The Time It Takes Nurses to Pay Off Student Loans in Every U.S. State

For nursing students, the culmination of their hard work is often marked by the symbolic white coat ceremony, celebrating years of dedication, late-night study sessions, and clinicals. However, beyond the excitement of graduation, nursing graduates face a new set of challenges, including the repayment of student loans. Utica University is deeply invested in the success of its nursing graduates and has conducted research in partnership with Orbis Education to find the states where nurses can pay off nursing school loans fastest.

Through a thorough analysis of average registered nurse (RN) and nurse practitioner (NP) salaries, as well as the cost of living across each state, we’ll unveil the states where nurses have the potential to make significant progress in reducing their student loan debt after graduation. Keep reading to see which states can repay their nursing school loans in the shortest amount of time.


To discover the average time to pay off student loans for nursing graduates in each state, we calculated the average salary of both Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in each U.S. state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We used a take-home pay calculator to estimate the exact monthly earnings of each position.

We also identified necessary expenses in each U.S. state, including rent, groceries, and utilities, and subtracted those from monthly income.

We compared those metrics to the average cost of a BSN degree for RNs, and an MSN degree (in addition to a BSN) for NPs, according to We also considered an average student loan interest rate of 5.8%.

Our calculations reflect how long it would take nurses to pay the cost of their entire tuition (excluding factors like boarding and college meal plans) based on the average salary and cost of living expenses in the state. We analyzed this from the perspective of putting all discretionary income toward tuition and putting 30% of discretionary income toward tuition.

Which States Can Pay Off Their Nursing School Loans the Quickest?

To expedite the repayment of student loans, many nurses choose to work weekends, nights, and take on additional shifts to address their student loan debt. We compiled a list of the top five states where registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) can effectively pay off their student loans for nursing school in the shortest amount of time.

In Alaska, by allocating every available penny toward tuition payments, an RN can pay off their student loans in approximately 2.45 years or 29.45 months. RNs in Alaska earn an annual salary of roughly $103,310, which is 23% higher than the average RN salary of $84,000. With total monthly expenses amounting to roughly $2,153.82, RNs in Alaska can pay off their nursing student loans in a short amount of time. If they chose to put 30% of their discretionary income toward their loans each month, it would take just over a decade for them to completely pay off their tuition.

Interestingly, in California, the average RN earns $133,340 annually and pays roughly $3,215.10 toward necessary monthly expenses. Despite the high cost of living, RNs in California have the potential to pay off their student loans in as little as 2.56 years. Allocating one-third of their extra cash to loans would allow them to pay off their loans in 10.59 years.

In Nevada, the average RN earns $96,310 annually, while the average NP earns $136,230, which is roughly 13% higher than the average annual NP salary of $121,000. If a nurse in Nevada dedicates all their discretionary income toward loan repayment, it would take approximately 2.72 years for an RN to pay off their student loans, and even less turnaround time for NPs to accomplish the same at just 2.47 years.

In Washington, the average time to pay off student loans for NPs is 2.72 years, assuming all money is put toward loans. Budgeting 30% of extra income for loan repayment would leave NPs in Washington debt-free in roughly 11.47 years. With an annual salary of $135,590, NPs in Washington have a solid income to allocate toward loan repayment and cover their monthly living expenses of $2,637.38. Likewise, in New Mexico, NPs can pay off their student loans in as little as 2.76 years. With an average annual income of $129,560, NPs in New Mexico have a solid financial foundation to allocate toward loan repayment while factoring in their monthly expenses of $1,920.99.

chart showing where nurses can pay off their loans quickest

States with Lengthy Nursing School Repayment Periods

In various states across the U.S., RNs and NPs encounter unique challenges when it comes to repaying their student loans. From extended repayment periods to variations in income and living expenses, the financial landscape differs significantly for healthcare professionals in different regions.

RNs in Maine earn an average annual salary of $77,410. Considering their monthly expenses of approximately $2,492.12, it would take them 5.42 years to fully repay their student loans, or nearly 40 years if they use 30% of their monthly income. 

In South Carolina, RNs face an estimated fastest repayment period of 5.31 years to clear their student loans, while NPs have a slightly shorter timeframe of 4.02 years — though realistically closer to 36.8 years for RNs and 20.35 years for NPs assuming they put just a portion of their earnings toward loans. RNs in South Carolina earn an average annual salary of $74,330, while NPs earn $109,130. Monthly expenses for both professions amount to around $2,241.58.

Interestingly, NPs in Maryland face a longer repayment period compared to other states. Our data suggest it may take approximately 4.25 years to pay off their student loans. NPs in Maryland earn an average annual salary of $119,650, while their total monthly expenses for rent, utilities, and groceries amount to $2,493.05. Similarly, NPs in Hawaii face a repayment period of 4.21 years to clear their student loans. With an average annual salary of $128,310, NPs in Hawaii have a relatively higher income compared to other states. However, they also face higher monthly living expenses, which amount to around $3,231.71.

How Does Your State Stack Up?

Curious how long it would take to pay off student loans for nursing school in your state? View our interactive map to find out the average RN and NP salaries, as well as the average time to pay off student loans for nursing graduates across the map.

Noteworthy findings from our data highlight that in New York, the

average RN earns $100,130, and an
RN could potentially pay off their nursing school loans in as little as 5.03 years. Furthermore, we discovered that NPs in New York can pay back their student loans in as little as 4.05 years. NPs in the state earn salaries of $134,785.00 while facing monthly expenses of $3,256.88.

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Closing Thoughts

Thinking about becoming an RN or NP in the future? At Utica University, we offer a variety of nursing programs, including an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program and a Transfer BSN program pathway, both of which feature three start dates a year for students to start their studies sooner, a 16-month timeframe, and the ability for students to transfer prior non-nursing college credits toward their B.S. in Nursing.

With career opportunities in critical care, geriatrics, and more, why wait to get started? When you enroll as a nursing student at Utica University, you’re making a worthwhile investment in your future. We help you develop the skills and confidence you’ll need to start a lucrative and rewarding career as a nurse. In fact, the average yearly salary for registered nurses in New York is $100,130, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Utica University can help you get started on your nursing journey with a fulfilling role helping others every day.  Contact an admission representative to pursue a career in nursing today!