Scholarships for Nursing StudentsReviewed by Abbie Jacobs, RN, BSN
Becoming a nurse allows you to make a difference in the lives of thousands of patients, whether you plan to work in a hospital, physician’s office, or long-term care facility. But it also costs a lot of money to get a degree these days.
Fortunately, there are several options to make college more affordable – some of which you don’t need to pay back. Most students rely on financial aid to help pave the way. This guide takes a look at those types that don’t require repayment – including grants, fellowships, and scholarships. Want more details? Keep reading to find out what it takes to score this type of funding.
Scholarship List for Nursing Students
Students with Disabilities
For Emergency Nurses
Students Interested in Oncology
Where to Find Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships
You can find college funding from many sources, including a few spots you might not initially consider. Schools are a great source to start with for both institutional and programmatic scholarships, grants, and fellowships, but plenty of other sources exist. Private foundations, local businesses, state governments, large corporations, professional societies, religious groups, and nonprofits all routinely provide money for college.
Before going too far down the path, make sure you have a good sense of how each type of award works:
- Scholarships: Lots of funders provide these if you can demonstrate excellence. Some exist for academic excellence while others focus on community volunteerism and leadership.
- Grants: While not always the rule, many grants are awarded if you can show financial need. Most require you to submit tax records from yourself and/or your parents.
- Fellowships: Fellowships are more common in graduate study and provide funding if you study a particular academic subject and agree to help out as a teaching assistant or researcher, or work with a specific population. For example, there are some fellowships that are awarded to graduate nursing students who work with members of the LGBTQ community.
When trying to secure these types of funding, make sure you start researching early. Many have deadlines well before school actually begins, so you’ll want to get organized. When applying for school scholarships, make sure you look over the website carefully. Sometimes these parts of the webpage can be hidden, so try typing “scholarship” or “grant” into the search bar. You can also check with the admissions department to find out about awards you may qualify for.
How to Win Scholarships
Obviously, lots of students want to win scholarships and pay less for college. Competition can be fierce for some of these awards, so try to go in with a game plan for success. For starters, it’s important to cast a wide net when looking for potential awards. Scholarships can be found for niche topics you didn’t even know existed, so there’s a great chance you can find one tailored to your experiences and/or interests as a nurse.
Looking for more tips? Check these out:
- Make a calendar. Scholarship deadlines can vary a lot. After you’ve found the ones you want to apply for, create a special calendar with each deadline and an alert so you don’t miss any.
- Follow directions. Every scholarship has a set of guidelines on particulars like how to format essays and how long letters of recommendation should be. Pay close attention to all these details. Even a small mistake can ruin your chances of winning an award.
- Go local. National scholarships often have the highest profile, meaning more students apply to them. But plenty of local businesses, companies, nonprofits, and state governments also offer awards that might be easier to win.
- Be specific. Scholarship panels read countless applications and essays each year, and they can start to blend together after a while. Spend time thinking about your unique qualities and how to talk about them in a way that makes you stand out.
- Ask around. Don’t underestimate word of mouth. Ask your guidance counselor, teachers, family friends, and your parents to keep an ear out for scholarships.
- Clean up your act. Because we live in the digital era, don’t be surprised if scholarship committees Google you. Before submitting any applications, search for your name to ensure they won’t find any surprises. Consider making your social media pages private during this time if you’re concerned.
- Proofread. Want to know the easiest way to be disqualified from a scholarship? Make typographical errors. After reading over your application and supplementary materials several times, ask a parent or teacher to take a final look before submitting.
Grants and Fellowships for Nursing Students
You’ll often see the terms grant, scholarship, and fellowship used interchangeably because each refers to money that you don’t have to pay back. But important differences exist. Make sure you understand them before applying for funding.
Grants are usually given to students who can demonstrate financial need. The federal government is a great source of this type of funding. If you’re an undergraduate who meets financial requirements, you can receive up to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 academic year through the Pell Grant program. Amounts change each year, so make sure you check the Federal Student Aid website for the current award totals.
State governments also commonly provide grants. As an example, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency provides the Pennsylvania State Grant Program. Look for a similar program in your state.
Other sources include local community groups, professional associations, local governments, religious groups, labor unions, or social clubs.
Fellowships, on the other hand, focus on providing funding if you’re studying a specific academic subject. While not always the case, many fellowships are awarded to students pursuing master’s or doctorate degrees. Many colleges and universities provide fellowships through individual academic departments. Organizations like the American Association of University Women also offer independent fellowships if you meet eligibility requirements.
So what makes these types of awards different from scholarships? Simply put, scholarships require outstanding accomplishments. Some look for top-tier GPAs or standardized test scores well above the national average. Others want to know how many hours you’ve spent volunteering in your community.
How to Win Grants and Fellowships
Like scholarships, winning a grant or fellowship takes time and dedication. If you’re really serious about taking advantage of these types of funding, you’ll need to start early and get your ducks in a row before sending out applications.
Many grant applications look similar to scholarship applications and may entail a similar process. Fellowship applications, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more intense.
Here are some tips to help you write a great application:
- Start with the highest awards first. Because federal and state governments often offer the highest amounts of grant funding, make sure you start on these early, paying close attention to requirements, and send them in before the deadline.
- Look for specialized awards. In addition to grants and fellowships based on major and/or financial need, plenty exist based on demographic information. If you’re from an underrepresented minority group, have a parent who served in the military, or other unique factors, seek out specialized awards focused on your unique criteria.
- Be expressive. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when applying for grants or fellowships is to provide generic information. Give concrete examples about yourself, use descriptive and clear language, and make it easy for the reader to get a full sense of who you are.
- Outline your interests. Because fellowships often focus on specific academic studies, they frequently require a research proposal. This is your chance to clearly outline what you want to study, how you plan to study it (e.g., data collection, interviews, etc.), and why this funding can help you achieve those goals. Sell the reader on the importance and excitement of your research.
- Ask for honesty. Now is the time to receive brutal feedback. Rather than submit an application that could use improvement, ask mentors, teachers, and other trusted advisors in your life to carefully review your application and offer concrete advice for improvement.
Finding scholarships, grants, and fellowships to make your dream of pursuing a nursing career less expensive is achievable. Even if you get rejection letters, persevere. There are countless sources of funding out there. Stay focused on your goals and remember that you can continue applying for new awards even after you’re in school. You got this!