Should I Go into Debt for Nursing School?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have gone through a long and tough road on the pathway to nursing. I never realized how difficult it was to get into a program in order to get my nursing career started.
    Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way and at 26 I have finally been accepted into a program.

    However, this program is an accelerated for-profit university and the prices are ridiculous! I have nearly maxed out all of my financial aid assistance, and will now have to rely on private loans. By the time I finish the program, I will be over $100k in debt and this will only be for my Bachelor's degree. My question is although I've always wanted to become a nurse, is it worth being in serious debt?

    The interests rate on these loans are unbelievable and I don't want to live my life with the burden of paying off this unreasonable amount of student debt. I've tried the ADN route but I was denied acceptance in those programs. My grades aren't horrible at all, but it seems that each year the required GPA of potential students are higher and higher. I don't feel like I deserve this but unfortunately, this is the cards that I'm dealt with.

    My questions again are do you think I should or shouldn't attend this for profit program that will leave me with frightening debt? And should I consider a different career in the health care field? Since things are clearly not working out in Nursing. Thanks



    Dear Is Nursing School Worth 100K in Debt,

    That's a serious consideration and a lot of debt. It sounds like you are already in debt for schooling (you must have a Bachelor's degree to qualify for an accelerated program) and now you need to fund nursing school.

    Depending where you live, and given your age (still young), you can make a good living as an RN. If, as you say, this program is your only option, then you could instead look at ways to pay off loans once you graduate. There are ways to pay back or forgive student loans. You could consider the military or the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment. Check out the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment NHSC Jobs Center for specifics.

    You might consider working for a time and putting your nursing career on the back burner while you re-evaluate your financial situation.

    The variable we can't quantify here is how badly you want to be an RN. If it's your life dream, will you always have regrets if you don't go for it? Or is this life telling you to go a different direction? The answer does lie within you.


    Best wishes on your decision.


    Nurse Beth



    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Mar 29
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,319; Likes: 3,958

    15 Comments

  3. by   llg
    Without knowing the quality of the school you are considering and where you live and the likelihood that your salary as a new grad RN will allow you to pay off such a big debt in a reasonable amount of time ... I'd advise you to look LONG and HARD for another way. I would choose the route you are heading in only if you really had no other options.

    Most financial experts recommend that your total student loans should not exceed your first year's salary as a new grad. Try to stay under that mark if at all possible -- even if it means delaying your education for a year or two -- or moving to another area for school.
  4. by   Neo Soldier
    I wouldn't recommend it. I actually wouldn't recommend a for profit school either.
    Nursing is a great career to get into but you shouldn't spend that much to get it. Many community colleges use the point system and they look similar. They give you points for working as a CNA, having 2 years of a foreign language, passing the TEAS, having financial difficulty and so on. When applying to community colleges, apply to multiple. If you have to, retake some classes to increase your GPA. Do this with discretion if you must.
    I don't know how realistic my advice is because I don't know your entire situation but I wouldn't take on that much debt.
  5. by   headofcurls
    No way. There's always another route and I think you should be patient and investigate more. Loan payments are very real and as you've already said with the interest, your loan will be much more than 100k. It would definitely be a burden.
  6. by   turtlesRcool
    Nurses make pretty good money (in many areas), but we don't make AMAZING money. I wouldn't go $100K in debt for a BSN. It's not just the $100K you borrowed, but the interest on it. You'll be paying that off for decades. That's a mortgage payment.

    I know it probably doesn't feel like it, but at 26 you really are quite young. You have other options. How much exploring have you done into other programs? Is there a community college that will allow you to get your RN inexpensively? You say the GPA seems to get higher each year for admission, but is your local CC the only one you've looked at? Can you relocate? Cast a wide net. I went through a state university, and my accelerated BSN program was under $30k. I was also admitted to a community college ADN program that would have been about $8k (total for two years). Alternately, I know some people who have retaken key prerequisite courses to boost their GPA (some schools only count the nursing prerequisites, so it's fairly easy to improve nursing GPA for admission).

    Obviously, I don't know your whole situation, but taking another year or two to work, save, and possibly establish residency in another area with good public options for nursing school can pay off big time down the road.
    Last edit by turtlesRcool on Mar 30
  7. by   chacha82
    Since you asked.....NO. Especially not if you have consumer debt or other school debt. As previous posters said, the interest alone this type of debt generates is reason enough to say no. I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: overtime is not available in every position. Many nursing students post here and reason that they will work overtime for awhile to pay off school debt. That's not a bad plan, but it doesn't always come to fruition. You have to get to the job first and get through orientation. I'm in a position currently that doesn't offer overtime. If I had counted on it to pay off loans, I'd be up the creek. Look for other ways to be a nurse, or work and save up money for tuition.
  8. by   Mavrick
    Quote from Nurse Beth
    Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have gone through a long and tough road on the pathway to nursing. I never realized how difficult it was to get into a program in order to get my nursing career started.
    Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way and at 26 I have finally been accepted into a program.

    However, this program is an accelerated for-profit university and the prices are ridiculous! I have nearly maxed out all of my financial aid assistance, and will now have to rely on private loans. By the time I finish the program, I will be over $100k in debt and this will only be for my Bachelor's degree. My question is although I've always wanted to become a nurse, is it worth being in serious debt?

