July 31, 2009

Federal loan program aids nursing students who want to teach

Federal loan program aids nursing students who want to teach

Becoming a nursing professor just got a little easier for Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students thanks to a $512,800 grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The grant will help fund a loan forgiveness program for nursing students who want to become full-time faculty upon graduation.

“The only way we, as a country, can help avoid nursing shortages is by having more nurse faculty,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., dean of Academics for the school. “This grant will help many of our nursing students as they prepare for a long career in nursing academia.”

The HRSA nurse faculty loan program provides a loan of up to $30,000 per year to students that can be used for tuition, fees and books. The program will forgive 20 percent of the total loan amount each year for the first three years that the student works as full-time faculty following graduation. The fourth year of employment as a nurse faculty member, the payback is 25 percent. After four years, the student will have 85 percent of this loan repaid.

VUSN has received HRSA nursing faculty loan forgiveness funds since the federal program started five years ago, but never at this high of a funding level. Last year, HRSA provided $164,000 worth of funding.

“This really opens opportunities for those who want to be nurse educators and shows the agency’s commitment to nursing education,” Norman said. “We have many Ph.D., Doctor of Nursing Practice and master’s students who will be very interested in broadening their scope and decreasing their debt burden.”

VUSN Ph.D. student Brian Widmar received financial assistance and knows the different it can make.

“It allowed me to focus on selecting a doctoral program suited to my research goals. Knowing support was available allowed me to focus more on academic needs rather than financial needs,” Widmar said.

In addition to the HRSA loan forgiveness grant, VUSN was also recently awarded $245,000 in scholarship monies for advanced nurse education training, specifically for master’s and doctoral students.