Cost of Schooling
Attending nursing school is similar to other types of college programs in that there are costs associated with completing your studies and working toward graduation. How much you will pay in tuition and fees depends on the type of degree that you are seeking and which program you will attend.
Nursing schools charge tuition in a manner similar to standard college tuition. Since many nursing schools are part of a college or university, the costs of tuition may be similar or the same as attending the school for another degree, and are often charged per credit hour or unit. There may also be fees associated with admission and attendance at the school, such as an application fee, costs for materials, and class fees. These extra costs are typically required of all students attending the school, including nursing students.
In addition to standard tuition and fees, nursing students may pay extra costs for the purposes of clinical training. This may involve paying fees to practice student nursing at some locations and the purchase of a uniform and stethoscope. You may also need to invest in a solid pair of shoes to wear while working clinical hours, as you will spend a lot of time on your feet. In addition to costs required for clinical practice, you will be responsible for buying books needed to study for your classes. You may use some of these books through your nursing career and may not want to sell them back to the bookstore when the term is complete. Because nursing studies many different areas of physical and mental health, each subject usually requires a different book, which can add up over the course of the program.
The cost of schooling also depends on the length of the program you are attending. A private school or university that offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing will be more expensive than one offering a two-year program for an associate’s degree or nursing diploma. The location of the school you are planning to attend also plays a role in the amount of tuition. If you are staying close to home to attend school, you can expect to pay in-state tuition, but if your school is in another state, your tuition rates will be higher when you pay out-of-state tuition.
Depending on the school that you choose, you can expect to pay several thousand dollars for a nursing education. Costs to consider as of 2010 ranged from $5,500 for an associate’s degree from a community college to approximately $40,000 for a bachelor’s degree from a university or private institution. Graduate courses in nursing may have higher levels of tuition, as some programs charge more for students to work toward a master’s degree. Depending on the specific area of your master’s degree, you may also be charged fees to work in clinical practice. For example, most nurse practitioner programs require students to work a specific number of clinical hours, which may invoke fees as well as the price of a uniform and reference guides while practicing.
Some people think that choosing to get a nursing degree through an online program will be a less expensive option. While this may be true in some cases, check the figures carefully before signing up. Some programs cost less, but require technical fees or costs to be a distance student. Other programs may cost the same or more as a standard nursing program. Some programs are completely online and may offer courses at cheaper prices, while other series are available through universities. The latter types of programs offer many of the positive aspects of studying nursing through a specific school, but with the flexibility of an online program. Many of these programs do require the same amount of tuition as if you were to take traditional classes.
Just like studying for other types of degrees, an education in nursing costs money. The costs of going to school may make studying nursing a daunting task. If you plan ahead, you can be better prepared for some of the expenses associated with pursuing this course of study.
The costs associated with paying for college can be difficult to shell out, and nursing school may have its own challenges because students often do not have time to work much outside of school. Tuition costs vary by institution, with some universities and private nursing schools requiring substantial amounts for tuition, books, and clinical practice. Other programs, such as those offered through community colleges or some online degree programs, may be more affordable, but the overall experience will be different.
Most nursing schools have a financial aid office where you can find information about applying to receive money to help with paying for school. These offices are designed to guide students through the process of applying for aid and helping each student determine what potential loans, grants, and scholarships he or she may qualify for. Various forms of financial aid exist, such as loans, which provide a sum of money that must be repaid after graduation; grants, which is money that is given by the government or an administrative organization that can go toward the costs of school and does not have to be repaid; and scholarships, which are often awarded based on merit or need and also do not need to be repaid.
Nursing students spend a great deal of their time in the classroom or in clinical practice. Combined with the time needed for study, many nursing students have difficulties working at a job with enough income to pay for school expenses. Some nursing students may need financial aid to live on in order to pay for housing and food in addition to the costs of tuition.
Financial aid is often available for those who need it, if you know where to look and seek the help of others. While paying tuition and fees to attend nursing school may run a high cost, the results are usually worth the education that you will receive and the career that you begin after graduation.
Attending nursing school may be your dream, but paying for tuition and fees can cause a stumbling block in the way of achieving your goals for graduation. Nursing schools charge various amounts for tuition, fees, and costs associated with clinical practice, student uniforms, and books, depending on the institution. While some fees can be manageable, many students must apply for some form of financial aid to help offset the costs of attendance.
Scholarships are a means of providing money for students to help pay for the cost of school. Scholarships are awards of a certain amount of money, usually a sum that is decided before they are awarded, and given to a student based on various factors. Most scholarships require an application process, which outlines the qualities and characteristics of the students they are looking to give the money to. They are often presented through charitable organizations, trust funds in memory of a person, or businesses or government institutions that wish to help nursing students succeed.
The application process for a scholarship varies, depending on the type of award, and there is typically a deadline for applicants so the final recipient can be determined. Awards may be based on achievements, such as extracurricular activities, community service, and previous honors. They may consider a student’s educational background as well, such as those students who have kept a minimum grade point average or someone who excelled in a particular sport in high school.
