Average Nursing Student Debt: How Much Do Nurses Owe?


The average debt of nursing students depends on the type of program you attend:

  • Associate Degree Nursing (ADN): $ 19,928 average debt.

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): $ 23,711 Average Debt.

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): $ 47,321 average debt.

The average monthly student loan payments are $ 196 for ADN-RNs and $ 234 for BSN-RNs. Nurses with an MSN pay an average of $ 544 a month.

These average debt and payment amounts are based on an analysis of the December 2019 federal student grant data from the U.S. Department of Education college scorecard.

What is the Average Nursing Student Debt?

You can become a registered nurse by completing a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN degree. Shorter programs, on average, result in less student debt, but ADNs can still end up in large balances: The National Student Nurses’ Association found small percentages of ADN-RNs and BSN-RNs as high as $ 80,000 in student debt.

Nursing graduates expect to finish school with median debt between $ 40,000 and $ 54,999, according to a 2017 report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. This is in line with the average nursing student debt of $ 47,321 based on college scorecard data.

However, MSN students can expect a lot more when they attend a world class institution. For example, Duke University MSN students graduate from school with an average debt of $ 74,781. At Johns Hopkins University, the average MSN debt is $ 80,545.

How to Pay Off Nursing School Debt

It depends on your salary as a nurse, you can be stuck with your debt for a long time. A 2019 survey by medical industry website Medscape found that 20% of nurses over 55 still have a student loan. These tips can help you pay off school debt:

  • Investigate forgiveness programs. Several Debt relief programs for nursing schools are available that can partially or completely eliminate your remaining nursing school debts. To be eligible for most of these programs, you must work for a public sector employer, in a critical shortage area, or both.

  • Find the right repayment plan. There are several Student loan repayment options. The standard plan – 120 payments over 10 years – is best when you can afford your loan payments. If your debt is a little too thin on you, an income-oriented plan can offer a more manageable monthly bill.

  • Pay off loans faster. If you’re happy with the standard plan, here are some things to consider make additional payments to get rid of your debt in nursing school faster. You could even Refinancing with a private lender – especially if you have higher-interest college loans – provided you don’t need income-based plans and are not eligible for forgiveness.

If you are still in the planning phase of your training, be sure to check it out Scholarships for Nurses. You don’t have to repay this money and it reduces the amount you need to borrow.

Average student loan amounts by type of debt

$ 19,928: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN)

$ 23,711: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

$ 47,321: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

1. 2019 The Institute for College Access and Success 2. 2015-16 National Center for Education Statistics 3. 2017-18 Urban Institute 4. 2015-16 National Center for Education Statistics 5. 2015-16 National Center for Education Statistics 6. 2019 Association of American Medical Colleges 7. 2019 American Dental Education Association 8. 2020 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy December 9, 2019 Federal Student Aid Data from the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard 10. 2019 American Veterinary Medical Association


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