is one of the few lenders to offer loans if you’re attending school less than half time — for example, if you’re in a part-time CNA program.

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.08 - 8.06%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for students who don’t have a co-signer, have a strong GPA and attend one of the schools A.M. money works with.

Pros

  • GPA is used to determine eligibility instead of credit or a co-signer.

  • Offers a hard-to-find, temporary income-based repayment option for up to 36 months.

  • All borrowers get the same fixed rate, benchmarked to the federal PLUS loan rates.

Cons

  • Works with a limited list of schools.

  • Charges an origination fee.

  • You can’t pay more than the minimum via autopay.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Credit and a co-signer are not required. Approval is based on GPA.

  • Minimum income: No minimum. Approval is based on GPA.

  • Loan amounts: $2,001 up to the full cost of attendance, maximum $50,000

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Disclaimer

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Our picks for

Nursing students without a co-signer

If you need money to finish nursing school but don’t have access to a co-signer, you may be able to qualify with these lenders.

Ascent Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Private Student Loan

Ascent Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

3.53 - 14.50%

Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-500s

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

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.

  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.

  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.

  • For non-co-signed future-income based option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based option is available only to college juniors and seniors.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed future income-based option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 for the co-signed and non-co-signed credit-based option. Income is not considered for the non-co-signed future income-based option.

  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $1,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $1,000 to $20,000.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based borrowers must also meet satisfactory academic performance requirements with a 2.9 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), 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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 09/01/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-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: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.
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Avenify Income Share Agreement

Avenify Income Share Agreement

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Avenify offers income share agreements, not student loans. Make sure you understand the difference before applying.

Pros

  • Periods of unemployment count toward your payment total.

  • Lending decisions are not based on your credit score.

  • You receive a discount for paying off your ISA early.

Cons

  • Funding is available only to nursing students.

  • Nursing certificate programs currently aren’t eligible.

  • You must be within 12 months of graduation to qualify.

Qualifications

  • Eligibility is based on factors like your GPA and potential cost of living, not credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $15,000.

  • Income share percentages: Typically range from 1.5% to 7.5%; average is 3.99%.

Available Term Lengths

5 years, but can extend to up to 10 years.

Disclaimer

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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

Fixed APR

7.52 - 13.63%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

N/A


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.

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.

  • 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 $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Disclaimer

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Our pick for

Rhode Island residents

Nursing students from Rhode Island or attending school there may benefit from RISLA’s Nursing Reward Program post-graduation.

RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

3.64 - 5.46%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

680


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

RISLA reduces interest rates to 0% for 48 months for nurses who qualify for its Nursing Reward Program. You must live and work in Rhode Island to be eligible, among other criteria.

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.

  • Minimum income: $40,000.

  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

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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 $6,195 would cover the average cost of tuition and fees at a two-year public college — $3,730, 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 LPN or 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 June 19, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Nursing Student Loans of September 2020

Frequently asked questions