Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial research influence how products appear on a page. Student Loans Best Student Loans for Nurses Updated Aug 07, 2023   |   13-min read Written by Zina Kumok Written by Zina Kumok Expertise: Student loans, credit scores, personal loans, banking, education planning Zina Kumok is a personal finance writer dedicated to explaining complex financial topics so real people can understand them. As a former newspaper reporter, she has covered everything from murder trials to the Final Four. Learn more about Zina Kumok Reviewed by Crystal Rau, CFP® Reviewed by Crystal Rau, CFP® Expertise: Equity compensation, oil & gas investments, education planning, investment planning, student loan planning, retirement Crystal Rau, CFP®, CRPC®, AAMS®, is a certified financial planner based out of Midland, Texas. She is the founder of Beyond Balanced Financial Planning, a fee-only registered investment advisor that helps young professionals and families balance living their ideal lives and being good stewards of their finances. Learn more about Crystal Rau, CFP® We’ve reviewed every student loan company available and our best overall pick for nurses is College Ave. Best student loan lenders for nurses Here are some of our top selections. We reviewed more companies below but these companies stood out for specific instances. Best overall: College AveBest for cosigners: Sallie MaeBest for soft credit check: Ascent Being a nurse is a rewarding profession, but paying for nursing school can be a challenge—especially if you don’t have a lot of money saved up. There are two main student loan types you can choose from to help pay for nursing school: federal and private. Federal loans often offer better borrower protections and lower interest rates, but there are limits to how much you can borrow. Federal loans may also have easier eligibility criteria, while private loans often require a cosigner. Read below to learn how to compare the two options and decide which one makes sense for you. In this guide: Federal student loan options for nursesBest private student loans for nursesHow to get loans for nursing schoolFrequently asked questions about student loans for nursing school Federal student loan options for nurses When you’re borrowing money for a degree, you should first consider federal student loans. Federal loans tend to have low interest rates and other perks, like income-driven repayment options, long deferment periods, and loan forgiveness programs. To qualify for federal student loans, you have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will tell you what kind of federal loans you’re eligible for. You may also qualify for grants, scholarships, and work-study. There are three main types of federal student loans you can qualify for, depending on whether you’re getting an undergraduate or graduate nursing degree. Undergraduate students can qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan or Direct Unsubsidized Loan, depending on their financial situation. Graduate students can qualify for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan or a Direct PLUS loan, also known as a Grad PLUS loan. Each loan type has its own federal limits, depending on your student status. Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Most students will be eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans, while Direct Subsidized Loans are only offered to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. There is a $23,000 Direct Subsidized Loan limit for undergraduate students; graduate students are not eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans. Direct Subsidized Loans don’t charge interest while you’re in school. There is a $57,500 Direct Unsubsidized Loan limit for undergraduate students and a $138,500 limit for Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate students. Once you’ve reached that limit, you should consider PLUS loans. Here is some information about Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Interest rates: 4.99% for undergraduate students and 6.54% for graduate studentsInterest type: FixedEligibility: Based on school and program. There is no credit score requirement. Subsidized loan eligibility is based on financial need.Loan amounts: Up to $138,500Repayment terms: 10 – 25 yearsGrace period: 6 monthsLearn more Direct PLUS Loans Most graduate nursing students will also be eligible for Grad PLUS Loans. These loans have higher interest rates than Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans but are a good choice because they have the same repayment benefits as other federal loans. Parents of undergraduate nursing students can also apply for Parent PLUS Loans to help their children cover education expenses. Parents of graduate students are not eligible for Parent PLUS loans. Here’s some information about Direct PLUS loans: Interest rate: 7.54%Interest type: FixedEligibility: Based on school and program. There is no credit score requirement, but they will check your credit report for an adverse credit history.Loan amounts: The annual cost of attendance minus other financial aidRepayment terms: 10 – 25 yearsGrace period: 6 months HRSA Health Professions Student Loans The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is another potential source of loans for nursing students. The HRSA partners with schools to offer loans to students pursuing careers in medicine, including nursing. It has specialized loans for nursing students at reasonable rates. Because the HRSA partners with schools to offer loans, you can work directly with your school to ask about eligibility and apply. These loans can pay up to 85% of student debt if you work in a high-need area. Student loans are also offered for those pursuing associate, undergraduate, or graduate