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Paying off student loans


Hey, guys!!!

So I'm about two weeks away from graduation (thank the lord!), but I'm graduating with about $50K worth of student debt. I went to a private university and am finishing with a BSN, so it is somewhat understandable to graduate with that much debt. While I had some scholarships, I had to support myself throughout school working full time as a nurse aide. It was quite the challenge and there were many sleepless nights, but my hard work was worth it and I don't regret my decision to become a nurse.

I've been reading a lot recently about how to pay off student debt quickly. It's my goal to pay this off within the next few years so that I can work towards being financially stable.

What are some tips that you all have for nurses (specifically) to pay off student debt?!

Live like a poor student for 2 years after you start working as an RN-put the extra money toward your student loans. Avoid the "now I have a paycheck, I deserve to spend it on whatever I want" mentality. Good Luck

Learn how to tell yourself NO! I realize that each geographic location has various challenges (high housing cost,etc), but in the end it's simple math. There's the obvious stuff like working extra shifts and things like that, but what good is it if you just blow all your money. For myself the real trick was monitoring/curbing my spending. Often times people feel that they "deserve" a new car, designer clothes, etc. While it certainly is good to reward yourself it's important to realize the power of delayed gratification and paying extra on your student loans early.

This is admittedly pretty intense but try tracking all of your spending for a few months, cash, credit cards, EVERYTHING (you can download the statements and easily put them into an excel file). I did this for over a year and it opened my eyes to how much money I spent at Starbucks, McD's, etc. The best is obviously a real budget but I found that just tracking my spending and actually seeing how much I spent changed my behavior.

Student Loan Prepayment Calculator - Pay Off Student Loans Early | Student Loan Hero is a great resource to see how adding and extra $100-$200 will shave years off of your loans and save you thousands.

Dave Ramsey quote We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

I graduated 10 years ago with about $90K in student loan debt. I have just under $33K left. I paid off all of my federal loans relatively quickly and have only private loans left. If you have any Perkins loans- a portion of them can get canceled every year that you're working as a full-time nurse, you just have to fill out a form every year. If you have extra money from holiday shifts, overtime or (in my current position) quarterly bonuses, put extra towards your loans. I probably could have had my loans paid off by now had I not bought a house 4 years after graduation but I chose to invest long-term rather than continuing to throw almost $12,000 a year at rent.

I have my monthly amount due paid several months in advance but continue to make payments every month to pay down the principal faster. (Interest keeps accruing even if you're paid several months in advance.)

Live like a poor student for 2 years after you start working as an RN-put the extra money toward your student loans. Avoid the "now I have a paycheck, I deserve to spend it on whatever I want" mentality. Good Luck

That's exactly what I did. Paid off the 70K in student loan debt in less than 2 years.


Specializes in NICU. Has 5 years experience.

Delayed gratification is the greatest gift you can give yourself financially. Pay all of your living expenses (rent, utilities, etc), then set a dollar amount that you will allow yourself to spend. The rest goes to half goes to debt and the other half goes into an emergency fund to be used in true emergencies (car breaks down, medical, etc). As a PP said "live like a poor person for 2 yrs" and pay down your debt. After the two years you should feel good. A big chunk of your debt is paid down and you have an emergency fund that gives you a safety net in case the unexpected comes up.

Pack your lunches instead of buying lunch at the cafeteria. That will save a lot by the end of the year.

If you want to purchase a "want" (not a need), write it down a piece of paper. Look at your list a month later. If you still want the item and you have money in the budget then buy it. Odds are you will cross it off the list. We all have impulse buys that we should never have purchased to begin with.

Edited by NICU Guy


Has 3 years experience.

First off, good on you for taking financial responsibility. Once you're out of school, priority #1 is setting up a rainy day fund. You need enough liquid cash to survive a minimum of three to six months without a job.

If you are willing to work in an area with a severe healthcare shortage for a period of two to three years, the Nurse Corps program will pay off either 60 or 85% of your loan. You need at least a 100% debt-to-salary ratio to be considered a Tier 1 candidate. This means that if you're expected to make less than $50,000 your first year, you have over a 100% ratio; this will probably be mostly determined by where you live and what RN starting salaries are.

If your debt is through the feds, you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness provided that you work full-time for a non-profit. This means you make payments on your loans for a period of 10 years, and your remaining balance is forgiven. There are three major risks to PSLF.

1) Income. If you make around $40,000 or $50,000 and you opt into REPAYE or one of the other 10% income-dependent payment plans, you'll only wind up paying about $20,000 or $25,000 before the escape hatch kicks in. If you live in an area of the country such as California where starting salaries for RNs are high, your monthly payments will be quite high, and the loan will probably be paid off before you reach the 10 year mark.

2) Fewer opportunities. While most hospitals are nonprofits, if you want to take an offer in the private sector (say, an informatics job at one of the EHR companies or a doctor's office), too bad, you can't.

3) The government factor. No one has actually had their loan balance discharged through PSLF yet; the first people are set to call in their forgiveness this year. There's nothing that says .gov can't change the program or walk back their side of the deal.

If neither of these programs sound like a good idea and you do want to go the payoff route, try refinancing through SoFi, Earnest, or another borrower to lower your interest rates so that more of your payment goes to principal. Pay off the highest interest loan first; it's a better return on investment.

Good luck.


Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 3 years experience.

I agree with what people are saying, live the same as you are now. The student lifestyle.

I'm graduating in November with my bsn, and will have roughly the same amount of debt. But what I found most helpful was making a budget. Firstly find out how much money you will be making a week, then deduct all the essentials like taxes, transport, rent, food, other bills. And then with what's left work out how much you want to save, how much you want to have as spending money. And then what's left is how much you can pay off of your student loan. I recommend making this an automatic payment, so you don't even see that money coming in and can't decide to spend it instead. I also recommend calculating how much you paying off a year and how fast you will pay off you debt. (might even help you make changes to pay it off sooner) that way you will be motivated knowing it's only x amount of years.

In my country there is a set amount all new grads get paid (49,500) which will increase each year I practice. But I've worked out with 40k debt, just based on the new grad pay rate it will take me 2 years and 10 weeks to be debt free. Live that way for another year or so and i even have a house deposit or to travel around the world. I currently live off of $9150 as a student, but also live at home which I'm looking forward to moving out in a few months. So earning 5x that amount next year, it's going to be pretty easy to save as long as I still spend like I'm student.