Student Loan Debt

by Darleen Molina

Paying off Student Loan Debt - Registered Nurse/Graduate Student - I can remember the day ever so clearly. My parents and friends were in the audience and I was ready to walk the stage at my nursing graduation in 2003. I had a full career ahead of me as a registered nurse. I was excited to earn my first real paycheck as a professional. What I wasn’t ready for was the amount of student loan debt I was left with to start repaying 6 months after graduation.

I was the second in my family to attend college and graduate. Neither of my parents attended college and were unaware of the task behind researching Scholarships and Grants for College. I filled out my FAFSA on my own and was able to receive some aid through them but was left with loans to cover the rest of my tuition bill. The university I graduated from paid my Federal Perkins Loan because I continued a full-time career as an RN for the following consecutive 5 years. It was considered what is called a student forgiveness loan . My Stafford Loan had a 3% interest rate and I began repayment of this loan 6 months after graduation.

My goal was to pay off my Stafford Loan debt as soon as possible. I doubled and sometimes even tripled my monthly payments no matter what financial crisis came my way. I was able to pay off my student loan debt of $42,000 in 7 years. This may sound like a long time but my brother who graduated in 1998 from college is still paying off his student loans today. In order to receive forgiveness for my Perkins Loan, I had to submit proof every year to the school I graduated from that I was a continued full-time employee as an RN to receive repayment.

I have been an RN for over 8 years now and have never had a regret or doubt about my chosen career path. I do have regrets though about not researching scholarships that could have helped pay for my undergraduate degree. I am currently enrolled in a Graduate Nurse Practitioner Program and plan to do my part this time in looking for assistance to continue my education and career. I have used the Internet to look for graduate nursing scholarships and am amazed at all of the variety of scholarships offered. I have also used my school’s assistance to help me find scholarships and grants that suit myself and my career path. The great part about using the Internet is that you submit everything online so it can be quick and easy.

My advice to students and parents is to sacrifice early on and tackle those student loans. Ask questions about low interest rates and loan forgiveness programs. Make a plan and stick to it and you will see that student loan balance reach $0 before you know it. Also take the time and risk to research and apply for scholarships. There is nothing to lose but instead you have everything to gain. You will be grateful years down the line when you are about to walk that stage student
loan debt free and receive that well earned degree.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Darleen for sharing tips on paying off student loan debt. We agree that the best way is to pay off your student loans early, and take advantage of low interest loans, federal loan consolidation programs, and loan forgiveness. Applying for scholarships is a great way to minimize student loan debt from the beginning. Good luck to you.

Paying Off Student Loans Nursing Students

(by Sheri, Kansas)

In my research for how to pay for college through scholarships, grants and loans I found programs which offer nursing students a way to pay off their student loans after graduation. These programs were found by searching under student loan repayment program. Several states participate in such programs for nurses since there is such a shortage in nurses in some communities right now.

In my research I found that the state of Kansas offers such a program for paying off student loan debt. This program requires participants to sign a minimum of a 2-year contract to provide health care service in underserved areas of Kansas. In exchange the participant will have 60 % of their student loans paid for with an optional 3rd year of service where participants may receive 25% more paid. In addition to the loan repayment the participant is also paid a salary and benefits through the employing facility.

I have worked with a nurse who took advantage of a similar program through a traveling nurse program. She went to work in Hawaii, which has the highest shortage of nurses in the United States. The organization she worked for paid off her student loans, paid her a significant salary as well as living expenses and a one time sign-on bonus in exchange for a 2-year commitment from her.

I don’t know about you but if someone wants to pay off my student loans, pay my a significant sign-on bonus, a nice salary and living expenses for me to work in Hawaii for a couple of years I don’t think I will be complaining. In fact in my research I found that the top 4 states with a nursing shortage are Hawaii, California, Nevada and Florida. One of those is an island and two others are coastal states. I don’t think you can beat the location possibilities.

You cannot apply for these programs until you have graduated and they only accept participants once a year so you need to plan ahead and make sure you submit your application in a timely manner.

Read more tips on How to pay off student loan debt from other students and parents who have been through the student loan process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Sheri for sharing some great advice for students. If you choose a career like nursing where there are good job opportunities, you may be able to get help to pay off your student loans after graduation. Good luck to you.

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