Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Options as a Travel Nurse 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

When you’re fresh out of nursing school, your income is possibly the lowest it’ll ever be as a healthcare professional — while your student loan amount is likely at its highest. 

Staring at your student loan bill, you begin to panic as you desperately wonder if travel nurses qualify for student loan forgiveness.

Paying off student loans can be an extreme financial burden for nurses just starting their careers. Keep reading to learn how becoming a travel nurse can help you pay off your student loans.


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How Being a Travel Nurse Can Help You Pay Off Your Student Loans

Life as a travel nurse can be adventurous — there are no limits to where you can go. Travel nursing offers job security as healthcare facilities across the country need qualified nurses to fill staff shortages.

One of the most enticing advantages of travel nursing is the impressive amount of money you can make. 

With the average cost of college in the United States being $36,436 per year, it’s no wonder the mere mention of the words ‘student loan’ can make your stomach churn. Immediately after receiving that hard-earned degree, most graduates seek out jobs that will pay them the most they can get in the quickest amount of time. 

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average traveling nurse salary is $101,132 yearly — a whopping $49 per hour. When compared to the national average registered nurse salary of $92,525, you can see how traveling nursing and student loan repayment can be a great match. 

Another way travel nursing can earn you more money is through stipends.

Stipends play a huge factor in making a travel nurse’s take-home pay higher than stationary nurses. Stipends are tax-free as long as it can be shown they are being used to cover duplicate expenses such as food, housing, and incidentals. 

As a travel nurse, you can bring home higher pay compared to a staff nurse who’s required to pay taxes on all their income.

If you are looking to pay off those student loans, consider working with a travel nurse agency like Trusted Nurse Staffing. In as little as 30 days after continuous employment, we offer our employees up to $5,250 tax-free student loan reimbursements yearly.

Use the Pronto job search to find available travel nurse jobs to start paying off those pesky student loans.


travel nursing and student loans


10 Programs for Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment as a Travel Nurse

You might still be asking yourself, “How do I get student loan forgiveness as a travel nurse?”

You’ll be thrilled to learn there are various nurse student loan forgiveness programs available to alleviate the financial strain on travel nurses. 

You may not qualify for them all, but it may be worth the research to see which options could help you pay the student loans off faster — or even have them forgiven.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced nurse looking to diminish your student loans, understanding these forgiveness programs can get you one step closer to financial freedom and an incredible nursing career. 


travel nurse student loan


#1: Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

The Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program pays up to 85% of unpaid nurse student loan debt for:

  • Registered nurses (RN)
  • Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN)
  • Nurse faculty

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States or a U.S. territory. 
  • Hold a current unencumbered license and have earned a diploma or degree in nursing.
  • Be employed full-time for at least 32 hours a week as an RN, a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner, or a nursing faculty at an eligible site.

Eligible sites include: 

  • Federally qualified health centers
  • Rural health clinics
  • American Indian health facilities
  • Community health centers
  • Public or private hospitals
  • Small rural hospitals
  • Most other health facilities barring clinics in prisons or correctional facilities and private practice offices

As repayment, you can receive 60% of the total outstanding qualifying nursing student loan balance for a two-year service agreement.

Qualifying participants may also apply for the optional third year of service for an additional repayment of 25% of the original loan balance, for a total of 85%.

These funds aren’t exempt from federal income and employment taxes, however, they are deducted directly from the award, so an end-of-tax bill isn’t due. 


#2: The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP)

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program (NHSC LRP) is a federal initiative focused on increasing access to healthcare services in underserved areas by providing loan repayment assistance to healthcare professionals.

The program offers financial support to eligible healthcare providers in exchange for a commitment to work in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for a specified period. 

HPSAs can be geographic areas, populations, or facilities. A geographic area includes a shortage of providers for an entire group of people within a defined area. 

Population HPSAs include a shortage of providers for a specific group of people within a defined geographic area, such as: 

  • Low-income populations
  • Homeless populations
  • Migrant farmer populations

Some examples of facility HPSAs include: 

  • Correctional facilities
  • State/county mental hospitals
  • Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs)
  • Federal Indian Health Services (IHS) and tribal hospitals
  • Dual-funded community health centers
  • CMS-certified rural health clinics

To be eligible, you must: 

  • Be employed full-time or part-time for two years in clinical practice at an NHSC-approved site in urban, rural, or tribal communities with limited healthcare access.
  • Be a lawful permanent resident of the United States or a U.S. territory.
  • Participate in or be eligible to participate in Medicaid, Medicare, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs.
  • Be fully trained and licensed to practice in the NHSC-eligible discipline and state in which you are applying to serve.

As repayment, you can receive:

  • Up to $75,000 for full-time and up to $37,500 for half-time participants who are physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants.
  • A $5,000 award enhancement for clinicians who demonstrate Spanish-language proficiency.