    The interests rate on these loans are unbelievable and I don't want to live my life with the burden of paying off this unreasonable amount of student debt. I've tried the ADN route but I was denied acceptance in those programs. My grades aren't horrible at all, but it seems that each year the required GPA of potential students are higher and higher. I don't feel like I deserve this but unfortunately, this is the cards that I'm dealt with.

    My questions again are do you think I should or shouldn't attend this for profit program that will leave me with frightening debt? And should I consider a different career in the health care field? Since things are clearly not working out in Nursing. Thanks



    Dear Is Nursing School Worth 100K in Debt,

    That's a serious consideration and a lot of debt. It sounds like you are already in debt for schooling (you must have a Bachelor's degree to qualify for an accelerated program) and now you need to fund nursing school.

    Depending where you live, and given your age (still young), you can make a good living as an RN. If, as you say, this program is your only option, then you could instead look at ways to pay off loans once you graduate. There are ways to pay back or forgive student loans. You could consider the military or the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment. Check out the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment NHSC Jobs Center for specifics.

    You might consider working for a time and putting your nursing career on the back burner while you re-evaluate your financial situation.

    The variable we can't quantify here is how badly you want to be an RN. If it's your life dream, will you always have regrets if you don't go for it? Or is this life telling you to go a different direction? The answer does lie within you.

    Best wishes on your decision.

    Nurse Beth

    If this is true for you then NO, NO, NO.

    Having that much debt will adversely affect every decision you make. You will be desperate for a job to start paying it back and will be much tempted to take any ole position. Then you will be stuck with a job you hate and can't quit because of your debt load.

    If you want to get married, you bring that debt to your relationship and a smart partner will want you to pay it off or get a pre-nuptial agreement to keep them out your self-induced financial quicksand. You won't able to adequately provide for kids or take time off from work to parent them.

    You are trying to push too hard for something you are just not ready for. Those for-profit schools will take your money without any regard for how you will pay it off.

    You can still have a wonderful nursing career though. Really search for a community college and work your tail off to meet their entrance requirements. Move to establish residency. Find affordable housing and a reliable vehicle. Work and save as much as you can while waiting for acceptance into a nursing program. Getting yourself organized is as essential a pre-req as any class you will take.
  9. by   Ddestiny
    I can see why someone with a Bachelor's degree would want their nursing degree to also be a Bachelor's degree, but this is not a requirement. It may behoove you to consider getting an Associate's degree from a non-profit tech school or community college, especially if your locale doesn't tend to require BSNs (i.e. midwest states). This will let you start working in about the same time frame and with MUCH less debt. Then you can get that RN paycheck while completing BSN classes online when you're ready, paying towards a smaller balance of accumulated loans.

    I have bridged each step of the way and in my LPN cohort was a woman that had a Master's Degree in something else, but was starting "back at the bottom" in healthcare. She later bridged to the ADN. She didn't seem too concerned about the disparity and she's still enjoying her second career. And given that she saved a lot of money doing it this way and didn't have to live under a burden of horrible debt, it sounds like the smart thing to do.
  10. by   MiladyMalarkey
    Being 26 is still fairly young & gives a bit of time to continue trying to get into a reputable & affordable program. When I saw the headline of going into debt, I shrugged & thought while not my first choice, incurring some debt isn't too bad since a fairly decent living can be earned, but $100k? I can not justify that as a means to this end. I'd like to eventually enjoy some of my income before I'd have to retire.
  11. by   Alex_RN
    Are you sure this for-profit school is your only option? I went to a very expensive for-profit because it was my only option at the time. I don't regret it though I did not know what I was doing at the time. I wished I had researched other options. The education was sub-par and a one of the major health systems would not consider new grads from that program but I passed the NCLEX and did get a job, as did all of my friends.

    WARNING: These private loans are usually NOT eligible for loan forgiveness under the programs you may hear about. I refinanced my high-interest loans after a year of working.

    I know a family where multiple members went to our expensive for-profit. After they started working, they stayed at home and worked a ton of overtime and they all paid off a lot of the debt in a few years, but that was hard and exhausting.

    I know another family where sisters moved to another state, where the programs were not as impacted.

    I was not in a position to wait for a better program and I had some resources so it worked out, though I wish I had a better quality education.
    Last edit by Alex_RN on Apr 3
  12. by   not.done.yet
    $100K is an INSANE amount of debt for a nursing degree. Add to this that many to most "for profit" schools lack accreditation, have poor reputations and poor NCLEX pass rates. What if you cannot finish the program? You definitely will not get a job that will pay enough to support your excessive debt load. If you want to be a nurse, find a smarter way. Let that be your first critical thinking exercise.

    I wish you well.
  13. by   mani96
    I do not recommend going into debt for nursing school. I went 75K into debt for my accelerated BSN and I have been regretting it since. I made the decision
    at the time because I was also being continually wait-listed for CC programs in my area; plus, I thought it would pay off because I went to a well known private university on the East Coast. I moved back to CA and nobody cares about my degree from my fancy school; I make exactly the same as the ADN RNs. I just think if you persist and continue applying, OR, relocate to a less saturated area, you'll get into a cheaper program. It's not worth it to go into that much debt for school.
  14. by   dodah677
    Have you thought about becoming a Radiology Tech. Lots of areas to get further certifications and some of your pre-reqs may have already been done. Some places the starting salary is the same as a new grad RN.

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