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Can Travel Nurses Qualify For PSLF (public service loan forgiveness)

Loan Forgiveness

The following article is not to be considered tax advice or medical advice. Consult a trained tax professional. 

Travel nurses work similarly to registered nurses but have unique tax policies since they travel between locations for work. How does financing work for travel nurses? One commonly discussed area is public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). Are travel nurses eligible for the same?

Travel nurses work for commercial organizations that don’t qualify for PSLF. However, there’s a chance to become eligible if over 120 consecutive loan payments are made by the nurse. In any case, the terms and conditions for travel nurses on PSLF aren’t flexible. 

In this article, let’s look at the background of PSLF, the eligibility criteria for PSLF, and other tips to maximize the chances of becoming eligible as a travel nurse.

What Is PSLF

Public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) is a program enabled by the US Department of Education meant to issue student loan forgiveness to eligible individuals operating in public domains. 

When you’re operating as a nurse in an organization, you automatically become eligible for PSLF and request forgiveness of the pending loan amount to be repaid. The primary reason behind offering this forgiveness is to encourage more people to participate in public service careers. 

As such careers stabilize your financial conditions, your student loan repayments are automatically adjusted.

What’s it like to be a travel nurse? The disadvantage is that you aren’t qualified because you work for a profitable organization and are well-paid. 

Eligibility Requirements For PSLF

The primary eligibility requirement for PSLF is a job at a public service organization that engages you in an income-driven repayment plan. When you work as a travel nurse, you aren’t eligible for loan forgiveness because the role is well-paid and you’re associated temporarily with the organization. 

Here are the general eligibility requirements for PSLF:

  • Possession of direct loans: When you’ve received direct loans from the US Department of Education, you can request forgiveness after becoming a full-time nurse at the organization. Some student loans don’t qualify for PSLF.
  • About 120 eligible payments made: Those loan repayments made after October 1, 2007 while you’ve been working in a public service job are critical. It’s essential to make 120 eligible payments. 
  • Type of repayment plan: In order to request student loan forgiveness, it’s essential to work on an income-driven repayment plan. In the case of travel nurses, the plan doesn’t fit since each consignment usually lasts only 13 weeks or less.

How Travel Nurses Can Qualify For PSLF

As a travel nurse, you can be qualified for a PSLF if you work on a special arrangement with a nonprofit or a government entity. This association also provides you with several other financial incentives to cope with the repayment schedule. 

Since most travel nurses work for for-profit organizations, not nonprofit or government agencies, they do not qualify.

The mission of PSLF is to enhance the number of individuals enrolling in public service domains. In most cases, travel nurses are denied PSLF due to these reasons:

  • Unstable income pattern
  • Enrollment in a profitable organization
  • Unstable residence

Having cited these reasons, there are other ways to request student loan forgiveness as a travel nurse. 

Alternatives To Qualify For PSLF As A Travel Nurse

Qualifying for PSLF as a travel nurse is cumbersome owing to the nature of the job. However, other options include the nurse corps loan repayment program, the state nursing loan forgiveness program, employer-based nursing loan forgiveness, and the national health service corps loan repayment program. 

It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to choose this job because of its attractive compensation and feel hopeless about their ineligibility for various loan forgiveness options. 

If that sounds like your story, here are a few options to try and succeed in student loan forgiveness.

Employer-based Nursing Loan Forgiveness

If you’ve been working for a nurse staffing company for a long time, you may have to talk with the firm to understand the availability of a loan forgiveness option. As you discover the eligibility criteria for the same, it’s feasible to sit with your employer and identify ways for tuition reimbursement or forgiveness. 

Perhaps most employers are aware of such options and can simplify the process for you. 

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program 

If you’re a travel nurse working at a critical shortage facility, this loan repayment program covers a portion of the loan. 

As a federal program, it encourages travel nurses enrolled in critical shortage facilities to avail maximum benefits. 

State Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program

If you’ve been working as a travel nurse in the same state for long, it’s appropriate to look for state nursing loan forgiveness programs as offered by your state. 

The attractive aspect of this arrangement is that loan forgiveness is prioritized for those functioning in a health professional shortage area. This is quite similar to the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program. 

Note: You should review your state’s guidelines to assess eligibility and apply further. 

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

According to the National Health Service Corps, belonging to the Health Resources and Services Administration of the government, travel nurses can still request loan forgiveness up to $100,000 if they’ve been designated a role in a rural setting. 

The loan repayment guideline can be checked here.

Final Thoughts

Being a travel nurse has its own set of pros and cons. While you’re naturally ineligible for PSLF, you can still look out for other loan repayment options from the state and federal governments. Alternatively, look for refinancing and debt repayment options when none of the programs work. These can relieve you from heavy loans even when you’re operating as a travel nurse. 


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