How Will I Pay For My Nursing Degree?
The Short Story
First of all, you can check out the scholarship program WE offer: the "Back to School" Nursing Scholarship program.
There are a variety of nursing scholarships and other programs available to help you bear the cost of your nursing degree. The first place to look for financial aid is at the school you’re planning on attending. Many of them have extensive financial aid programs that can provide loans, scholarships, and other forms of assistance to their students, which their representatives can give you more information on. Also, if you or your family members have served in the United States Military, you may be eligible for a wide range of tuition assistance programs from the United States Government.
The government is getting involved in other ways, too. The current nursing shortage has gotten the attention of legislators across the country, resulting in the introduction of a number of bills in Congress proposing grants or loan repayment for nursing students. Stay tuned for more information as the sponsors of these bills try to get them passed in Congress. With all the attention the government is paying to the nursing shortage, and all the efforts being made to provide funding to train more nurses, this is a great time for you to be going back to school.
Some excellent links for financial aid information are FinAid and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
For the majority of Registered Nurses, the tuition reimbursement program at the hospital where they work can be one of the best ways to reduce the cost of going back to school. Many hospitals will cover a fixed dollar amount of tuition. They will typically require you to have worked there already for a certain period, and also require you to commit to work there for a certain period following completion of your degree. If you work in a hospital right now, you should check with your managers to find out what the hospital’s tuition reimbursement policy is.
There are many different scholarships available for nursing students. We’re working on providing a more comprehensive list, but in the meantime, one very good, thorough resource is the AACN website. Look for “Financial Aid” in the Nursing Education section of their website. There are many nursing scholarships available to students of certain ethnicities, or with certain GPAs, or who meet other specific criteria. There is also a very good section on DiscoverNursing.
You should definitely apply for some scholarships if you can. While they’re competitive, they don’t have to be repaid like loans do, so they can really help cut down the financial investment you’ll need to make in your degree.
Nursing School Loans (Federal and Private)
There are a wide variety of loans available to students pursuing nursing degrees. The Federal Family Education Loan Program is the program through which lenders can offer what’s called Title IV funding, which totals over $80 billion a year in federal funding for higher education. Stafford Loans, which you may have heard of, make up over half of the total Title IV funds.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of options out there to help you pay for a degree. The personnel at the schools you talk to will be able to give you an overview of the best sources and help you apply.