My Daughter Studied to be a Nurse But is Buried in Student Loans. – Kim

“Dear Steve,

My daughter and her husband, both 27, are expecting their first child next year. My daughter has nearly $100,000 of student loan debt including several private loans. She is a nurse but has been unable to get the hospital-based job she hoped for when she started school, and she is making about $20,000 less a year than she expected to make. She also spent two years working retail at minimum wage because she was unable to get a nursing job at all. Underserved areas turned her down because she was not a minority and/or did not have two years hospital experience and/or did not have specialized advanced training. The military turned her down because she has asthma and carries an emergency inhaler.

Her husband also has multiple student loans. He has a Masters Degree in Music Performance and is teaching music at a grade school two days a week. He also works almost full-time at a sporting goods store to help make ends meet.

Their student debt is killing them, and that is with IBR and some deferred loans. They spent a year living in one room in his parent’s basement and finally were able to move to a one-bedroom apartment in a sketchy area and buy a small car several months ago.

Can you offer any advice or even hope for them? Healthcare and education seemed like fairly safe bets when they entered school, but by the time they graduated there were no jobs. I’d love to help them out; but my husband has been out of work for two years, and we’re barely scraping by ourselves. (BTW we both have college degrees, too.) A college education and hard work used to be the keys to upward mobility in this country, but not any more. Is there hope for any of us?


Dear Kim,

Is there hope? Absolutely. But hope and ease of solution are often two different things.

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If jobs are in sort supply for your expertise you may have to move to a different part of the country and land a job. Some parts are booming and can’t hire people fast enough. Look at Bismarck, North Dakota as an example of a boomtown. Others are just plain dead.

If they are on the IBR at this point and there are other federal loans hanging out there, then consolidating all the federal loans might be worth looking into here.

As far as the private student loans go, there are no good solutions for them. It’s just a bad situation.

I feel the pain your family is under with the loans. But it’s a gamble. Student loans are one of the worst debts you can owe but people get buried in them trying to get an education. The bottom line is you have to gamble that the education is going to result in suitable employment to service the loans. If it doesn’t, well, that’s not a good place to be.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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2 thoughts on “My Daughter Studied to be a Nurse But is Buried in Student Loans. – Kim”

  1. Hi Kim,

    I’m someone with major student loan debt too and the majority of my loans are also private.  There are a few companies still doing consolidation of private student loans.  http://www.finaid.org/loans/privateconsolidation.phtml  I’m working on an application for CUStudent loans.  It probably won’t help a lot, but if her private loans are consolidated and the interest rate reduced it might ease their current burden a little bit. 

    I’m not in the nursing field at all, but has she tried just requesting to be put on a list to work on-call, just as a way to get her foot in the door?  I’m not sure where you live, but there are temp places that can help you find work if you have no degree or jobs that just require any college degree.  I worked through Robert Half’s OfficeTeam as a Receptionist/Admin and made $10-$18 an hour while I was in college.  My roommate who studied psychology used a recruiter to be placed as a mortgage underwriter.  Not her dream job, but a liveable salary.  There are many of these temp or contract-to-hire companies that may not offer her the job she wants, but something that pays a little better.  Other companies are Kelly, Aerotek, Apple One.  Many more can be found by searching for Staffing Agencies, Staffing Services, etc. 

    It sounds like they have really been through a lot.  Is it a possibility for your daughter and her husband to look into relocating?  Like Steve said, some places are thriving and some places just aren’t…  I hope that she can find something soon.  I’m sorry I could not be more help.


    • P.S.
      Kim I know your daughter’s husband is working a 2nd job, but has he considered doing private music lessons on the side?  And has your daughter considered doing home health care as an independent contractor?  Both might be great ways they can use their talents! 


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