Funding preferences are given to current or former NHSC recipients seeking an extension of their service obligations and who are likely to practice in an HPSA after completing their service obligation.


#3: Military Option: Active Duty Health Professions Loan Repayment Programs

You may be eligible to have your student loans paid by the Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP). 

Types of loans that are considered eligible under the HPLRP include: 

  • A loan made, insured, or guaranteed under the Higher Education Act of 1965, including the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.
  • A health professions education loan made or insured under part A of title VII of the Public Health Service Act or under part B of title VIII of the same act
  • A loan made, insured, or guaranteed through a recognized financial or educational institution. The loan must have been used to finance education regarding a health profession determined by the Secretary of Defense to be critically needed in times of war.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Perform satisfactory service as an officer in the Selected Reserve of an armed force.
  • Possess professional qualifications, or be enrolled in a program of education leading to professional qualifications in a health profession determined by the Secretary of Defense to be critically needed to meet identified wartime combat medical skill shortages.

The amount of repayment you may receive is determined by your length of service after the date on which the loan was made. The military will repay a maximum of $40,000 yearly (minus 25% taxes). 


#4: Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program designed to provide student loan relief to individuals who work full-time in qualifying public service positions. 

To qualify for the PSLF, you must:

  • Be employed full-time by a U.S. federal (includes U.S. military service), state, local, or tribal government or qualifying not-for-profit organization.
  • Have direct loans, or consolidate other federal student loans into a direct loan.
  • Repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan or a 10-year standard repayment plan.
  • Make a total of 120 qualifying monthly payments (not necessarily consecutively).

Some eligible types of employers include:

  • Government organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Public service organizations, including AmeriCorps and Peace Corps

The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on your direct loans after:

  • You are working full-time for an eligible employer.
  • You’ve made the equivalent of 120 qualifying monthly payments under an accepted repayment plan.

Payments must be in the full amount indicated on your monthly bill and made no later than 15 days after the due date to count as being on time. 


#5: State Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs

Most states offer nursing student loan forgiveness or repayment programs to incentivize working in federally identified Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or state-designated facilities. 

These programs vary greatly by state.

In several states, only advanced practice nurses will qualify. Only certain loans qualify, such as federal loans you’ve never defaulted on. However, in some cases, you may be able to utilize a state program and a federal program at the same time.

All state-based programs are subject to change yearly based on the availability of funds. Be sure to check with your home state for more information on loan repayment and forgiveness programs.


travel nurse student loan repayment


#6: Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness

Another option is to pay off your federal student loans with an income-driven repayment plan (IDR). The amount of your payments is based on what you can afford. 

The percentage is different depending on the plan. Your required monthly payment amount may increase or decrease if your income or family size changes from year to year. You can choose one of the following options:

  • SAVE Plan: 10% of your discretionary income
  • PAYE Plan: 10% of your discretionary income, but no more than the 10-year standard repayment plan amount
  • IBR Plan: 10% of your discretionary income if you’re a new borrower, and 15% of your discretionary income if you borrowed before 2014. Either way, the monthly amount will never be more than the 10-year standard repayment plan amount
  • ICR Plan: 20% of your discretionary income or what you would pay with a fixed payment plan over 12 years, adjusted according to your income

Under all IDR plans, any remaining loan balance is forgiven if your federal student loans aren’t fully repaid at the end of the repayment period of either 20 or 25 years. The length of your repayment period depends on which plan you’re on.


#7: Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

Some nurses may be eligible for cancellation and discharge of up to 100% of their Federal Perkins Loans in exchange for five years of service at a facility approved under this program. Full or partial Perkins Loan cancellation depends on the type of loan you have and the date of the loan.

If you are eligible, your loan may be canceled in the following increments:

  • 15% per year for the first and second years of service
  • 20% for the third and fourth years
  • 30% for the fifth year

Repayment amounts include any interest accrued during each year of service.

Under federal law, the authority for schools to make new Perkins Loans ended on Sept. 30, 2017, and final disbursements were permitted through June 30, 2018. As a result, students can no longer receive Perkins Loans.

However, nurses who already have these loans can still benefit from the program by getting their loans canceled. Eligible nurses must apply for this program through the school that dispersed the loan or through the entity that services the loan.


#8: The Navient Multi-State Student Loan Settlement

Specifically for nurses with loans serviced by Navient, the Navient Multi-State Student Loan Settlement has a substantial impact on nurse student loan forgiveness. 

In 2022 Navient, one of the largest student loan servicers in the United States, agreed to resolve allegations of misleading and deceptive practices regarding loan servicing and collections.

As part of the settlement, Navient committed to implementing reforms and canceling the remaining balance of $1.7 billion in predatory subprime private student loans owed by more than 66,000 borrowers nationwide. 

A total of $95 million in restitution payments of about $260 each will be distributed to approximately 350,000 federal loan borrowers who were placed in certain types of long-term forbearance.

