Pursuing a career in nursing is a labor of love. Nurses do all the heavy lifting, working more hours than doctors do and with much more intense patient interaction than physicians. They are the true caregivers of the medical industry and the backbone it cannot do without. But the cost of a nursing degree can be high. Well-respected nursing programs cost an average $20,000-$30,000, meaning many nurses graduate deep in student loan debt.
There are some programs to help. Certain positions may qualify you for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), but these are typically lower paying opportunities. Income based repayment plans can score you lower payments, but result in higher overall interest costs due to the longer repayment period and, if you have a balance forgiven, can see you paying a big tax penalty. Instead, consider other opportunities to deal with your student loan debt – a travel job for one…
What Exactly Is a Travel Nurse?
A travel nurse accepts short term assignments from down the road to all the way across the country, to Alaska or Hawaii. You fill needs that are seasonal or regional, cover maternity leave or where there are staff shortages and hiring is taking longer than anticipated. You get an assignment that lasts from eight to 52 weeks, but that average around three months. After the initial term ends, you may be offered an extension, a permanent job where you were working or choose to accept a new travel assignment.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse?
Travel nurse salary is much higher than you’ll get at a permanent position because you are filling a high-need slot – many can earn six figures. You also get free housing and an allowance for meals and incidentals. Some positions offer sign-on and completion bonuses. Medical and dental insurance, 401(k), life insurance and free travel to and from assignments are also offered. If you have a family or pets, the company that arranges your assignment can ensure your housing option can accommodate your needs.
Other Reasons to Explore Travel Nursing
You may have had limited opportunities to travel and see the states. Many graduates have only spent time in the region where they grew up with occasional vacations to tourist attractions. Travel nursing allows you to explore new cities and decide where you want to put down roots (or if you want to). You’ll meet new people, see new things and experience new places. Even a short three month assignment will allow you time to explore much that a new city has to offer – museums, amusements, bars, restaurants, markets and nature.
How Travel Nursing Can Help with Student Loans
With your living expenses taken care of and a higher salary, you can afford to devote a larger share of your wages to your student loans. The standard repayment plan takes a decade to pay off, but you can knock out your debt in just a couple of years if you throw every spare dollar at it. If you live in a state with income taxes, but work in a state where there are none, you should not have to pay taxes on that share of your income. This additional savings can be applied to your student loans.
To find out more tips on paying off your loans faster, read our blog every day. And be sure to sign up for our free student loan tool to track your debt and see all your loans in our easy-to-read dashboard. You can see the impact of making additional payments and how much faster you can vanquish your student loans.