How Can You Get $60,000 Towards Your Nurse Practitioner Student Loans?

Winter is drawing to a close and spring is on the horizon, as is your nurse practitioner program graduation.  You can't wait to be done with school, to get on with your career and enjoy the promise of a new life adventure.  You have worked hard beginning to establish yourself as a nurse practitioner and plan to enjoy a fulfilling job and substantial salary...whatever is left after making your monthly student loan payments, that is.  

Student loans blunt the sense of accomplishment students feel with graduation.  Rather, your diploma serves as a reminder of the hefty bills coming soon to your mailbox.  How can you offset these expensive monthly payments offering you some peace of mind in your new career?  Work in a medically underserved area.  

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) promises to pay up to $60,000 in student loan reimbursement to nurse practitioners practicing in a medically underserved area for an initial two years of full-time service.  Medically underserved sites with slightly less need qualify for up to $40,000 in student loan reimbursement.  Following the initial two year reimbursement period, you may even be eligible to continue receiving student loan payments from the National Health Service Corps in one year allotments.  

How do you find out if your practice is eligible for student loan repayment as a medically underserved area?  The NHSC website allows you to input the address of a prospective clinical site determining if this particular location qualifies as a medically underserved area.  Each location is assigned a score indicating the level of medical need.  This number is considered in calculating your loan repayment allowance.

Concerned that working in a medically underserved area may cramp your social life?  Not to worry- you won't necessarily have to live on a 20 acre farm 30 miles from the nearest grocery store to practice in a medically underserved area.  Many small towns near larger metropolitan areas qualify as medically underserved.  In fact, one of the clinics where I completed my clinical hours, less than 30 minutes from my home in the city, qualifies as a medically underserved community.  I think I could stomach a 30 minute daily commute for tens of thousands of dollars toward student loans.  

If you are interested in learning more about NHSC student loan reimbursement, check out the requirements then submit an application online.  Applications are due in April, so now is the perfect time to apply.  Working in a medically underserved area might be the perfect solution to paying off your mounting nurse practitioner student debt avoiding the financial headaches of many recent graduates. 

Do you receive student loan reimbursement by working in a medically underserved area?  Tell us about your experience by commenting below!


Is it possible to apply for this before you have a job? I am asking because the deadline is April, and I don't graduate until May so I likely won't get a job until then. Or does this mean that I would have to wait an entire year before I can apply for this?


Hi Phil, 

Good question. You complete the required application and accept a job at an NHSC site to be eligible for the loan repayment program. There is no guarantee that you receive the loan repayment. Practicing at a site rated highly on the NHSC scale can significantly help your chances of repayment. 

Erin Tolbert

How do you know if you will be accepted into these repayment plans? Do you just get your schooling and hope to get into the program?

Phil Nelson

I graduated in December 2014. I have been working as a NP and make similar to what I was making as an RN because I was an RN for 24 years. I did apply for both the nurse corps and the HRSA loan repayment programs and was turned down for both even though I am working in a critical access facility in a critical shortage area. My loans are $60,000. I enjoy my job but between the pay, added stress and liability, and my student loans I often think that financially my new career path is not worth it. I'm hoping for pay increase or loan repayment somehow.

J carter

In regards to the types of loans, does the loan repayment program repay loans from private lenders as well as federal? I will starting NP school in the fall and would like to know if the repayment program only cover certain loans


Unfortunately, the program is only for primary care outpatient facilities. Here's a link to the requirements.

Erin Tolbert

Is this for primary care only? Can an ACNP apply for this?


Hi Kate,

Great question!  You choose where you work.  Essentially, you find a job on your own then apply to the loan reimbursement program.  There is a place on the govt. website for you to enter the city and address of the practice you are considering working for so you can tell before you take the job if it may qualify for the program. 

Erin Tolbert

I am preparing to start down the path to becoming an NP. I am curious about the 2 year committment of working in a medically underserved area. Does the federal government determine where you will serve the two years, or does the provider choose the area?

Kate in WI

If you have only a few years of nursing experience, the NP salary is much higher.  If you have been an RN for 20 years, the difference won't be as significant. 

Erin Tolbert