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NFLP & Nurse Faculty Loan Program
Some years back, the US government realized that there was an increasingly large shortage of nursing faculty at universities in America. Thus, they asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help solve the problem who then assigned the issue to the HRSA. The HRSA stands for Health Resources and Services Administration and one of their missions is ‘Foster a Health Care Workforce Able to Address Current and Emerging Needs.’ Subsequently, they created many different programs, one of which is the NFLP, which stands for Nurse Faculty Loan Program to help with the compounding lack of nurse educators throughout the country.
What is the NFLP?
The NFLP started in 2003. In short, the purpose of the NFLP (Nurse Faculty Loan Program) is to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty by providing loans to part-time and full-time students in Master of Science (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. After graduation, up to 85% of the total NFLP loan is forgiven over a consecutive 4-year period while the borrower serves as a full-time nurse faculty at a school of nursing.
NFLP Loan 2021
Last year, in fiscal year 2020, the HRSA awarded US$27mn to 81 nursing institutions. The HRSA does not release statistics on number of additional nurse faculty that this funding has created. However, by a rough back of the envelop calculation, assuming each loan is US$35,000 and a student studies on average of 2 years, the HRSA has assisted in helping incentivize approximately 385 additional nurse educators each year.
Furthermore, the NFLP Loan in 2021 is expected to be approximately the same amount as the U.S. government continues to focus on increasing the number of nursing faculty, despite the current budget deficit.
Where does the NFLP funding come from?
The U.S. government mainly funds the NFLP program. To align interest, the government (through the HRSA) requires participating schools to also contribute to the overall funding of 1/9 or approximately 11% of the amount that the federal government contributes to the school. Likewise, the overall funding is also helped by any interest collected / principal recollected from previous years. However, the federal government and participating schools are the main contributors.
How to be Eligible for the NFLP
The NFLP eligibility requirements are fairly straightforward. In order to be considered for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program Loan, you must meet these requirements:
Be a US citizen or permanent resident
Be enrolled as a full-time or part-time student in an advanced nursing education degree. The NFLP is available to students enrolled in DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), RN to MSN Nurse Educator or PMC Nurse Educator programs. To clarify, DNP degrees include DNP Executive, DNP Advanced Practice, PhD programs.
Maintain good academic standing (as defined by the school) while enrolled in the program. Most schools will define this as maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Most importantly, you must not have any lawsuits / judgement liens against you for bad debts to the US government
Prior to each disbursement of NFLP funding, the borrower will be required to sign a Promissory Note.
Each individual nursing school will have their own separate NFLP application form. However, all the NFLP Application forms are required to have the same required information that the HRSA officially publishes on its official exhibit forms online.
Moreover, the borrower must complete the school curriculum and graduate from the advanced nursing degree program. Depending on the school, you may be required to take additional nurse educator components prior to graduation. These courses may include Teaching in Nursing, Curriculum Development, Theories of Learning as well as other topics.
Nurse Faculty Loan Program Participating Schools (Partial List)
In total, the HRSA has awarded the nurse faculty loan program to 81 participating NFLP participating schools. Of the 81 total participating schools, 19 are CRNA Schools and 1 anesthesiologist assistant programs. These CRNA schools include:
Meanwhile, the only Anesthesiologist Assistant Programs participating in the NFLP is the Nova AA program.
We provide the full 81 advanced nursing degree schools participating in the NFLP at the end of the article.
Do I Have to Work in the Same State or School that I graduate from?
The good news is that you do not have to teach or be a nursing faculty as the same State or same university that you obtained your degree. In fact, NFLP borrowers may fulfill the full-time faculty requirement at any accredited nursing college in the United States. The only requirement is that the nursing college must be accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
What does the NFLP cover?
The NFLP loan covers the full cost for tuition, fees, textbooks, and other educational expenses. To be clear, the NFLP funding cannot be used to cover living expenses, health insurance, transportation and personal costs not related to academic schooling.
Each year, the maximum amount that can be disbursed to each student is US$35,000 annually for up to 5 years of support, or US$175,000 during that time. Further, most schools will require that the educational program (DNP or PhD) be completed within 5 years. I’ve seen some schools actually limit the amount that a student may take below the US$35,000 maximum to allow more students to be able to receive the loan, so this will vary on a school-by-school basis.