Some nursing scholarships are based on a student’s personal background and are awarded to promote diversity among the nursing profession. Examples of these situations are scholarships for minority students, awards given specifically to women, and those awarded to students who have a parent serving in the U.S. military. Scholarships also may be awarded based on financial need, and prospective students may need to give confirmation of their current income, assets, and financial liabilities. They may also need to provide the same information for their parents if they are considered to be under their parents’ financial care.
Most nursing schools have a financial aid office that informs students of available scholarships and can help you to apply for the ones in which you qualify. Some larger schools have scholarships available that are designed specifically for students of the school, such as those that may be awarded in memory of an alumni member. There are also hundreds of other scholarships that are available between schools, meaning a student does not need to attend a certain nursing school to be a recipient.
Scholarships may be general and based on college tuition, recognizing a student who achieves the award’s qualifications, or they may be specific to nursing students and awarded only to those studying nursing. Potential applicants can apply for both types, and depending on your overall tuition costs and your financial need, you may want to consider applying for as many scholarships as you qualify for. Many scholarships cover only a partial cost of tuition and fees, which can make a dent in the amount you have to pay. In most cases, you can apply for more than one scholarship if you still have fees to cover. Being awarded a scholarship is an honor that shows the donor saw your potential and wants to award you the money you need to pay for school.
Student loans are an option to provide money for nursing school if you do not have the means to pay through other venues. Student loans provide a sum of money to college students to pay for items such as tuition, fees, or cost of living. Following graduation, the student must then repay the loan, typically with interest, although some programs offer low-interest loans in order to promote their services.
Student loans can be available through a range of organizations, with various rates of interest and conditions for taking the loan. Some banks offer college loans for qualified applicants, while in other situations, the federal government provides the money for the loan, and repayment may be managed through a third-party organization.
The Stafford loan offers money through a program that allows a student to attend school without making loan payments. The repayment period begins after graduation. The Stafford loan may be subsidized, which means a student does not pay interest on the loan while in school. This type of loan usually requires you to show financial need. Unsubsidized Stafford loans accumulate interest while you are in school, but you can add the interest to the total amount of the loan to begin making payments following graduation.
Stafford loans typically have a variable interest rate, meaning the amount can fluctuate from year to year. One year, your payments may be a certain amount, but that changes the following year. Although the interest rate may fluctuate, it usually has a cap, meaning the interest rate will not rise above a certain level. For example, an interest rate may vary between 6% and 8%, but the total interest will not go above 8.25%. Typically, subsidized loans may have an upper limit in amount, with additional funds from unsubsidized sources. You usually need to reapply each year for disbursement every semester to pay for your costs.
A Perkins loan is a type of loan that lets you borrow from your school. This type of loan requires proof of financial need and has a set interest rate throughout the life of the loan. You are not expected to repay the loan until after graduation. In many cases, you may borrow up to the total amount of tuition, fees and living expenses needed, although there is a maximum amount of $40,000 for any program of study, including nursing.
A PLUS loan is designed for parents who have a financially dependent college student. This type of loan offers a set interest rate and is not based on financial need; typically, parents must pass a credit check to qualify. The PLUS loan is an option for students who have depleted other sources of income for tuition, such as scholarships, grants or private loans. The money for a PLUS loan is from the federal government and is disbursed in payments throughout the school year to pay for expenses.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration offers a loan that is specifically designed for nursing students. Called Nursing Student Loans, this program provides money for nursing students who demonstrate financial need and are enrolled in a program at least half-time. Nursing schools that have a financial aid office can help to identify students that are in need of this resource to pay for college. This type of loan is low-interest and is offered to students pursuing an education in nursing at any level, as the program recognizes the importance of building up the profession of nursing and offers help to those who want to study this subject but who may need financial assistance.
The cost associated with attending nursing school may be offset by receiving a grant to help pay for expenses. Grants are funding sources that, like scholarships, are awarded after an application process and often a demonstration of financial need. Grant money that is awarded does not need to be repaid.
Some grants are available to college students in general, while others are offered specifically for nursing students. The money from a grant comes from the federal government and other institutions such as charitable organizations who want to promote the nursing profession. Grants may be awarded in set amounts that partially cover the costs of attending school, or a larger grant may include all costs of tuition, fees, and living expenses.
The Federal Pell Grant Program is a method of providing money for college for students based on financial need. It is usually designed for undergraduate students, although some graduate students may also apply. Although it is based on financial need, the Pell Grant also considers the costs of school attendance and your status as a student, whether you attend part-time or full-time. It offers a maximum amount each year; for example, the total amount awarded for the 2010 –2011 school year was $5,550.
Some grants may come from state-funded resources and may be specifically designed for nursing students. These types of grant programs often offer money to help promote the nursing profession and to bring more potential students into this area of study. Grants may be offered to those who qualify through specific criteria beyond financial need, such as grants for minority students or those with excellent academic records. The goal of these types of grants is to attract more students into nursing schools to study without having tuition costs stand in the way.
Some professional nursing organizations may offer grants, particularly if a student plans to work in a specific area following graduation. For example, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses offers grant money to undergraduate and graduate nursing students who desire to work in the specialty of critical care. Applicants must also be members of the association to qualify.
