Advice about accumulating debt or waiting a year to go to a cheaper NP program

  1. Hi to all those practicing NPs out there!

    I am going to be starting an NP program in the fall that will ultimately cost me 100K in tuition alone, and probably 15-25K more for housing, travel, etc. Given what you know now as practicing NPs (hindsight in terms of salary potential, graduating faster, opportunities in the field, continuing education, learning environment, professional work, etc) would you incur this sort of debt to become an NP? The school is very well known and i'm sure it might carry some clout when applying for a job, but not sure how much. The program is quick and fast--only 2 years in length. So is it beneficial to finish faster, be able to work as an NP and therefore potentially have a higher earning potential faster to pay off the loans?

    The other thing that i'm thinking about as well is that I will need to find my own preceptors. I don't know how stressful and time consuming and in the end beneficial this will be for me. How do i know the person i pick will be a good teacher and have the patience to work with students and actually enjoy it? We only do 2 rotations in our program as well if we are in specialized NP program. How much exposure does this give me?

    My other option is to wait a year and hope that I can get into my state program. It will be a 3 year program instead of 2. So ultimately it will be 4 years from now instead of 2 that i will be completed with my program. Time doesn't matter as much as debt, but I do think about it too. I will be able to work during my last year and half in the program. But its a "what if" situation (also depends on funding if the school can follow through with offering this program and they won't know until very last minute). This program in total will only cost me 40K, probably quarter of which I could pay out of pocket.

    I want to understand the ramifications of accumulating this debt especially because of the other options I have. I also am fully aware that as an NP my earning potential is not as much as an MD so going into this blinding thinking that oh yea, i'll be able to pay off this debt in a matter of 20 or so years making not as much as I anticipated also plays a role.

    To those with NP work experience, and or those who have in been in the field recently paying off debt, or otherwise have advice to provide, I would like some insight and feedback about the situation! What would you do or have done if you could do it all over again?

    Thank you.
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    About danceluver

    Joined: Jul '10; Posts: 654; Likes: 33


  3. by   harmonizer
    danceluver, I would wait a year and go to state or cheaper school.
    As a new grad NP looking for job right now, I can tell you that NP does not earn much more than RN starting out (esp RN in float pool or critical care) or even less. Personally, I don't think NP do not get a fair pay at all considering how much cost-saving they can bring to an organization. And who know what the salary will be like if the schools do not limit the number of enrollment to prevent oversaturation.

    $100,000 is excessive for NP school regardless of the reputation of the school. That's amount of debt for medical or pharmacy school. And you don't want the stress of finding job while having hugh amount "loan" chasing you.

    If I were you, I would wait for a year and get into a local well-known state school. Yes, people said that you can participate in NSHC program to help with loan repayment but then the employment will be restricted to rural or "possibly" undesirable area.

    But it's your choice! It's just my opinion.
    Last edit by harmonizer on Jul 1, '12
  4. by   danceluver
    Thank you for your opinion harmonizer! Its really justified and well thought out and very valuable to me to since you are a new grad. I hope more people respond
  5. by   BlueDevil,DNP
    Depending on so many variables, I may or may not defer matriculation. I would make the decision based foremost on the end outcome *I* have always aimed for, which is a very comfortable retirement. You may have different priorities. I know that I am not savvy enough with all the ins and outs of the financial markets to make choices without expert advice and I am frequently surprised by the advice our financial guys give us. It is just too complex, and IIWY, I'd get input from a tax expert and a financial planner about managing the debt. There are a lot of creative ways to do it if you know what you are doing, and if you happen to practice in an area where you might earn a good enough income, it might pay off. I don't know that, but you should find out.

    I don't think it is a straight forward answer. If I were you, I'd go sit down with your investment banker and financial planner. For instance: Are you married/single? How old are you, how much do you have saved for retirement? In what type of plan(s)? At what kind of return? How much debt do you have now? Do you have children? Do you have enough saved for their education? How much equity do you have in your home? Is it appropriately financed at this time? (rhetorical questions, plese don't answer them here, lol)

    It just isn't as simple as debt vs. salary. You need to have an expert sit down and look at your portfolio with you and help you plan for the long term with an eye on amortization, tax benefits, investments, long term goals, etc.

    You also need to consider the fact that you have already been accepted to one school, and competition gets stiffer every year, and competition to less expensive programs is even more competitive for obvious reasons. I can't answer the questions about the quality of preceptors available to you, only you can do that.

    You definitely need to do some research into salary trends for APNs in the area where you want to practice, as it varies widely. In some places there is not a stark difference between RN and NP earnings, and in some places NPs can command very impressive salaries. There are also a variety of repayment options with varying degrees of attractiveness, depending on your circumstances.

    good luck
  6. by   BCgradnurse
    Can you defer your matriculation to the expensive school for 1 year while you see if you are admitted to your state program? That way, if things don't work out with the less expensive program, all you've lost is some time. I think seeing a financial planner is a very smart idea.
  7. by   myelin
    I agree with the previous posters that it really depends on a lot of variables that you should consider carefully. Do you have kids? A mortgage? Do you have any debt already?

    All of the nursing programs I was admitted to had 6 figure debt (there were direct entry MSN programs). Tuition is increasing substantially each year, so do not assume that the in-state program's tuition will be the same next year. My program is public and our tuition went up 15k this year. Yes, it's crazy.

    I decided to take on the debt because I am young and single. I don't have kids, a house, or any debt. For these reasons, I've decided to do it. I also plan on living extremely frugally once I graduate in order to pay down my loans ASAP. I'm also planning on applying for loan forgiveness and will start aggressively looking for a RN or RA job my second year.
  8. by   danceluver
    yea, i'm fairly young as well--no family, not a homeowner, no previous credit problems, etc. Free as a bird right now. But I guess how my program requires me to find preceptors is a bit scary because of the lack of quality control and the fact that i will be a distance student 2nd year, having very few face to face contact with my professors during the 2nd year of the program. I am also a direct entry student like myelin. I keep reading different articles about the earning potential of NPs in the various areas I would consider living in, loan repayment, etc? I think it may work now, but will it in the future. Yes, very grateful that I was accepted, i guess I feel i just want something more and trying to reach out and ask for advice if I considered all the ramifications appropriately and fairly. I am very blessed to have this opportunity and would never make a rash decision and jeopardize my dream job working as an NP.

    Any other comments, advice welcome
  9. by   myelin
    your program forces you to find your own preceptors? That is utterly ridiculous. That would cause me to immediately cross that program off my list.
  10. by   LiLoRN
    Unless it's an Ivy League school and having a diploma from such a school matters to you, I wouldn't do it. I attend a state university and I am swimming in debt already. I shudder to think about repaying it. Yes, you are young, which is all the more reason why an extra year in school isn't such a bad thing. Good luck with your decision!