Also, funds are available on a first come-first serve standing each academic year with priority given to students who have already received Nurse Faculty Loan Program support in previous years. The borrower may apply for other federal support from other programs as long as the funds are not used to cover the same costs.
What is a Nurse Educator?
In relation to the NFLP, a nurse educator is a nursing instructor or faculty member that teaches nursing students. Consequently, he or she is responsible for multiple job duties including designing curriculum & instruction, lecturing & classroom discussions and overseeing lab & clinical work. The role is very hands-on, with nurse educators taking their own experience and sharing real world examples to their students.
In order to qualify for the nurse educator or nurse faculty position, you must hold a post-graduate degree, which is either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Therefore, all nurse educators are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). These APRNs can include CRNAs, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. Some APRNs are full time nurse educators while others are part-time or are nursing faculty for several years only. The Nurse Faculty Loan Program supports nurse educators by helping future nurse educators financially through providing the educational loan at subsidized interest rates and allowing the cancelling of up to 85% of the loan over the 4-year period upon graduation.
Why Should I become a Nurse Educator?
First, the field of higher education for nurse educators has more flexibility than nursing at hospitals and in practice. This is especially helpful especially for those with families or children.
Second, there continues to be a large shortage of nurse educators both regionally and nationally. In a report from September 2020, the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) stated that over 80,000 qualified applications are turned down from US nursing schools due to shortage of faculty as the top reason. This faculty shortage is compounded by many macro factors including:
Nursing Educator Trends
Rising age of nursing school faculty. Today, the average age of nursing faculty with doctor’s degrees is 63 years old while those holding a master’s degree is 57 years old. According to the Nursing Outlook, one third of nursing faculty are expected to retire by 2025.
Private sector luring current and future nurse faculty away. According to the AANP, the average salary of a nurse practitioner is US$110,000. In addition, the average CRNA salary is US$177,911. Meanwhile, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported the average salary for an Assistant Professor in Nursing School was US$79,444. That is to say, although salaries have risen in recently years, teaching in nursing school still pales in comparison to the private sector.
All this leads to current masters and doctor degrees of nursing not producing enough nursing students and this problem will compound and get worse in the future. According to the AACN, in 2019 already 8,471 qualified applicants were turned down from nursing master’s programs and 3,157 qualified applicants were rejected from nursing doctor’s degree programs due to shortage of faculty and locations for clinicals.
All in all, the macro trend of the shortage of nursing faculty portends well for an extraordinarily strong career outlook for nursing school faculty with future job stability and security.
Giving Back to the Nursing Community
Third and most importantly, there is the softer aspect that being a nurse educator gives you the opportunity to give back to the nursing community and inspire other nurses. As a nursing faculty, you will able to mentor and guide students as well as be a leader in shaping the next generation of nurses. That’s something invaluable and impossible to put a price tag on.
Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment
The Nurse Faculty Loan repayment is payable monthly over a 10-year period following a 9 months grace period after the borrower graduates from the nursing education program.
Furthermore, the NFLP loan bears interest at a rate of 3% per annum following a 3 months grace period after the borrower graduates from the nursing education program. This is considered a highly subsidized interest rate.
After graduation, the nursing school will cancel up to 85% of the principal amount and interest over a 4-year consecutive period of employment as a nursing faculty member. The nurse faculty loan repayment and cancellation of up to 85% of the NFLP loan works like this:
Work one year as full-time faculty employment = 20% of loan and interest cancelled
Subsequently, work a second year as full-time faculty employment = additional 20% of loan and interest cancelled
After that, continue working a third year as full-time faculty employment = additional 20% of loan and interest cancelled
Finally, work a fourth year as full-time faculty employment = additional 25% of loan and interest cancelled
Total = 85% loan and interest cancelled after working for four years as a nurse educator
Early Termination Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment
However, in the event of an early termination where the borrower ceases to be enrolled as a student in the program, the 10-year monthly repayment schedule would begin immediately at that point in time.
In the event of early termination that the individual chooses to not fulfill his /her obligations, such as failure to complete the course of study or failure to serve as a nursing faculty member, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program loan interest rate would immediately increase from 3% to the current market interest rate. For instance, the current prevailing rate is now 9.5% for all overdue debts and is updated by the Secretary of the Treasury.
First, the HRSA has made the NFLP as flexible as possible. This is a huge advantage. Upon graduation, there is a 9-month grace period to find employment, which is very generous.
