This article is going to help you figure out how to pay for nursing school.
If you’re like most pre-nursing and nursing students, figuring out how to pay for nursing school is not easy.
The cost of higher education continues to skyrocket out of control. This has left a lot of pre-nursing and nursing student nervousness. For good reason.
*disclosure: this article may contain affiliate links
The Cost of Nursing School
Many families are unable to pay outright for a college education.
The cost of a four year degree in the United States is anywhere between $9,970 to $25,620 per year (public university) and $34,740 per year (private university) (source).
The cost of attending college continues to increase and has been for almost 10 years. Students pursuing a degree in nursing are not the exception to this.
Students who would like to get their bachelor's in nursing can expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to north of $100,000 per year based on what school they choose to go to (source).
Some students have been able to find tuition relief by going the associate route.
Students getting their associates degree in nursing (ADN) can expect to pay between $3000 to $14000 a year.
All of those numbers look really high but it's not even the whole picture. Those numbers only look at the tuition side of the equation.
It's unreasonable to assume that number will be the only expense you would have in nursing school.
For example what about the cost of your textbooks?
If you’ve never paid for school textbooks before, you’re going to wish you hadn’t when you look at those prices.
In college, I've spent well over $1000 several times for one semester's worth of textbooks.
I've had one textbook that was a couple of hundred dollars by itself.
Other expenses would be your
- Nursing uniform
- Liability insurance your school will make you get
- Miscellaneous nursing school supplies like a stethoscope, blood pressure coughs and so forth.
All those alone could easily cost you a couple of thousand dollars by themselves, and that's being conservative.
Those are all school-related.
We haven't mentioned non-school related items.
If you have a family, you’re going to have to take into account cost of living related items.
What if you have young children and you have to put them in daycare? Daycare alone could cost you over $10,000 a year, just for daycare.
Between all of those things, you could easily be spending North of $20,000.
The last cost of nursing school I'm going to mention is the opportunity cost.
Many nurses don't think this way but when I went through business school it was a big part of how decision were made.
To break it down.
If you're are attending nursing school, you will be taking time and resources you could be doing other things and placing them towards your education.
So the hours you spend studying for med-surg nursing is time you could have spent doing something else.
The $30,000 you spent on tuition is money you could have spent on a car, a house or something else.
I'm not saying you should or should not go to nursing school based on this information.
Nor am I saying that nursing school is not worth it.
What I am saying is when you're making a decision of going to nursing school.
When you’re trying to figure out how to pay for nursing school, you should think about all your options.
If all these numbers I've thrown at you seem very overwhelming, don't fret.
By the end of this article we're going to show you how to pay for nursing school.
We’re also going to show you how to pay for nursing school without loans.
How to Pay For Nursing School
I'm going to start with the very obvious and widely used option.
Student loans have become a popular option for many student to pay for college expenses.
It's such a popular option that many have been saying that we're in a student loan crisis.
According to Bloomberg there's more than $1.5 trillion dollars worth of outstanding student loans.
This makes student loans the second largest consumer debt that Americans own.
The only debt segment bigger is mortgages.
Student loans have gotten a lot of negative press the past couple of years.
Student loans have been blamed for bringing down the economy.
Student loans have also been seen as the reason why Americans are
- Delaying having a family
- Buying a home
- Moving out of their parents’ house.
With all that said you might be wondering why bring it up?
Because it's something you're going to encounter and it's an option available for nursing students.
There are three different loan options available to nursing students to pay for college.
- Loan for Parents
- Parent Plus Loans
- Private Parent
- Federal Student Loans
- Private Student Loans
Loans for Parents
Parents have options to take out student loans to help pay for their child's nursing school.
They can either take out Parent Plus Loans or private parent loans.
Parent Plus Loans are loans backed by the federal government.
Private Parent Loans are loans parents can get through their bank to help pay for their child's college.
If you're a parent and you have a child about to go to nursing school this could be an option.
You would need to make sure to shop around and see what the best rates are.
I would caution parents to be mindful of what their retirement situation is.
If it comes down to whether a parent should save for college or retirement. You always pick your retirement.
Federal Student Loans
Federal loans as the name implies are loans backed by the federal government.
