Paying for school can be a daunting task. Tuition continues to rise and students often take out loans, sometimes substantial ones, to cover expenses. Students interested in nursing programs may experience sticker shock from the price tag, but there are many programs available to help offset the cost.
The healthcare profession is in serious need of qualified RNs. Private organizations and government agencies have responded with numerous grants, scholarships, and financial aid packages to help meet that demand. These financing options help reduce the cost of higher education and make going back to school much more affordable.
Grants for Nursing Students
Many government and private organizations offer grants to encourage more students to advance within the field. Grants are awarded based on financial need and they do not have to be repaid.
A Federal Pell Grant is available to all undergrad students in financial need, regardless of their field of study. Legislation recently passed to increase the amount of Pell grants awarded. This allowed an increase in the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship to $5,550 in 2010 and $6,900 in 2019 (see the chart below).
Grants are also offered to nursing students from outside organizations. A number of medical and nursing groups encourage students to advance their careers by making funds available. Some of the organizations worth checking out include:
- American Association of Critical Care Nurses
- Alpha Tau Delta
- AAOHN Foundation
- Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other organizations and schools that also offer general grants based the applicant’s need and merit. Many LPN to BSN programs have funds designated for qualified nursing students. The school’s financial aid office can provide more information. Although the process may be tedious, cast a wide net and apply to as many grant programs as possible. The more you apply, the more aid you are likely to receive.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Scholarships, like grants, do not have to be repaid. The difference is that scholarships are often awarded on academic achievement or other special criteria. Nursing programs are one of the best sources for scholarships. Traditional colleges and universities and online nursing programs have scholarships available to their students. One of your first steps when entering an LPN to BSN program should be to talk to the financial aid office and learn about available funding options.
Government scholarships for nursing students are growing both in number and in dollar amount. The nursing shortage has prompted more government funding of healthcare training programs. Scholarships are often awarded annually and are renewable. Below is a list of scholarships that help support nursing students:
- National Health Service Corps
- The Nursing Scholarship Program
- Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students
You can also find many nursing scholarship opportunities from private organizations. These scholarships are often between $100 and $5000. Apply to as many as possible and you may qualify for a significant amount of money. Some of the organizations that offer scholarships for nurses include:
- Alpha Tau Delta
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Global Scholarship Alliance
- Health Careers Foundation
- Health Occupations Students of America
- International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons
- National Student Nurses’ Association
Remember to research general scholarships which are available to qualifying students regardless of their field of study. Also, don’t forget to search for scholarships in the form of tuition reimbursement programs. LPNs who have met their employer’s minimum time requirement may be eligible to receive tuition reimbursement. Check your employer’s policy on this matter.
Financial Aid (FAFSA)
All students are eligible to apply for financial aid through the U.S. Department of Education. Student Aid on the Web will help you get started on your application. If you’re interested in applying, it’s important to know what’s involved in the process. The government requires first-time borrowers to submit a variety of documentation in order to process your request. Follow the steps below to get the process started:
- Gather the following documents:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s License
- Income Tax Return for student and parent (if student is dependent)
- Bank Statements
- Investment Records
- Apply for a PIN: When you submit your FAFSA online, you can request a PIN from the U.S. Department of Education. With a PIN you can apply and sign electronically the FAFSA online and check the status of your submitted FAFSA.
- Follow-Up: Once you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email. A Student Aid Report is a summary of the FAFSA responses. Note that you also need the PIN to obtain the SAR from the site.
Make sure to review your SAR report carefully and make any corrections that are needed. Once you have the results, you will be eligible for federal loans and may also want to check out other avenues for tuition assistance.
Many nurses enter the industry as an LPN and then decide to pursue further training. An advanced degree means higher-paying jobs and better career opportunities. But don’t let the high cost of these programs deter you from applying. Free money in the form of financial aid is out there, but it is up to you to investigate and apply for it. A little research and perseverance can result in big payoffs.