Second, the requirement of being a full-time nursing faculty member is not extremely strict. For example, you can fulfill the criteria with any of the following options:
NFLP Employment Requirements
1 Full-time faculty position (tenure or non-tenure)
Similarly, 1 Part-time faculty position + 1 Part-time faculty position. The NFLP defines a Part-time faculty position as an adjunct faculty, clinical instructor, or part-time faculty.
Likewise, 1 Part-time faculty position + 1 Clinical Educator position / or Clinical Preceptor.
Third, the Health Resources and Services Administration does offer other grants, like the Nurse Corps Loan Program. However, generally the number of accepted applicants are higher and the actual requirements post-graduation are more difficult than the Nurse Faculty Loan Program.
The fourth main NFLP advantage is that the HRSA allows the borrower the option to terminate at any point in time. Obviously, there are changes in terms of the 3% interest rate being increased to the market rate and the loan repayment beginning as soon as you early terminate; however, there are no early termination and penalty fees. Usually other student loan programs have hefty early termination fees and penalties. So, if you receive an exciting job offer in the private industry or have a passion to do something else, you can terminate your participation in NFLP (Nursing Faculty Loan Program) early.
The disadvantages of the Nursing Faculty Loan Program are relatively minor. First, one disadvantage is that the HRSA does not guarantee the funding each year as it is renewable. Therefore, you must re-apply each academic year for NFLP support.
Second, the overall length of the 4 year requirement is a long period of time for most people. If you are not willing to work as a nurse educator for the full 4 years, you will not receive the full 85% student loan cancellation.
Third, another disadvantage is that there are a limited number of schools that are participating in the Nurse Faculty Loan Program. There are only 81 nursing institutions in the United States that are participating in the NFLP out of over 500 nursing schools that offer a master’s level education or higher. This is less than a 15% participation rate. Thus, to qualify, you will most likely need to apply or be accepted to these schools already.
Lastly, one disadvantage is from a pure financial perspective, it would make more sense to go down the path of working in the private sector rather than as a nursing faculty. I’ll cover this in the next section.
Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness
The HRSA may offer Nursing faculty loans forgiveness under certain circumstances. First, the HRSA may cancel the total loans in the event of a permanent/total disability or death. Under this unfortunate circumstance, the nursing school may give nursing faculty loan forgiveness after conducting a formal due diligence.
In addition, the HRSA may defer NFLP loans up to an additional 3 years if the borrower is under active duty in the uniform services (Army, Navy, Maine Corps, Air Force, etc.) or serving as a volunteer under the Peace Corps. Furthermore, NFLP loans may also be deferred for up to an additional 10 years if the borrower continues pursuing advanced professional training via post-doctoral / fellowship in nursing.
NFLP KPIs for Schools
Ultimately, the purpose again of the NFLP is to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty. With that in mind, the HRSA regularly reviews the following metrics which the nursing schools must submit in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Nurse Faculty Loan Program. These KPI metrics include:
Firstly, the amount of funds disbursed to students and the default rate percentage.
Secondly, the umber of students supported with the NFLP and # of students who did not complete the program.
Further, the number of students who graduate.
Lastly, the total number of students who receive 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year loan cancellations.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting accepted in the NFLP?
The HRSA officially published exhibit forms which are given to nursing schools when administering the Nursing Faculty Loan Program. In short, I recommend reviewing the forms in detail so you understand the criteria and forms that the school will be asking you to fill in ahead of time. It is crucial that you convey your intention to become a future nurse faculty and show any background, experience or passion on nursing education in your application form.
Does the NFLP Make Sense Financially?
Let us look at the NFLP program from a pure financial and savings numbers perspective.
Scenario 1: For those Interested in Becoming a Nurse Faculty
The average out of State Nurse Anesthetist School cost is US$109,401. The maximum NFLP loan per year is US$35,000. For simplicity purposes, we will assume the borrower is able to max out the loan and the total NFLP loan is US$105,000. Upon graduation, rather than finding a CRNA job, the borrower becomes a nurse faculty for 4 years. The average salary for an Assistant Professor in a Nursing School is US$79,444. In other words, under this scenario, the borrower would earn US$317,776 over 4 years and be able to cancel 85% of the US$105,000 loan and interest, which is US$89,250 for the principal loan alone. In summary, total “earnings” for a nurse educator joining the Nurse Faculty Loan Program over 4 years is US$407,026.
Scenario 2: For those looking at becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.