In a way the banks are willing to give the loans out to nursing students with no credit or income because the federal government has assured them they'll get their money regardless.
These loans are broken down into two types. The two types are subsidized and unsubsidized.
Subsidized federal student loans are loans that the federal government pays the interest for you.
Unsubsidized loans are loans where the interest rate is accruing.
In most situations you don't have to pay on the loans until after you're done with school.
The big difference is whether or not the interest is piling up while you're not paying on it.
Private Student Loans
Private Student loans are loans nursing students can take out privately to help them pay for nursing school.
These loans tend to have higher interest rate and less favorable terms than the federal student loans.
You might be asking yourself why anybody would take out private student loans? Not everyone qualifies for federal student loans.
While federal student loans tend to have more favorable terms it's important to mention they are a lot harder to get rid of.
What I mean by that is if you go overboard on these loans you could be stuck with them for a very long time.
It is almost impossible to bankrupt out of a federal student loan.
Loans, while an option, should not be your first option as a ways to pay for nursing school. There are other ways to pay for nursing school that don't involve student loans.
We're going to give some ideas of how you can pay for nursing school without loans.
How to Pay for Nursing School Without Loans
I started out getting students loans to pay for my nursing school.
Unfortunately, I was young and naive.
It didn't occur to me that I would actually need to pay back those student loans.
It sounds kinda silly when you think about it.
But it happens to a lot of us.
Something about student loans makes us forget or not think about the fact that you do have to pay them back.
Worst of all, they have interest attached to them.
So what do you do?
After I realized my mistake, I made some changes and was able to finish my nursing degree with no more loans.
These changes were not easy.
They're also not fun.
But for most people they're doable.
Before I begin I do want to mention that I do recognize that there are situations that might warrant student loans.
Everybody situation’s different and only you can really make that call.
What I would say is that even if you don't go through nursing school debt free, these tips are a great way to drastically reduce the number of student loans you have to take out.
Alright I've rambled on enough.
Let's get to how to pay for nursing school without loans.
1. Make a Plan
People wander into debt but seldom can they wander out of debt. If you’re serious about finishing school with little to no debt than you need to plan.
- When are you going to start nursing school?
- How long will it take to finish nursing school?
- What's the tuition cost of the nursing school you’re going to?
- What’s the cost of everything else (books, uniforms, equipment etc.)
- How's everything else in your life going to manage?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself to start forming a game plan.
2. Save up the Money for School
This looks different based on your situation.
If you're a traditional nursing student (young, no family, school is your full time job) this could be working summer jobs.
If you're a non-traditional student and this is a career change, save up the money to help with the transition.
I worked a lot of summer jobs saving up.
When the summer was over I was…
3. Working During Nursing School
This is not the ideal situation but for many it’s the only option.
If you have a family and kids to support you might not have any options.
Regardless, working is a great way to keep from having to take out student loans. When I was in nursing school I was working about 50 hours a week.
But that's what I needed to do.
I hated it then.
But I'm thankful now that I did that.
4. Going Part time
This is harder to do if you're in a traditional BSN program.
If you're doing an LPN to RN, an RN to BSN or getting your masters in nursing this is an option.
Going part time will lower your tuition bill per semester.
It will also make it easier to work.
Unfortunately this will increase the total time your in school.
5. Budget Your Money
Yes I said the dreaded “B” word.
Budgeting is you taking control of your money.
It's you telling your money what to do.
If you're managing your finances it'll make it easier to cover your expenses.
Even if you take out student loans for nursing school you still need to successfully budget the money to make sure you don't take out more than what you need.
6. Pick a School you can Afford
School selection could easily be the difference between you having no nursing student loans and you have tens of thousands of dollars worth of loans.
Nobody cares that you went to an Ivy League nursing school.
Nobody cares you went to the private school. It just doesn't matter for nursing.
The only thing that matters at the end of the day is you passed boards to get your nursing license.
Outside of that it doesn't matter. School recruiters like to tell you it does. In probably 99.9% of situations it doesn't.
7. Pick a school you can afford.
That might mean you have to stay in state instead of going out of state. It might mean you can't go to the same school your friends are going to.
What it does mean is that several years down the road when they're still paying their student loans off and complaining about it, you can sit back and know that's one less thing your money is going to.
