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Nurses in Texas: Lots of debt could mean no license

It seems astonishing to even consider, but many nurses and other professionals with student loan debt in Texas could lose their licenses to work if they fall into trouble with that debt. The idea is that if nurses know their job is at risk, they will find a way to pay that debt.

It might be a decent idea in theory, but is it effective in reality? With some people, it can be. In many cases, though, it is not. After all, if nurses could afford to pay back their loans, they would already be doing so. Is it fair to ask a nurse to choose between groceries and rent or a student loan payment?


It seems that one of the best ways to get student loans paid back is to ensure that payers have a job. So, this practice comes across as even more self-defeating when framed in that context. A nurse who loses his or her job has even less money with which to repay a student loan.

Renewal blocked

Nurses in Texas do not “lose” their licenses, per se. That is, if their license is valid and current, it is unlikely the state will decide out of the blue to deem it invalid. What happens is that when the license comes up for renewal, the state may decide not to renew it. If the nurse does manage to agree to a payment plan or to come up with the funds to bring student loans current, he or she must then pay another fee to get the nursing license back.

Teachers in Texas face this problem too. In fact, as of November 2017, there were 390 teachers in the state who lack teaching certifications because of student debt.

Not alone

Texas is not alone in having these practices. States such as Georgia can strip licenses from nurses and others who fall into certain types of debt, and some states even take away driver’s licenses. (Texas does not.) Nurses who fear they are in danger of their license not being renewed may find it helpful to contact an attorney as early as possible.