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Can you lose nursing license for not paying school loans?

Many recent graduates struggle with paying off their student loans. According to Forbes, the average student in 2016 took on $37,172 in loan debt. Many students end up needing to pay over $300 a month to pay off the debt within a reasonable amount of time. 

It is normal for graduates to struggle with making those monthly payments from time to time. However, nurses may worry over whether can maintain their license if they default on payments. A recent article in the New York Times examined this practice. Fortunately, those who practice nursing in New York will generally not have anything to worry about. 

Some states do punish nurses who default on payments

20 states in the country do take away licenses from nurses who fall behind on student loan payments. This punishment applies to many different types of professions, including psychologists, lawyers, teachers, firefighters and real estate brokers. These states include:

  • California
  • Washington
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Virginia
  • Massachusetts

Some of these states will even go a step further. For example, some people in Iowa have had their driver's licenses suspended, which only makes it harder to pay back the debt. 

Ultimately, this practice is ill-advised because it ultimately hurts the agency's efforts to collect debt payments. After all, if a person does not have a license to nurse or a license to even drive to work, then it will be next to impossible for him or her to pay off the debt.

Another damaging aspect of this practice is that in some cases, the person needs to pay to get the license reinstated. Arguments do exist that these practices best serve the taxpayers' interest. However, it simply seems particularly vindictive to punish people who actively want to pay off a debt. 

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