Nurse Practitioner Salary: Is It Worth The Cost? | Student Loan Planner


Is a nurse practitioner salary worth all of
the debt, stress, and the extra years in school that you need to get it? The DNP
degree is a good degree if you want to actually be a provider instead of just
doing bedside nursing, obviously. You can prescribe in some states. You can
actually see patients and make judgment calls and not actually be under the
supervision of a physician in some states. So that’s kind of exciting. I
would view that as the more relevant thing, rather than the finances of the
actual degree. So if you are going to go into becoming a nurse practitioner, that
is the more relevant thing to think about. Why is this? So think about the
starting salary of a nurse practitioner. You’re thinking really around $90,000 in
a lot of places. You know, there’s a bit of a range, $80,000 to $100,000, and that is a salary that you can actually get with a
BSN in some parts of the country. For example, if you are in California or a
lot of the west coast where there’s an actual shortage of nurses with just a
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, can actually easily make $100,000 in a
lot of places. So, given that, you know, becoming a doctor of nurse practitioner,
being a DNP, given that that degree can pay, you know, $90,000, $100,000, you know, those incomes can actually be quite similar. Now, if
you’re going to be in a place like Mississippi, Alabama, somewhere where
nurses don’t make as much, then yes you’re gonna get a premium on your
earnings for being a nurse practitioner. But I just thought I would mention that,
because the financial aspects are also that you have to in many cases give up a
year’s worth of salary to attain that role in becoming a nurse
practitioner. Sometimes, of course, you can go to school part-time,
but a lot of people, they just stop working and they go back to school and
that costs them opportunity cost of several years worth of salary. So I would
not look at becoming a nurse practitioner in the lens of “Is this a
better financial decision?”, I would make it more in light of “What do you want to
do with your career?” Our average nurse practitioner has
actually about $150,000 of student loans. That ranges, of
course, we’ve seen people with, you know, $80,000 in really low cost
programs up to $200,000 or even $250,000 for very high
cost programs, because they can last three or four years. And when you borrow
the maximum, obviously those hundreds of thousands of dollar cases are possible.
If you owe a whole lot relative to your income, then you might consider pursuing a
forgiveness strategy under something like Pay-As-You-Earn, where you pay for
20 years based on your income and then get the balance forgiven and pay a tax bomb.
If you work at a 501c3 hospital though, you might be able to pay for 10 years
instead of 20, and have the loans forgiven tax-free at the end. We generally
suggest Pay As You Earn for nurse practitioners, because you can also file
taxes as married filing separately to exclude your spouse’s income from your
payment calculation if loan forgiveness is the better option. If though you have
a debt to income ratio below 0.75, and you work in a private or public
hospital, it might make sense just to pay it all off. For people who do work in a
not-for-profit hospital I would say that, you know, if you even
have a debt to income ratio that’s 1 to 1 even, I would probably pursue loan
forgiveness under the PSLF program. In a private hospital at basically a
for-profit hospital system, then I would consider just refinancing at a debt
to income ratio of about 1.5 to 1. We’ve helped a lot of nurse practitioners just
like you trying to figure out what to do with their student loan debt
at varying levels, right, and a huge different range of debts and incomes. So
we’d love to help you come up with a custom plan. Just reach out to us, [email protected]

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