Nursing skills: 4 tips for managing student loans

Student loans can be an imposing and difficult responsibility for young people entering the workforce. The tasks of building your clinical nursing skills and becoming more comfortable in a new work environment can make it hard to prioritize financial obligations. Yet neglecting to pay your student loans on time can have very serious consequences.

Part of your nursing skill set, therefore, includes managing duties inside and outside of work. This way you can fully hone in on your patients without the headache of worrying about paying off student loans. For any recent or future graduates worried about paying off nursing school loans, consider these helpful tips:

1. Create a balanced budget
Taking the time to review your finances is important for people of all ages, but for anyone with student loans, this can be a crucial step. Many recent graduates may be living away from home for the first time, and ensuring your income covers all of your expenses is essential. Career Igniter found that, on average, a four-year nursing program can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 a year. For that reason, nursing students may be required to take out larger student loans than some of their peers in other industries. 

Making sure your finances are balanced is important for making sure your loans are covered.Making sure your finances are balanced is important for making sure your loans are covered.

For those who graduate with a rather large portfolio of loans, making sure your financial obligations are covered is essential. Set up a spreadsheet and list your monthly expenses, including rent, utility bills and student loans. Add other costs related to entertainment, food or travel. This will give you an idea of how much money you need to set aside each month and make the prospect of paying off your nursing student loans more manageable.

2. Use electronic tools to avoid mistakes
The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) reported that working with a lender online is one of the best ways to make sure your loans are paid off fully and on-time. Most organizations will give you a clear monthly break-down of what you owe, including any grace periods or payment options.

Above all else, make sure you stay on top of your financial obligations. Nurses may work long hours, so leveraging online tools to pay off your loans is an efficient and safe way avoid mistakes.

3. Look into forgiveness programs or consolidation efforts
Setting up a budget and digital payments will help you feel more in control of your student loans. From there, it's worth looking into options that can reduce the amount of money you owe each month. There are several state and federal programs that can ease financial obligations.

"The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program works with new nurses."

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, for example, works specifically with new nurses to find employment and pay off a proportion of student loans. In some instances, nurses may be capable of cutting 60 percent of unpaid balances in the span of two years. 

Other institutions – including your alma matter – may offer loan forgiveness programs or restructuring options that can reduce either your monthly payments or the amount of money you owe in total. 

4. Prioritize your loans
Above all else, one of the toughest challenges for nurses can be adhering to a loan payment plan. Neglecting or skipping a month can negatively affect your credit and other financial standings. For that reason, making sure you prioritize your loans over other purchases is crucial.

TICAS suggested paying ahead as a helpful solution for young nurses. In this way you may be able to reduce the amount you pay each month. This is a perfect investment for people who receive monetary graduation presents or with a little bit of wiggle room in their budget.

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