1:36 PM Eastern - Friday, March 13, 2009

SEIU Supports New Bill to Ease Debt for Nursing Students

Iowa Congressman Tom Latham and Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill on Thursday aimed at easing the debt burden on nursing students and combating America's nursing shortage.

According to a release from Congressman Latham's office:

Nurses who enter the program would be eligible to receive a loan repayment of up to $40,000 to obtain a master's degree, which is the basic requirement to become a nurse educator, or up to $80,000 to obtain a doctorate nursing degree.

Last year over 118,000 nursing jobs in the U.S. were left unfilled, and the Department of Health and Human Services has projected the nursing shortage could exceed 1 million by 2020. SEIU, with over 80,000 nurses and more than a million health care workers, has signed on as an early supporter of the bill.

"[The] legislation helps to address the faculty shortage by providing a loan repayment program for current students enrolled in graduate nursing programs and advanced degree nurses who have recently graduated," said SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger in a letter to Latham and Baldwin. "We commend this much-needed endeavor to offset high educational debt in order to become nurse faculty."

You can hear Congressman Latham answering questions about the proposed legislation here.

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