Lending Tree writes that, in the class of 2018, 69 percent took out student loans and graduated with an average debt of $29,800.00. In addition, 14 percent of the parents took out an average of $35,000.00 in Federal Parent Plus Loans. Americans have over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt spread out over 45 million borrowers. If you came out of school with student loans, you’re in good company!
However, as a travel nurse, you have additional options of paying off your student loans, and even finding loan forgiveness options. For instance, nurses who graduated from an accredited nursing school with a current license without restriction may find there are some federal programs to help with loan reduction or cancellation. Some have strict requirements for the applicants and how the funds are awarded.
However, loan forgiveness is not the only way to help pay down, and pay off, your student loans. Travel nurses are often paid a good salary and have additional benefits that may make this easier. Before considering your benefits, look at your loan repayment schedules. Some loans offer a graduated repayment plan in which your payments begin at a lower amount and increase every two years. Although you still pay off the loan in the same amount of time, the repayment plan builds in salary increases, making it easier to afford your payments in the first few years.
If you have over $30,000 in Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, you may qualify for an extended repayment plan that might be fixed or graduated. Other lenders allow new graduates to apply for income-driven repayment plans, in which your monthly payment is lowered and based on a percentage of your discretionary income. If you took out multiple loans, you could combine them with a direct consolidation loan, or you may consider refinancing your school loans at a lower interest rate that would also consolidate your monthly payments.
As a new nurse, it can be a heady experience to receive a nice-sized paycheck every two weeks. However, it is vital you budget enough money to pay your loans and save for your goals and dreams. One way to do that is to make your coffee at home, pack up your lunch and get a roommate to offset your living expenses. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling and your home apartment is empty for weeks at a time.
Another way travel nurses have cut back on expenses is to forgo the apartment or home and live out of a motorhome in which they can travel the country and feel like they’ve never left home. It may cut back on expenses and allow you to keep your housing stipend as a travel nurse, which you may put directly towards your student loans. You have a choice of taking the housing stipend or allowing your agency to coordinate housing. When paying down debt, it may be helpful to take the stipend and live in less expensive housing arrangements, so you may send the remaining amount toward your student loans. You may also receive non-tax stipends for meals and incidentals, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars on top of your paycheck. This helps alleviate the cost of traveling from place to place, but may be saved by budgeting your expenses and using the available funds to pay off your student loans.
If you’re traveling alone, without friends, family or pets, you may have the opportunity to pick up an extra day or two every pay period in overtime. Making time-and-a-half for one shift a week can really make a dent in your student loans.
At Amare Medical Staffing, we are committed to helping you meet your financial goals and will help you find ways to pay down your loans. Contact us today to find your next assignment and begin your next adventure.