By Cassie Applegate, MSN, RN
Student loans are a necessity for most in order to pay for nursing school. Some are fortunate to not need any loan money, some only need a little and others have to take out the maximum in order to finish their education.
We have talked before about jobs that help repay student loans. Some jobs offer tuition reimbursement while some help pay for continuing education. We have also discussed different types of grants and loans. But, what happens when you graduate nursing school but haven’t found a job yet? How do you pay those loans back when the bills start coming but you have no income?
A few options are available to you. If you have federal direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans, you qualify for a grace period of six months after graduating from school. This is sometimes enough time to help you find a job and get settled before repaying your loans.
After that point, if you are unable to pay the loans back because of a lack of job or decreased income, you may be able to defer your student loans for a longer period of time. This can be helpful in times of crisis, but remember that your interest continues to accrue during this time.
Eventually you will have to face the facts and start paying on your loans. One option that made headlines recently was from President Obama’s speech on student loan debt, called the Pay as You Earn program. The president recently expanded this program to cover more borrowers. The program limits payments to 10 percent of your discretionary income and it also guarantees to never be more expensive than the standard repayment plan. Also, after 20 years (or 10 years if you’re working in public service) your loans will be forgiven.
Many other repayment plans exist. Some take into consideration your income, while others help you pay down your student loans while paying the least in interest. All of the options come with advantages and disadvantages and it is prudent to sit down with your loan company, your family and others that have gone through this process in order to find the plan that will work the best for your life. The repayment options are listed here.
Even if you have not finished school, it is never too late to be thinking about repayment options. Be prudent about how much money you borrow and start researching ways to pay off your loans when you are finished with school.
Have you finished nursing school and are now paying off your student loans? Were you aware of all of the options available to you? What plan did you end up choosing and why? Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!