Working as a nurse practitioner (NP) can be a rewarding profession that enables a person to directly impact patients’ lives. Their advanced training puts them in a more authoritative position than registered nurses (RNs) and gives them similar responsibilities to physicians.
Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). A nurse practitioner has to go through several years of education and training before being able to start their career. This path includes earning an undergraduate degree, gaining hands-on nursing experience, completing a graduate-level program, and obtaining a license in practical nursing.
But the journey to become a nurse practitioner also comes with considerable student loan debt. In 2019, Student Loan Planner’s nurse practitioner clients had about $149,000 in student loan debt — a figure that could keep climbing because of tuition increases. If you’re in this profession and are weighed down by your student debt, find out how student loan refinancing for nurse practitioners can help.
Nurse practitioner salary
Nurse practitioners face a lot of potential student loan debt, but there’s an upside for those who want to make this profession their long-term career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual average salary for nurse practitioners is $115,800. A six-figure salary could make repaying student loan debt more manageable.
Also, the extra steps it takes to go from an RN to an NP could be worth it in the long run. It will take longer to complete the educational and licensing requirements to become a nurse practitioner, which can lead to taking on more student debt, but additional compensation usually comes with that extra work. By comparison, the median annual wage for an RN was $73,300 in May 2019 — that’s $42,500 less than a nurse practitioner salary.
As a nurse practitioner, you can also work and earn money while studying to get your advanced degree. Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s in nursing science (BSN) degree, you can work as an RN before jumping into graduate school. The money earned during that time can help pay for future schooling and keep your overall student loan debt down.
Nurse practitioner student loan refinancing
Student loan refinancing for nurse practitioners is one way to help lower student debt. Generally, the goal of NP student loan refinancing is to secure a new loan at a lower interest rate. There are other benefits to refinancing, too, such as:
- A lower monthly payment
- Expedited payoff time
- Lower debt-to-income ratio
- Easier student loan management in the form of one payment as a result of loan consolidation
You can refinance federal student loans and private student loans into a new private, refinanced student loan. Refinancing private loans into another private loan is less risky than refinancing federal student loans into a private loan.
Federal student loan refinancing for nurse practitioners
Borrowers can rework their federal loans either through a Direct Consolidation Loan or private student loan refinancing for nurse practitioners. A Direct Consolidation Loan makes managing federal student loan debt easier with one monthly payment, but it only simplifies your repayment — it’s not an effective way to save money on interest.
Refinancing federal student loans with a private lender, however, lets you pay less money overall by locking in a competitive interest rate. Refinancing — whether the student loan is a federal or private loan — means you’ll get a brand-new loan with a new interest rate and terms.
The refinancing process varies by lender, but all lenders require a credit check. Borrowers who are refinancing federal loans into a private refinance loan will lose federal benefits, like income-driven repayment plans, access to loan forgiveness programs and hardship repayment options. If you’re certain you don’t need these protections, nurse practitioner student loan refinancing might be a cost-saving option.
Let’s look at how much a nurse practitioner could save by refinancing a 10-year, $100,000 student loan with a 7% interest rate to a 5% interest rate using the Student Loan Planner Refinance Calculator:
Loan Term After Refinancing
Original Monthly Payment
New Monthly Payment
1st Year Interest Savings
Lifetime Interest Savings
As you can see, shortening the initial loan term when refinancing a student loan can increase a monthly payment, but doing so can save a borrower more than $26,000 in interest in the long run.
Nurse practitioner student loan refinancing lenders
Nurse practitioners don’t have to go it alone when they refinance their student loans. A number of private lenders offer special refinancing options for NPs. Here are a few to consider.
Working professionals with four-year undergraduate or graduate degrees from Title IV-accredited institutions may refinance their student loans with Laurel Road. Healthcare industry graduate and undergraduate students can start to refinance their loans as early as their final semester of school — as long as they have a signed contract or letter of employment. Nurses with an associate’s degree and who have been employed at least 12 months are also eligible for refinancing.
Earnest’s variable interest rates for nurse practitioner student loan refinancing start at 1.99% APR. The lender’s fixed rates begin at 2.98% APR with autopay. Earnest reviews borrowers’ profiles and offers tailored rates and terms. The lender also uses data like saving patterns, investments and career trajectory to determine borrowers’ interest rates.
SoFi consolidates all qualified student loans. The lender also aims to offer savings and flexibility to borrowers with a number of qualities that many nurse practitioners possess: graduated from a Title IV-accredited university or graduate program, are employed, have a responsible financial history, consistently earn a monthly income and have a job offer with a start date within 90 days.
Should nurse practitioners refinance their student loans?
Your nurse practitioner student loan debt situation will dictate whether you should refinance your loans. Refinancing is often a good option for NPs who currently have a high interest rate. Student loan refinancing might also be helpful for nurse practitioners who have high variable-rate loans.
Good credit — or a cosigner with good credit — is also required for nurse practitioner student loan refinancing. If your credit score or financial situation has improved since you first got your medical student loan, it might be wise to consider refinancing for a competitive interest rate.
It’s important to calculate your potential savings before applying for student loan refinancing. Student Loan Planner’s refinance calculator helps eliminate any guesswork by showing you exactly how much money you can save by refinancing your loan.
The amount of savings is based on your current loan amount, current interest rate, new loan term length and updated interest rate. The calculated results shows you whether refinancing your nurse practitioner student loan makes financial sense for your situation.
If you have federal student loans
Nurse practitioners with federal student loans should think twice before refinancing. Federal student loans come with a number of benefits that would be lost if the loan is refinanced with a private lender. Some of these benefits include access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs, as well as fixed interest rates.
Losing out on forgiveness programs, like Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) should not be the sole reason to avoid NP student loan refinancing, however. Borrowers in the PSLF program have to make 120 qualifying payments to be eligible for forgiveness. It’s possible that you might completely repay your total student debt in that time and have nothing left to forgive.
Nurse practitioners need to look at their student loan balance and determine how much debt might be eligible for forgiveness after 10 years of payments. Chances are that refinancing will help you repay your debt in less time than what’s required for PSLF.
Create a plan to pay off your nurse practitioner student loans
You’ll need to navigate several steps when it comes to applying for and securing student loans. And you’ll face equally challenging requirements and decisions when considering student loan refinancing.
Student Loan Planner’s team of experienced consultants is ready to help you discover a student loan refinancing strategy that makes sense for you and your career path as a nurse practitioner. Book your free consultation today.