Federal vs Private Student Loans: How to Pay for Nursing School

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Before You Read, Lower Your Student Payment

It’s that quick & easy — really. Our free tool checks a network of top refinance lenders and shows you options in one easy chart.

Checking rates takes 2 minutes with no impact on your credit
Federal & private loans are eligible
No maximum loan amount

Considering nursing as a career? It’s more than just a noble profession.

Nursing pays well — as much as $75K to $85K to start depending on degree level and focus of expertise — and provides tons of flexibility and opportunity. 

Whether you choose to work in a hospital setting or want the more normal hours of a physician practice or outpatient facility, there are always jobs available that will fit your lifestyle. And as the general population ages and requires more healthcare, nurses will only grow in demand.

As an example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment outlook for nursing is expected to grow by 12% through 2028, which is significantly faster than an average of all occupations together. In other words, you can’t go wrong choosing a career in nursing.

What do you need to get into nursing school?

There are two types of nursing degrees available from accredited colleges and universities: 1) an Associate Degree, available through a two-year program, and 2) a Bachelor of Nursing Degree from a four-year institution.

It’s important to remember that nursing schools are highly competitive and while eligibility requirements are different at each school, here are some common criteria beyond a high school diploma:

  • Grade point average of 3.0 or better.
  • Satisfactory scores on an entrance exam, such as the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (NLN PAX), that measures your understanding of science and math, as well as verbal skills.
  • Completion of prerequisites that may include math, biology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, developmental psychology, and more.
  • Successful completion of volunteer hours within the medical field.

Let’s talk about how to afford nursing school

Like any college-level field of study, nursing school is expensive. Ideally, you want to be able to pay for nursing school with a combination of savings, scholarships, and grants. However, often a supplemental source of funding is required such as federal or private student loans.

What is a private student loan?

Private student loans are loans made by private banks and lenders that are available to people who have stable income and are creditworthy. They are a terrific source of alternative funding with interest rates and repayment terms set by the lender. You can generally choose whether you want to begin making payments while you are in school, of if you want to defer them until after graduation.

An added plus is if you’re in the process of building your credit score, you can have a cosigner on private student loans to help you qualify and be eligible for better rates.

What is a federal student loan?

Issued through the U.S. Department of Education, federal student loans are available to everyone based on financial need and don’t require a credit check. The interest rate is set annually by Congress and is often lower than the interest rates available through private lenders. 

The good news is you don’t have to make payments until after graduation (or if you cut down to half time hours at school).

Federal student loans also have additional exclusive repayment benefits including:

  • Student loan forgiveness programs — there are numerous programs that can be applied for and, under certain circumstances, all or part of your student loan debt is forgiven, canceled, or discharged. The most well known is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
  • Income-driven repayment plans — repayment is set as a percentage of your income and is intended to be affordable.
  • Generous deferment and forbearance options — the ability to temporarily suspend repayment.
  • Eligibility for government-sponsored loan repayment assistance programs — nursing graduates can opt into repayment assistance by committing to work in underserved communities for a predetermined amount of time.

How to compare private and federal student loans for nursing school

For nursing school student loans, you need to decide what your circumstances entail.

Do you want a loan that can be obtained without a credit check and repayment that can be deferred until after graduation like federal student loans?

Or do you need additional funding to afford nursing school with the help of private student loans?

To determine if private student loans are a smart option for you, a good first step is to shop around for the options you qualify for.

Try Purefy’s Compare Rates tool to see which private loan options and personalized rates you are eligible for with no impact to your credit report. From there, you can compare your private loan offers with your federal student loan options.

When private nursing school loans are a good idea

Private student loans can be a smart solution when you need additional funding support to afford your program of choice and can qualify for reasonable rates. Although they don’t come with the same repayment benefits as federal student loans, many lenders offer attractive repayment terms to borrowers. 

And remember, once you graduate, all of your loans can be refinanced to consolidate numerous federal and private loans into one convenient payment and due date. Plus, a student loan refinance can give you the opportunity to qualify for a lower interest rate post-graduation to make repayment even easier.

How to compare private student loans for nursing school

It can feel overwhelming to try to compare private student loan options. There are interest rates, fees, repayment terms, and various other features.

By using our comparison tool, you are able to see offers from vetted, reputable lenders with a simple side-by-side analysis – all at once with no impact to your credit.

Get started with student loans for nursing school

When considering nursing school, organizing your funding options will be just as important as choosing your preferred schools and curriculum. Secure your scholarships and grants first, and then supplement with federal or private student loans to move you through to graduation.

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