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Should I Get a Federal Nursing Loan?

The prospect of paying for nursing school can feel overwhelming. Between tuition, lab fees, text books, and uniforms, the cost can get high. For many, a federal nursing loan can be a good option for offsetting the cost of nursing school, but it may not be the best choice for every nursing student. Fortunately, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to help decide whether or not getting a federal loan is a good choice for you to help pay for nursing school.

Can you pay for nursing school on your own?

The first thing you should think about is whether or not you can pay for nursing school on your own. Can you cover all the fees and tuition? Your financial aid office can give you an estimate of how much it will cost you go to go school, and will be able to break it down into semesters, years, and an overall picture for your entire schooling. If you can pay those costs on your own, it might be a good idea to pass on a federal nursing loan. If not, a loan may be a good option for you.

Have you been awarded any grants or scholarships?

Grants and scholarships are money awarded to students that don't have to be paid back. Loans, on the other hand, have to be paid back, and carry an interest rate. Using grants and scholarships to offset the cost of school may be a better option than a federal nursing loan since you don't have to pay them back afterward. You can speak with a financial aid representative about what grants and scholarships you might be eligible for. There are a wide variety of possibilities that go beyond your grade point average and major. However, if you are not eligible for scholarships or grants, or weren't awarded any, a loan may be your next step in paying for school.

Can you work while you're in school?

Depending on your situation and when your nursing classes are offered, you may be able to work while you're in school. If so, can that income help pay for school? If you're already working, do you have the ability to pick up extra hours to help pay for school? If so, you may not need a federal nursing loan. If not, a loan may be a good way to supplement any income you already have to be filtered to your school costs.

Will you be able to repay a federal nursing loan?

This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself before deciding to take out a loan. While grants and scholarships are, essentially, "free money" for school, loans must be paid back either while you're in school (unsubsidized loans) or once you've finished your classes (subsidized loans). It's important to evaluate your budget and determine whether or not a monthly loan payment is something you can handle. If your budget is too tight for a monthly loan payment, using a loan to help pay for nursing school might not be the best option for you. If you can make a loan payment work in your budget, then you don't need to rule it out as a possibility to help pay for nursing school.

Whether or not you should get a loan is a very subjective question. The best answer for you may not be the best option for someone else. Before you decide, it's important to look at your individual situation and weigh it against other options you have to pay for school. Then you can make an informed decision about getting a federal nursing loan.

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