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Best student loans for nursing school

Private and federal options to finance your RN or BSN degree.


Fact checked

The cost of becoming a nurse can range anywhere from $40,000 to upwards of $100,000 depending on whether you’re interested in getting your associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree. Fortunately, you have both federal and private student loan options that can help you pay for it.

How we picked these loans

When selecting the best student loans for nursing school, we looked for options that fit a variety of students. We also took rates, repayment plans and eligibility requirements into consideration when choosing our top picks.

HRSA Nursing Student Loan Program: Best for low-income students

  • Loan amounts: Up to $3,300 or $5,200 per year — depending on your year of study
  • Fixed interest rate: 5%
  • Terms: 10 years
  • Eligibility requirements: US citizen, national or permanent resident, enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a full-time or half-time student at a participating nursing school, maintain good academic standing in a program leading to an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree, demonstrate financial need based on the FAFSA

The Heath Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers low-interest loans to nursing students at participating schools who demonstrate financial need. While you probably won’t be able to cover your full program, it could help you make a dent in your school’s cost of attendance, with a lifetime borrowing limit of $17,000. While terms are relatively short at just 10 years, you have the option to defer repayments if you decide to go back to school. And you might qualify for an extended repayment plan if you face a financial setback.

Discover undergraduate student loans: Best for multi-year approval

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Fixed APRs: 4.74% to 12.49% APR with discounts
  • Variable APRs: 3.12% to 11.62% APR with discounts
  • Term: 15 years
  • Eligibility requirements: US citizen, permanent resident or international student with a qualifying cosigner, enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor’s or associate degree program at an eligible school, make satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school, at least 16 years old, pass a credit check or have a qualifying cosigner

Discover’s undergraduate student loans are ideal if you’d like to fund your full nursing degree in one fell swoop. Its multi-year approval option allows you to prequalify for future funds — so you can skip applying each year. Its loans also come with no fees and a cashback reward if you maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Wells Fargo undergraduate student loans: Best for part-time students

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Fixed APRs: 4.99% to 10.72% with discounts
  • Variable APRs: 4.33% to 10.3% with discounts
  • Term: 15 or 20 years
  • Eligibility requirements: US citizen, national, permanent resident or international student, enrolled as an undergraduate student at an eligible school, seeking a degree, certificate or license, meet income and credit requirements or have a qualifying cosigner

Wells Fargo stands out from other lenders with the flexibility of offering financing to part-time students. Part-time nursing students who work could qualify for loans with high lending limits, competitive interest rates and terms as long as 20 years

Federal loan options for nursing school

Aside from the HRSA’s Nursing Student Loan Program, the Department of Education (DoE) also offers federal loans that nursing students can use to help fund their degree.

Annual limitLifetime limitInterest rateOrigination feeTerms
Direct Subsidized LoansDependent and independent students:

  • Year 1: $3,500
  • Year 2: $4,500
  • Years 3+: $5,500
Dependent and independent students: $23,0002.75% 1.059%
  • Deferred repayments during school and six months after you graduate.
  • The DoE covers any interest that accrues while you’re in school and during your grace period.
  • Standard repayment term of 10 years, with options for income-based and extended repayment plans up to 25 years.
Direct Unsubsidized LoansDependent students:

  • Year 1: $5,500
  • Year 2: $6,500
  • Years 3+: $7,500

Independent students:

  • Year 1: $9,500
  • Year 2: $10,500
  • Years 3+: $12,500
Dependent students: $31,000
Independent students: $57,000
2.75% 1.059%
  • Deferred repayments during school and six months after you graduate.
  • Interest accrues while you’re in school and during your grace period and is added to your loan principal.
  • Standard repayment term of 10 years, with options for income-based and extended repayment plans up to 25 years.

Qualify for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines if you’re a dependent or independent student and your current grade level determines your funding limits.

Federal loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than private loans, so try applying for federal loans before turning to private lenders.

Compare other private student loans for nursing school

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Ascent private student loans
2.71% to 12.99%
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.07% to 9%
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
LendKey Private Student Loans
Varies by lender
4.99% to 11.06%
This connection service partners with Sallie Mae and WSFS Bank to offer competitive rates.
 Advantage Education Loan Refinance Loan
Starting at 3.74%
Refinance to a more flexible repayment plan with this nonprofit lender.
Alliant Credit Union Traditional Student Loan
Starting at 4.56%
All-purpose personal loans from @pl_product_min_loan_amount@ to @pl_product_max_loan_amount@ with rates that stop at @pl_product_var_rate@.
ChangEd student loan payment app
Securely connect all of your student loans and bank accounts to one place for a painless repayment experience.
Chicago student loans
Cost of attendance, up to $50,000
7.53% to 8.85%
No cosigner needed for this fixed-rate financing option.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loans
1.25% to 10.57%

Compare up to 4 providers

Alternative ways to pay for nursing school

If you’re trying to avoid loans completely, here are some alternative ways to pay for nursing school:

  • Private scholarships. Available through private organizations as well as your school, scholarships are ideal since they don’t have to be repaid. You can find scholarships that are based on financial need, academics or tailored to your area of study.
  • Federal Pell Grant. The Federal Pell Grant is awarded through the DoE to students who demonstrate financial need. You’re automatically considered for it when you submit the FAFSA. How much you qualify for is determined by your expected family contribution, enrollment status and your school’s cost of attendance.
  • Employer tuition reimbursement. Since nurses are in such high demand, many hospitals have started offering tuition reimbursement programs to help offset the cost — especially for current registered nurses looking to go back to school to get their bachelor’s degree.
  • Loan forgiveness programs. If you do end up taking out loans to cover your nursing degree, there are a variety of student loan forgiveness programs available to nurses working in low-income communities.

Bottom line

Whether you’re looking for student loans for nursing school with low starting rates or multi-year approval, you’ve got options. Begin with your federal options that come with more flexible repayment plans before turning to private lenders.

You can learn more about how it all works by reading our guide to student loans.

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