If you qualify, all you need to do is update or create your account to ensure the U.S. Department of Education has your current address.


#9: Indian Health Service Forgiveness Program

The Indian Health Service (IHS) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) awards up to $25,000 per year for the repayment of your qualified student loans in exchange for an initial two-year service obligation to practice full-time at an Indian health program site.

To qualify for this program, you must:

  • Be a health professional practicing in specific health profession disciplines.
  • Be willing to commit to an initial two-year service obligation.
  • Work in health facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Indian health facilities refer to hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities administered directly by IHS, a tribal organization, or an urban Indian program.

Opportunities are based on staffing needs and the availability of funds. 

The distribution of LRP awards is based on a ranking system created to address these needs. The system identifies hiring priorities for those Indian health program facilities with the greatest staffing needs in specific health profession disciplines.

The LRP awards up to $50,000 for your initial two-year service commitment and pays 24% of your federal tax liabilities. You are responsible for any remaining federal, state, or local taxes associated with your award.


#10: Employer-Based Student Loan Assistance

Section 2206 of the CARES Act allows employers to provide up to $5,250 in tax-free student loan payments on behalf of their employees every year. This money is exempt from taxes for both the employer and the employee.

Working with Trusted Nurse Staffing can help ease the load of your student loans, provide steady work with opportunities for higher pay rates, and the freedom to work when and where you want. 

To be eligible for employer-based student loan assistance through Trusted Nurse Staffing, you must:

  • Be a full-time employee of Trusted Nurse Staffing.
  • Have a graduate or undergraduate degree from an accredited nursing program.
  • Maintain 30 days of continuous employment with Trusted Nurse Staffing.

Travel nursing and student loan payoffs have never looked so good! Find your dream travel nurse job on Pronto.


travel nursing and student loans


Travel Nursing and Student Loans: Other Repayment Alternatives

If you don’t qualify for the programs above or still have unpaid balances after receiving the help you do qualify for, there are some other student loan forgiveness options for travel nurses. 



One way to alleviate debt is by refinancing your nursing school student loans. When you refinance, you can reduce your interest rate to receive a lower monthly payment and pay off your debt sooner.

You may choose to refinance your nursing school loans to:

  • Save money with a new loan that offers better terms, like a lower interest rate. 
  • Lower interest rates which translates to paying back less money overall
  • Pay off debt faster.
  • Lower loan-to-debt ratio.
  • Simplify loan payments since you can consolidate loans together and combine them into one loan with a single monthly payment.

Refinancing can be a great option for travel nurses who make too much to qualify for income-driven repayment, or for those who don’t spend enough time in a shortage area to qualify for other loan forgiveness programs.

Travel nurses can refinance private loans, federal loans, and Direct PLUS loans, which are for nurses pursuing graduate professions. Each lending institution has its own eligibility requirements.

Eligibility requirements for refinancing nursing student loans commonly include the following stipulations:

  • Nurses must have completed the minimum of a four-year bachelor’s program to qualify for private refinancing.
  • Nurses must have a minimum credit rating.
  • Nurse graduates must be employed and their income must meet minimum standards for loan approval.
  • The applicant’s debt-to-income ratio must be within the acceptable limit.
  • Nurses must show proof of employment.

You can refinance both private and federal student loans. If you decide to refinance federal student loans, you may become ineligible for certain federal loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment programs. 

It’s important to carefully consider whether refinancing federal student loans is the right move for you. 


student loan travel nurse


Create Your Own Debt Repayment Plan

In conjunction with refinancing, you can create a debt repayment plan. By applying extra money to your student loan, you will significantly speed up the debt repayment process and reduce how much you pay in interest overall. 

Some helpful tips to consider when setting up a debt repayment plan include:

  • Find out the exact total you owe on your student loan.
  • Calculate your monthly income.
  • Set a budget and establish your spending priorities.
  • Decide how much extra money you can put toward paying off your student loan.
  • Focus on paying off one debt at a time so more money goes to the principal balance and less is spent on paying interest.

You might need to specify with your student loan servicer or lender that you’d like the extra amount applied toward reducing the principal balance.


Get Your Dream Job in Your Preferred Location While Receiving Student Loan Assistance With Trusted Nurse Staffing

Unlike traditional nurses, travel nurses get paid to travel the country with the freedom and flexibility to work whenever, wherever. 

Travel nurses also tend to earn higher wages, enjoy bigger bonuses, and receive stipends for meals and housing — quickly saving more cash to put towards paying off those student loans.

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we understand the financial investment nurses make to start their careers. That’s why we’re happy to provide tax-free student loan reimbursements of up to $5,250 yearly.

Travel nursing and student loans just got a little simpler! Maximize your earning potential with the help of Trusted Nurse Staffing and pay off your student loans faster. 

Let us help you start your new travel nurse career by finding your dream job today.


travel nursing and student loans