Scholarships can help you offset nursing education costs

As costs for a nursing education have continued to rise, future nurses and those seeking advanced degrees are looking for creative ways to finance their schooling.

Scholarships aren’t always based primarily on grade-point averages. Some schools look more at a student’s circumstances and how it’s monetary investment could impact an applicant’s life.

For example, Independence University’s online nursing program offers the “Your Future” scholarship, which provides scholarships starting at $3,000.

Alan Hansen, PhD, vice president of online and the executive director for Independence University in Salt Lake City, said, “We’re looking more at your letters of recommendation and how the education will change your life.”

The university also offers half-price tuition for an advanced degree if a qualifying nurse completes a BSN from Independence. That reduction would cut the cost for a master’s degree from just more than $29,000 to $14,500, Hansen said.

“We always tell our students who are working through their bachelor’s degree that this isn’t the time to stop,” he added.

Here are other sources that can help.

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program is available to qualifying RNs, APRNs and nurse faculty. It pays up to 85% of unpaid nursing education debt. In exchange for the debt reduction, nurses work a minimum two to three years in approved underserved sites across the country.

To receive funding, RN and APRN candidates must work full time at an eligible critical shortage facility in an underserved area or an accredited school of nursing as faculty for at least two years. Nurses accepted into the two-year program get 60% off their total outstanding qualifying educational loan balance while pursuing an education. If participants choose to work a third year they can get an additional 25% off their original loan balance for a total of 85%.

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

Health professionals can get help repaying their loans — up to $40,000 — in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment to practice in facilities serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities with this loan repayment program.

In-facility programs such as Grow Your Own

As hospitals face nursing shortages, some health systems are paying for nurses who have an associate degree, and are already employed in the health system, to become RNs in exchange for a promise to work at the sponsoring hospital after graduation. Covered costs can include tuition, books and supplies.

One example is found in Dallas where Hospital Corporation of America and Methodist Health System have partnered with El Centro College Center for Allied Health and Nursing to help build the RN staff. This Grow Your Own Nursing Program is a partnership to train and educate their existing hospital staff to become registered nurses.

Military scholarships

The U.S. Army can help pay for a psychiatric nurse practitioner degree. The F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program may cover tuition, books and fees and include a sign-on bonus and monthly stipend for qualified applicants who have an active duty status in the army.

The U.S. Navy has a Nurse Candidate Program that focuses on specialized programs that offer an initial grant of $10,000, then a monthly stipend of $1,000 per month for up to 24 months. The service obligation begins at graduation.

The Air Force Nurse Corps Health Professions Scholarship Program offers two- and three-year scholarships for nurse corps specialties. The scholarships cover tuition, fees, books and supplies. Recipients also get a monthly allowance for living expenses. While on scholarship, recipients spend 45 days on active duty. After graduation they serve one year of active duty for each year of scholarship support, for a minimum of three years.

Federal loans

The Federal Student Loan Program can help nursing students pay for college with a combination of grants, work-study program and low-interest loans. To apply, students must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.


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