The average CRNA starting salary is US$139,377. This number is quite conservative and much higher in many States. Over 4 years, a CRNA will be able to make US$557,508. This is a very conservative number because this assumes a 40-hour work week. For instance, if the borrower worked additional hours, he might be able to make 25% above the base salary. This would be US$696,885 over 4 years. Thus, the total difference between working for 4 years as a nurse educator in a nursing school versus a CRNA is between US$150,482 US$289,859. To sum up, this is the long-term 4-year difference in earnings for a CRNA versus becoming a nurse faculty under the NFLP.
Thus, if you are considering to participating in the NFLP on a monetary basis alone, it would not make sense to become a nurse faculty as the difference can be as large as a quarter of a million US dollars. This also explains the reason nursing schools are losing talent to the private sector. Furthermore, this also is why the Nurse Faculty Loan Program exists – to help narrow to monetary gap to encourage more advanced degree nurses to continue giving back to the nursing community.
Scenario 3: Early Termination
Of course, there is always the third scenario that you could take the NFLP loan and early terminate after graduation. There is little downside from this. Legally, what would happen is immediately after you decided to take a job in the private sector, you would be required to pay back the full loan over the 10 year repayment period with the market interest rate. In addition, there are no penalties or fines for changing your mind on becoming a nurse educator. However, I don’t recommend this for morale reasons and also because you may be taking away the funds from being given to someone who might actually be interested in being a nurse faculty, as originally intended from the program.
Best CRNA Programs
We spent hundreds of hours studying all CRNA schools and interviewing over 125 nurse anesthetists to create our exclusive list of Best CRNA Schools. So now you know what schools offer NFLP, your next research is to compare the Best CRNA programs with the Nurse Faculty Loan Program in order to see which CRNA schools are the best fit and which programs you should apply to.
Nurse Anesthetist Salary
As you’re interested in NFLP, be sure to check out our CRNA Salary Guide and CRNA Starting Salary. This is really important because it’ll help you decide and calculate for yourself whether the Nurse Faculty Loan Program is worth it for you.
If you are still a student or if you’re wondering how much a fresh CRNA can make right out of nurse anesthesia school, this information will be especially helpful. You might be surprised too! We spent hundreds of hours researching salary information from the BLS, the AANA CRNA survey from over 5,000 actual nurse anesthetists as well as from my own CRNA job offers after I graduated. In addition, different states have different demand and supply economics for nurse anesthetists, so our CRNA Salary by State Guide will help you see which States are the best fit for you.
As with all things in life, not all decisions are based on money alone. I 100% wholeheartedly recommend the Nurse Faculty Loan Program if you are interested in a nurse faculty career after graduation. The program is very generous allowing the flexibility of being able to work at any nursing school following your graduation. A quick search on Indeed shows over 9,000 nursing faculty jobs at many top universities throughout the country. It is great news that the US government is serious about solving the shortage of nursing faculty problem and putting money where their mouth is, especially for those interesting in pursuing the career of nurse faculty.
Graduate nursing degrees are expensive investments in your future. In general, for those who are not interested in becoming a nurse faculty, my recommendation would be to consider a cheaper nursing program if money is a concern. If there are two options of going to your dream nursing program which costs say US$200k, versus going with an alternative program that is still very high quality but with half or less of that in debt, I would recommend the latter.
Other Student Loan Options
If you are looking for student loans, I also recommend you check out FAFSA. They offer two types of loans, either the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and Graduate Plus loans. According to FederalStudentAid, students are able to borrow up to US$20,500 per year of unsubsidized Stafford Loans. The interest rate is approximately 7% with a 1% origination fee, with the interest accruing once the loan is generated. On the other hand, Graduate Plus Loans are more expensive. Students can borrow additional funds with approximately a 8% interest rate and 4% origination fee.
My Personal Experience & Recommendation
In conclusion, personally, this was one of my major concerns applying to different CRNA Schools. I was able to get into many top CRNA schools which were over US$150,000 but I ended up choosing one of the cheapest CRNA schools where I was able to avoid going into debt. When I spoke with other nurse anesthetists, many of them told me over 75% of what they know, they learned from real life experience (not textbooks and clinicals), and I wholeheartedly agree with them. In short, I highly recommend against going to an advanced degree nursing school if you cannot afford it or if you need to spend many years paying back student loans.
Are you thinking of applying for the NFLP grant? If you are currently a NFLP recipient and have any advice to give our community, please leave a comment below.