The process for obtaining financial aid for nursing school does not have to be time-consuming or complicated. Thanks to the many tools available, finding money today is easier than ever before. From education loans to free money in the form of scholarships and grants, students can apply for a range of options to best support their desire to move up from being a registered nurse with an associate degree to one who has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Understand the big picture with FAFSA
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in securing financial aid for nursing school. The FAFSA will give you a rough understanding of where you stand and how much you are able to pay out of pocket each year based on your financial situation. This is called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is not an exact number showing how much aid you will receive or how much you will need to pay out of pocket, but it does give you an idea of your expected financial obligation. In general, if your EFC is less than the cost of your school then you can expect some form of aid.
The spectrum of aid
The direct Stafford loan is one of the most basic forms of aid. For the most part, this is money you have to pay back but is controlled at a relatively low interest rate. Beyond loans, there are more than 200 available nursing scholarships. Scholarships range in value and in requirements, so it is recommended to review each one closely. Grants are also available, but have a higher degree of specificity in terms of eligibility. After completing the FAFSA and being accepted into a nursing program, the institution's Financial Aid Office can assist students in finding grants that may be available. Finally, many employers offer tuition reimbursement to cover at least a portion of the cost of enrolling in an RN to BSN program. Check with your current employer to review the tuition reimbursement program and the requirements, which often include service commitments.
Another kind of financial aid for nursing school is engaging a special interest group that offers large grants that cover tuition, fees and books in exchange for a multi-year service commitment. One such opportunity is the NURSE Corps Scholarship program, which offers funding for training and related expenses in exchange for a minimum 2-year service commitment at a NURSE Corps-designated hospital. The program even provides a stipend and additional funds to offset secondary education expenses.
Unlike many other careers, financial aid for nursing school is abundant thanks to the high demand for trained and BSN-prepared nurses. Many hospitals are eager to further the education of their nursing workforce. With hundreds of scholarship, loan, grant and employer tuition reimbursement options, it has never been easier to secure funding for a higher education.
Learn more about CSUSM’s online RN to BSN program.
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