When you visit a healthcare setting, one of the first people you will likely see before the doctor even enters the room is a nurse. As one of America’s fastest-growing fields, careers in nursing are projected to grow 6% by 2031 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While nursing jobs can vary by specialty and discipline, one sector of nursing that has seen explosive growth since the Covid-19 pandemic is travel nursing. Prior to the pandemic, there were approximately 50,000 traveling nurses, but that number has nearly tripled as needs for qualified nurses surged throughout the country.
What Is a Travel Nurse?
Travel nurses are Registered Nurses (RNs) who move from location to location and take temporary assignments that usually last anywhere from 8-26 weeks. Travel nurses provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, long-term care facilities, a patient’s home, and more. They often receive higher pay than their permanent counterparts and can have a significant impact on the healthcare system.
But while travel nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career choice, it is important for those in this discipline to understand their financial situation. Many travel nurses borrow money to attend nursing school. Finding themselves in a large amount of debt when they graduate, they then have to manage their student loan debt while always on the go. Fortunately, repayment plans are available to help them get out from under their loans while still having enough money left over for other expenses.
Income-Driven Repayment Plan
If you are a travel nurse, your income might vary from job to job. An Income-Driven Repayment Plan (IDR) can be a great way to manage this kind of inconsistent cash flow. With an IDR plan, the amount you owe each month is based on your income and can be adjusted depending on how much money you make. This way, if your income varies from month to month, so does the amount of your payment.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) is available for federal student loans and allows qualifying borrowers to have their loans forgiven after making 120 on-time payments. This can be a great option for travel nurses who want to get out of debt in a shorter period of time and are employed full-time for a qualifying nonprofit organization or government entity.
As part of the PSLF program rules, you must make your monthly payments through an income-driven repayment plan, and depending on what types of federal loans you have, you may need to take action to consolidate them in order to be eligible.
If you have private loans, they can still be a burden to manage while traveling. Loan consolidation may be able to help, as it allows you to combine multiple student loans into one and can offer more flexible repayment options. It is important to note that consolidating your loans could mean losing any existing benefits, so it is essential to do your research and choose a repayment plan that works best for you.
Managing student loan debt can be intimidating, especially when combined with the hectic schedule of a travel nurse. But there are options available to help manage this debt. By being proactive and researching your available options, you can create a repayment plan that allows you financial freedom no matter where you go.