degrees. Here’s more information about these loans: Interest rate: 5%Interest type: FixedEligibility: Based on school and programLoan amount: Up to $5,200Repayment terms: Up to 10 yearsGrace period: 9 monthsLearn more & apply Best private student loans for nurses If federal loans aren’t enough to cover your education expenses, you can turn to private lenders. However, there are a few drawbacks to using private loans. First, you have to qualify for private student loans. If you have poor credit, you may only qualify for loans with high interest rates—if you can get approved at all. Many applicants will need to add a cosigner to qualify. Here are our top picks for private loans for nursing school. College Ave View Rates Editorial Selection: Best Overall Choose between 20 different repayment schedulesDefer payment during residencyApply in just 3 minutes College Ave is an online lender that focuses specifically on providing student loans to students and parents. The lender offers multiple loans that can be used for medical degrees, including its standard graduate student loan, medical school loan, and health professions student loan. Here’s some information about its Health Professions Student Loan: Fixed rates (APR): 3.99% – 11.46%Variable rates (APR): 1.99% – 10.45%Loan amounts: $1,000 – $150,000Repayment term: 5, 8, 10, 15, or 20 yearsRate reduction: 0.25% discount for automatic paymentsFees: No origination feesIn-school repayment: Deferred payments, $25 monthly payments, interest-only payments, and full principal and interest paymentsGrace period: 9 months What stands out about College Ave’s nursing school loan If you participate in a fellowship or residency after you graduate, you’ll be eligible for 48 months of deferment. This may not apply to most nursing students, but it’s something to consider if you plan on taking any kind of fellowship. College Ave offers a wide variety of repayment terms, so borrowers can pick the loan and monthly payment that fits their post-grad budget best. Who’s eligible for College Ave’s nursing school loan Students need to have a valid Social Security number. International students will need to add a U.S. cosigner to qualify. Most other students will also need a cosigner unless they can meet the credit score and income requirements. Earnest View Rates Editorial Selection: Best for Skipping a Payment Skip a payment once per year, if neededNo feesCheck your rate without impacting your credit Earnest offers loans specifically for students pursuing medical careers, including nursing. You get a grace period of nine months after leaving school before you have to make payments, which is longer than what the federal government offers. Fixed rates (APR): 3.24% – 12.78%Variable rates (APR): 1.34% – 11.44%Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of the total cost of attendanceRepayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 yearsRate reduction: 0.25% interest rate discount for automatic paymentsFees: No prepayment, origination, or late feesIn-school repayment: Deferred payments, $25 monthly payments, interest-only payments, and full principal and interest paymentsGrace period: 9 months What stands out about Earnest’s nursing school loan Earnest lets borrowers skip one payment a year. There is no fee to do this, and this program is available for any borrower. This provides more flexibility for borrowers, who can use the funds to save for a short-term goal, put toward high-interest debt, or pay other bills. Earnest does not charge any late fees, while most other lenders do. It also offers a nine-month grace period and doesn’t charge application, origination, or prepayment fees. Who’s eligible for Earnest’s nursing school loan Only full-time nursing students are eligible. You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Sallie Mae View Rates Editorial Selection: Best for Cosigners Shortest cosigner release period available48-month deferment during your internship and fellowshipAvailable for less than half-time enrollment Sallie Mae offers many types of student loans, including the Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professions. The loan can cover all of your school-certified expenses and offers a lengthy deferment period of 48 months during internship or fellowship. Fixed rates (APR): 4.25% – 12.92%Variable rates (APR): 2.50% – 12.22%Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendanceRepayment terms: 15 yearsRate reduction: 0.25% discount for automatic payments, 0.25% discount for in-school $25 monthly payments, and a 0.50% discount for in-school interest-only paymentsFees: No origination or prepayment penaltiesIn-school repayment: Deferred payments, $25 monthly payments, and interest-only paymentsGrace period: 6 months What stands out about Sallie Mae’s nursing school loan Sallie Mae offers extra incentives for students who can afford to make payments while they’re enrolled. Students who can do this will save the most on total interest. Sallie Mae also has a generous cosigner release program. After 12 months of on-time principal and interest payments, you can remove the cosigner from the loan. This is more flexible than what other lenders offer. Who’s eligible for Sallie Mae’s nursing school loan Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Borrowers can be attending nursing school for less than part-time and still qualify for a loan. SoFi View Rates Editorial Selection: Best for Career Services Get access to career services, financial advisors, and moreNo feesCheck your rate without impacting your credit SoFi’s Health Professions Loans are available for graduate nursing students, as well as other graduate medical students. There are no fees, and students can gain access to career services at no extra cost. Fixed rates (APR): 4.50% – 13.35%Variable rates (APR): 