Want to become a registered nurse but don’t know how you’re going to pay for it?
Getting a degree in nursing has similar costs to getting other four and two- year degrees. The great news is that there has probably never been a better time to consider nursing school. Nursing will always be in demand, but the current critical nursing shortage in the U.S. means there is an abundance of financial resources available from many sources–public and private–to help cover the costs of nursing school.
Getting a 2-year associate degree in nursing is an affordable choice for a nursing degree and typically ranges from $4,600 for in-state students and $10,000-$21,000 for out-of-state students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
The average cost of a 4-year bachelor’s degree at a university or public college is around $20,000-$27,000 for in-state residents and between $36,000-$99,000 for students who attend out-of-state programs. Four years at a private institution averaged $80,000 during 2006-2007[1,1]
Some additional costs associated with becoming a registered nurse include uniforms, shoes, stethoscope, book fees ($1,000-$3000 per year), hospital insurance (which the school may or may not include in the tuition) that averages around $1,600, and the NCLEX-RN exam, which costs about $200.00. Taking an NCLEX-RN preparatory course is voluntary and fees vary greatly. Taking an online preparatory course is generally the most cost-efficient and convenient.
When looking for financial aid for your nursing education, one of the first things you should do, like all other prospective students-no mater the major– is to fill out the FAFSA form. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (www.fafsa.edu.gov/). This is the first form that you will fill out to see if you qualify for virtually all types of federal financial aid. This application can be submitted each year of schooling.
Some specific types of aid that may be available for nursing students include:
- In 2007 congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to encourage people to enter into various types of public service occupations. Nursing is a qualifying occupation. This program lets borrowers apply for loan forgiveness after they have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full-time by certain public service employers (www.federalstudentAid.ed.gov). Although this is not up-front financial assistance, over the long haul it can save you thousands of dollars depending on your schooling costs and loan interest rates. There are specific qualifications so be sure to check these out prior to considering this type of aid.
- Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program is ” is a competitive program that repays 60 percent of the qualifying nursing educational loan balance of Registered Nurses selected for funding in exchange for 2 years of service at a critical shortage facility”. Check out their website for further specific information at: http:/bhpr.hrsa.gov/nursing/loanrepay.htm
- A Nursing school scholarship application should be filled out to see what other scholarships, grants and loan programs may be available to you.
Special Grants and scholarships:
- If you know what nursing specialty you would like to practice in, you may be eligible for grants and scholarships offered by professional organizations and associations. You should contact the specific association that governs the specialty that you are considering and apply directly with them
- Federal Stafford Loans are federal student loans that are available to college and university students to supplement personal and/or family contributions, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Almost all students qualify for Stafford loans. Stafford loans are either subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on the student’s need. The benefits of a Stafford loan are low fixed interest rates, increased borrowing limits and no payments due while you are in school.
- Federal Perkins Loans are low-interest loans (about 5%) for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. The school you attend is the lender. This type of loan is made with government funds and the school you attend contributes a portion. This loan needs will need to be repaid to your school.
- Private Student Loans: these loans help to supplement where other financial aid ends and allows you to borrow the difference between what federal and other financial aid covers.