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How to Pay Off Nursing School Loans and Attend Grad School for Free

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Long story short, I have NO DEBT as a recent master’s program grad.

Yup, you read that right… zero debt. 💃

💰Talking about money can be awkward and weird… but also empowering! I love to be transparent with you all about my nursing journey and TUITION is a HUGE part of undergraduate and graduate school.

FIRST, let's talk student loans REAL quick.

Like a lot of you, my parents did not pay for my college or graduate school education. That meant I needed to take out student loans.

BIGGEST TIP: Apply for a federal student loan. You can read more about the application process here. Try to avoid private loans if you can. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try to avoid putting tuition on a credit card. The high interest rates on a credit card will haunt you for YEARS.

After I applied for my undergraduate student loan on the FAFSA website, I was given $12,000 in the form a Direct Subsidized Loan at 3.4% interest and $12,000 in the form of a Direct UNsubsidized Loan at 6.8% interest. In very simple terms, my subsidized loan did not accrue interest until I graduated and my UNsubsidized loan DID accrue interest while I was in school.

Compare that interest to private loans by Googling " [name of bank] student loans" and you will find that their interest rates can be up to double as much. Putting it on your credit card could mean the interest rate is up to 25%!

If you are unsure of where to start in terms of loans and paying for school, I suggest you talk to your university's Financial Aid Counselor.

Second, here are few things I did to SAVE money after high school

🔶Nursing prereqs at a community college (cheap classes but amazing professors!)

No shame in my CC game. I attended Saddleback College for my nursing prereq classes and never had to worry about impacted classes and saved money while waiting to apply to nursing school.

🔶Transferred to a STATE college for nursing school CSULB (about $25k in student loans).

In-state tuition saved me a ton of money compared to a private college or out of state.

🔶Worked for a few years as a PICU nurse and saved BIG time while being a travel nurse.

Before I applied to grad school to get my MSN and become a PNP, I made a conscious decision that I wouldn't take out any more loans. I saved while working as a nurse and a travel nurse.

🔶Saved $20,000 for grad school and paid off all BSN loans before going back to school (travel nursing was a HUGE factor in this!)

🔶Applied to scholarships.

During grad school, I got lucky and got a scholarship for one semester of my master’s program. I paid for 1 semester about of pocket (around $4k a semester) from what I saved previously.

AND GET THIS... MY HOSPITAL PAID FOR THE REST OF MY GRAD PROGRAM! No contract signed. They added it as a perk to per diem, part time and full time nurses. My last two semesters I was reimbursed by my hospital (they started giving employees $10k/year for school).

I advise you to look into education reimbursement offered by your hospital. If you are looking into applying to a new job, ask about this perk!

✨So, in a nutshell, I was able to graduate from my master’s program with zero debt!

👩‍⚕️From 19yrs old in community college to a decade later, I’m proud of (most of) my money decisions and sacrifices and I hope this shows you that YOU can also go to nursing school or go back to get your master’s without putting yourself in piles of student loans.

✨I also understand that every situation is different and I had the privilege of living at home (undergrad) and not having any kids for a lot of my nursing journey.

🔶Two resources I highly recommend that worked for me to pay off debt & SAVE$:

1️⃣Everything I learned about saving money, paying off my debt, maximizing my savings etc is from my husband Eric AND the book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by @ramit

You can purchase from my Amazon Affiliate link here.

(If you purchase through my link I will earn a small commission which helps me continue to offer free resources to nurses and students like you, thanks!)

2️⃣ I also use @qapital app to automatically save money for me every month (I’ve saved over $30k total through that app)

I hope this was helpful to my future students, and nurse practitioners!

New grad RNs love my Pediatric Resources Ebook. PNP and FNP students and new grad NPs LOVE my clinical cheat sheets! Check them out here

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