2.99% – 12.13%Loan amounts: $1,000 – 100% of the school-certified cost of attendanceRepayment terms: 5, 7, 10, or 15 yearsRate reduction: 0.25% discount for automatic paymentsFees: No application, origination, or late feesIn-school repayment: Full, interest-only, flat $25, or deferredGrace period: 9 months for Health Professions What stands out about SoFi’s nursing school loan SoFi offers exclusive member benefits like access to financial advisors, career services, and more. There are no fees and the entire process can be completed online in just a few minutes. Who’s eligible for SoFi’s nursing school loan Students must be attending school at least part-time to qualify and must be making satisfactory academic progress. They must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. International students will require a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students can add a cosigner if they don’t pass a credit check. Ascent View Rates Editorial Selection: Best for Eligibility Receive 1% cash back when you graduateNo fees for paying off your loan earlyCheck your rate without impacting your credit Ascent’s graduate school loan is available for nursing students as well as other graduate students. Borrowers can receive 1% back from their loan with proof of graduation and there is a rate discount for making automatic payments. Fixed rates (APR): 3.27% – 14.75%Variable rates (APR): 0.98% – 11.80%Loan amounts: $2,001* – $200,000Repayment terms: 7, 10, 12, or 15 yearsRate reduction: 0.25% interest rate discount for automatic paymentsFees: No application, origination, or prepayment feesIn-school repayment: Deferred payments, $25 monthly payments, and interest-only paymentsGrace period: 9 months * Minimum of $6,001 for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address. What stands out about Ascent’s nursing school loan Ascent offers a nine-month grace period, during which time you do not have to make any payments. There is also a 36-month in-school deferment period. Students can get prequalified for a loan without it impacting their credit. Students will also be able to get a loan without a cosigner, as long as their credit score and income meet the minimum requirements. Who’s eligible for Ascent’s nursing school loan Graduate students who are enrolled at least part-time in an approved institution will be eligible. Students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. How to get loans for nursing school Applying for student loans for nursing school isn’t complicated, but there are some specific steps to follow. Here’s how to get funding for nursing school: Fill out the FAFSA. The first step to getting federal student loans is to complete the FAFSA and submit it by the school’s deadline. The FAFSA is necessary to qualify for all types of federal student loans.Receive your award letter. Once you’ve submitted the FAFSA, the school’s financial aid department will review the results and determine what you qualify for. You’ll get your results in an award letter, which will show the total amount you qualify for.Determine if you need more aid. If you still need more financial aid or you want to explore other options, you can apply for a private student loan.Choose a private student loan. Private student loan companies vary wildly, and you should compare interest rates, repayment terms, in-school repayment options, and fees. Make sure to consider the perks and downsides of choosing a private loan instead of a federal loan. Frequently asked questions about student loans for nursing school Which nursing school loan is the best? Picking a nursing school loan depends on what you qualify for. If you’re eligible for federal student loans, these are usually best because they offer more repayment options, lower interest rates, loan forgiveness plans, and longer forbearance periods. However, if you don’t qualify for federal loans, then a private student loan may be your only option. Do I need a cosigner for nursing school loans? If you’re taking out a federal student loan, you will usually not need a cosigner. However, if you’re taking out a Grad PLUS loan and have an adverse event on your credit report, you may need to add an endorser, which is similar to a cosigner. Many private loans will require a cosigner, unless you have good credit and a steady income on your own. Do nursing school loans cover living expenses? Nursing school loans may cover the cost of attendance, which includes living expenses. However, if your living expenses are higher than the school’s stated average, then you’ll have to find another way to cover the cost. How much can I borrow with nursing student loans? The amount you can borrow depends on the type of loan. Most graduate loans will let you borrow up to the annual cost of attendance, but some undergraduate loans will have lower limits. When does repayment on nursing school loans start? Repayment varies depending on the type of loan you have. If you have federal student loans, repayment will begin six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below part-time status. If you have private student loans, repayment will vary depending on your specific lender’s policy. In general, grace periods from private lenders range from six to nine months. Are there any other programs that help pay for nursing school? Nursing school students may qualify for grants and scholarships. You may also be eligible for loan forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The federal government also offers loan repayment programs where nurses can work in an underserved community for a certain number of years in exchange for having some of their loans forgiven. Always focus on getting federal loans first and then searching for non-profit nursing programs to qualify for PSLF before turning to private student loans.