Contact the financial aid office of your school to determine if you qualify to receive a grant to help pay for your education. Nursing schools have financial aid offices that help students find ways to pay for their tuition and can point you toward the grants that you may qualify for. The first step in applying for a grant is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which requires your background and financial information but can help to match you with the grants that you may be eligible for. The FAFSA is designed to help students pay for college by taking known sources of money and awards and matching them with eligible students to apply; often, students may not be aware that they are qualified to receive money. By filing this form and applying for grants, you are one step closer to finding the resources you need to get you through nursing school, which is another factor to consider when pursuing nursing as a career.
Financial Aid Advice
Paying tuition and fees may cause a stumbling block on the road toward becoming a nurse. In fact, many people choose not to pursue college or nursing because of difficulties paying the costs. With a little help, you can find resources for financial aid to help you pay for school and to work toward your goal of becoming a nurse.
Before starting your search, begin by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available at the financial aid office of most nursing schools or online. Almost every two- and four-year college in the United States uses this form, and you can apply at both the undergraduate and graduate levels of school. You must submit or renew your application each year during school, and financial aid is distributed on a first-come/first-served basis, so consider applying early. You may file a FAFSA beginning January 1 of the next school year.
The FAFSA determines how much you and your family are able to contribute to the cost of attending college. Based on your information, it can then tell you how much money you are eligible to receive from the U.S. government in the form of grants or federal work-study programs. When you file the FAFSA, you will need your financial information at hand, such as bank statements and tax filings, which will help to determine your eligibility. Although you can start the process in January, you may want to first file your taxes for the previous year, as this will provide an update on your current financial situation. Aside from the time it takes to fill out the information, filing the FAFSA is free.
When you are thinking of paying for college, it is always helpful to plan ahead.
Although you may have a guidance counselor or financial aid office that might help you find out what you need, research what information you can find on your own as well. You may discover some sources of money that you didn’t know existed. Apply for the FAFSA, even if you think you may be overqualified. There may be plenty of scholarships available through your school or you can find many online. If you take the time to read about their requirements and file the needed paperwork, you may end up with an award.
When you are planning for nursing school, try to start early, even before your senior year of high school. Visit the schools you are interested in before you apply and always ask to speak with someone from the school’s financial aid office. They may have information about scholarships or work-study programs that are specific to their own students.
If you are out of high school or considering returning to school to study nursing, you can still apply for financial aid. Many scholarships exist that are designed specifically for nontraditional students, and some grants are available that are created for students to return to school.
Consider all of your achievements, extracurricular activities, awards, and volunteer opportunities as information to build a portfolio about you. You can then present this information to prospective schools and sources of financial aid to boost your options in receiving help. Many scholarships are looking for recipients who have well-rounded backgrounds, beyond showing financial need. Some nursing schools may also work with you to provide an affordable financial aid package if they are very interested in you as an applicant. By starting early, taking the time to research all of your options, and doing some legwork, you can find money to help you pay for nursing school.
Once you find money to help you pay for nursing school, you must manage that money so you know what you are paying for and how to continue getting financial help for the future. If you have spent a lot of time looking for financial aid, you may decide to slow down at this point, but managing your finances is an essential part of paying for and staying in nursing school.
After you have filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and received information about your potential sources of help, organize your information by storing all paperwork into files. If you have applied to several nursing schools, keep a separate file for each school to compare costs, types of assistance, and other general information. Consider a separate file for each scholarship, grant, or loan that you have also applied for to keep information in categories. You will be getting a lot of information and you may talk to a lot of different people, and you do not want to confuse facts.
Once you start nursing school, you will be busy attending classes and working in a clinical setting, and it may be difficult to find time for a job. Nursing school is unlike traditional college programs because it takes up a lot of time for clinical practice in addition to necessary study time. Many students must find sources of income to help pay for living expenses in addition to college tuition. Keeping a budget of your expenses and the money you are bringing in provides a picture of how much you can spend on food, transportation, housing, and utilities. If you have difficulty designing a budget to live on while attending school, you may want to consider the help of a financial counselor who can compare your income with how much you spend. He or she can also give you advice for how to reduce some of your costs while attending college and where to save money.
Work-study is often an option for some nursing students, as it provides a small source of income to put toward college. The Federal Work Study program is available at schools across the United States and consists of part-time employment in which the wages earned go to pay for tuition and fees of the school. Students eligible for this type of program must file the FAFSA to determine financial need before starting.
Some nursing schools provide financial help for students by allowing them to work in a health care institution affiliated with the school. Although students are not yet licensed to work as nurses, these types of work-study programs are enriching experiences that provide money for income and tuition expenses while giving the experience of working with licensed nurses and practicing many skills.
Studying nursing will teach you many aspects of caring for patients, learning medical procedures, and examining the human body; but you will also learn many other practical facts, such as how to budget your time and your finances. Attending college is more than taking time to study and learn information; it is also a time to prepare you for your future. By organizing your information and budgeting your expenses, you are making decisions that will prepare you beyond graduation.
Last Updated: 11/22/2012