8. Go to an LPN Program First
If you can go to your BSN, RN that would be most ideal.
We don't live in an ideal world and if you're trying to make something happen quickly you might not be able to wait on the prerequisites for nursing school or pay for it.
LPN school is usually shorter and cheaper and is a good option to change your circumstances and then go back for your BSN later.
9. Go to an ADN Program First
If you're going to get your RN license a BSN should be your first option.
It gives you more options and it makes going back for your masters of science in nursing easier.
With all that said your associates degree in nursing is cheaper. In a lot of hospitals there's no pay bump for having your BSN.
Programs to Pay for Nursing School
Above was more of a focus on you.
Below we're going to talk about programs and scholarships that'll help pay for nursing school.
1. Do Hospitals Help Pay for Nursing School?
When trying to figure out ways to pay for nursing school you might end up asking yourself
“Do hospitals help pay for nursing school?”
The answer to that question is yes they do.
I would argue they should be one of the first places you look.
With the demand for nursing still increasing and the demand for healthcare increasing as well it's not wonder hospitals are trying to help train and recruit more nurses to their facility.
A word of caution. Each hospital is different and each requirement is different so make sure you read the fine line.
2. Tuition Reimbursement
This is one of the more common methods.
Some hospitals will give you some money to help cover your tuition costs.
The amount can vary from a couple thousand dollars to more than that.
You usually have to be employed by the hospital in order to qualify.
Usually tuition reimbursements comes with a work commitment attached.
For example you could get $4,000 from them with the stipulation that for every $4,000 you owe them a year of service.
3. Work Study Programs
Work study programs allow you to get experience working at the hospital while they pay for some of your school.
The big difference between this and the tuition reimbursement is that you work for the hospital while going to nursing school to get this benefit.
But there might not be any work requirement attached after you're done with school.
4. Scholarships and Grants
Some hospitals do offer scholarships and grants based on financial need or some other requirement for nursing school.
Usually these require no work commitment. They're not very common.
5. The United States Military
When it comes to programs to pay for nursing school none is quite like the military.
If you're willing to go into the Army Nurse Corp, the Navy Nurse Corp or the Air Force Nurse Corp, the military is one of the best ways to pay for nursing school.
I haven't even mentioned you get paid to go to nursing school.
Typically they'll cover all your school bills plus give you a stipend to live off.
In return you commit so many years to the military branch you sign with.
6. The Nurse Corp
This is another program to pay for nursing school sponsored by the United States Federal government.
The program will pay your tuition plus give you a stipend to live off.
In return after graduating from nursing school you have to go work in a critical shortage facility in an underserved area as a nurse.
If you already know you're going to be moving to a small town then this is a program you really need to look into.
7. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA as it's more commonly know is a form you have to fill out if you're trying to get federal assistance for nursing school.
Federal loans or federal scholarships, grants, and work study all require that form.
The government uses the information you put in the form to calculate what your financial need status is.
Even if you don't think you'll qualify or you don't want the federal loans you still should fill out the application.
Many outside scholarships, not to mention university scholarships, require it as part of their application process.
I haven't had to deal with it in awhile but the last time I did it was a lengthy process with a lot of questions so prepare yourself.
As you can see there's a lot of things you can do to pay for your nursing school.
While we've given you a lot of options it's important to mention that school selection will have the biggest impact to how easily you can pay for your nursing degree.
The key things to remember is to pick a nursing school that's in state.
Pick an in state public nursing school that's reasonably priced.
If you do end up taking out student loans it's not the end of the world.
There's a smart way to do it.
The smart way is to only take out what you need.
After you're done with nursing school figure out a plan to pay back those student loans.
To help you we've listed articles below that will guide you in that process.
As a nursing student you need to learn how to budget.
If you don't learn how to budget it's going to be hard to get through nursing school with minimal debt.
So checkout budgeting for nursing students.
Lastly you'll be happy to know that we've created steps to help you payback your nursing student loans.
Check how to pay back nursing student loans.
Or save it for when you will really need it.
Any other ways to pay for nursing school we missed?
I hope you got value out of this article.
Please take a second to share this article so we can educate other nursing students.