Going back to school and earning a degree in nursing can open up your career opportunities. It has never been easier for a student to become a nurse with the multitude of traditional and online degree programs available . If you are interested in a nursing career, you may be interested in providing emergency care, and your future nurse training will allow you to branch out and provide patient care in a variety of situations.
There are literally dozens of different types of nurses, and you’re sure to find a field that interests you. An accredited nursing program allows you to earn your degree at an accelerated rate. Paying for school can be a huge source of stress. Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options available for students working toward a degree.
A scholarship is money that is awarded to the student, typically from either a educational institution or a third party, that does not need to be repaid. Scholarships are awarded to students for a number of reasons.
Depending on the type of scholarship, the recipient may have to consent to either work for a specific employer, or agree to other conditions in exchange for the award. If the conditions for the scholarship are not met, the scholarship will be withdrawn and/or the student may have to repay the amount.
Nurses are in high demand across the United States, resulting in many colleges, government institutions, and outside organizations that offer scholarships specifically for students of RN & LVN programs.
Some organizations may require students to compete in an essay competition in order to receive the award. When you are researching different scholarships, you will find that they typically fall under one of these three categories:
- Merit-based: This type of award is often given to students who excel in a particular area such as sports, academics, community services, or other aptitudes.
- Need-based: In order to receive this type of scholarship, a student must be able to prove that they (and sometimes their parents) are in desperate need of monetary support in order to continue their education. One way for students to find out if they qualify is by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and submitting to your school. Third party scholarships, and sometimes your college or university, may explicitly list what financial situations will qualify.
- Career-specific: These types of awards are offered to those interested in pursuing an education in a particular field. Many of these will be offered to nursing students who are willing to work in high-need areas.
It is extremely important to be aware of scams before you divulge your personal information, especially when applying to a scholarship that is associated with a third party and not your school.
A quick way to determine if the scholarship is fraudulent is if it asks for your credit card or any other personal information, like your social security number and bank account.
Always research the organization associated with the scholarship before applying. Your school’s financial aid department may have more information regarding scholarship legitimacy and where to find them.
Grants for Nursing School
As a nursing student, you will also be eligible for grants. Grants are similar to scholarships in that the student will never need to repay the money that they are awarded. They are based on financial need, military involvement, and/or tailored to specific career choices.
Grants are also available through colleges, government institutions, and outside organizations. The most common grant that is awarded to undergraduate students is the Pell Grant, and the amount given to students is determined by what they reported in their FAFSA application.
The FAFSA awards grants based on either financial need and/or military or teaching involvement. A couple of organizations that offer nursing grants are the Emergency Nurses Foundation Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There is no way to earn your degree, with the help of financial aid, without filling out your FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used nation-wide and allows federal and state governments, and accredited schools, to award students money based primarily on their financial needs. Students must fill out the FAFSA every year that they are in school to continue to receive assistance.
Since the FAFSA is such a large part of pursuing a degree, we have provided several facts and tips that will help you fill out the application and understand how it will help you finance your education.
- You and possibly your parents will need to complete the FAFSA. When the you begin to fill out this application, it will ask you a series of questions to determine whether you are “dependent” or “independent.” This is not related to whether you file as a dependent or independent on your taxes. Take a look at and click on the infographic to the right to discover your FAFSA dependency status.
- You will need to submit your income tax information. While the FAFSA may not use what you have filed to the IRS to determine your dependency status, it is used to ensure that all of your financial information is correct in order to determine how much and what type of awards you will receive. If your parents are also filing a FAFSA, then they will also need to submit their income tax information.
- File your taxes as soon as possible. The FAFSA has a really great tool that allows you to retrieve that data that you reported to the IRS into your FAFSA. Taking the information directly from the IRS ensures that their are no errors reported that could slow down your financial aid process. It is important to file your taxes early, since it usually takes a few weeks for the IRS process and make your tax information available for retrieval.
- Fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. Yes, there is a sense of urgency regarding financial aid. The financial aid well is not limitless, meaning that there is a preset amount of some types of federal aid that can be distributed to students nation-wide. Therefore it is important to apply early to be able to receive as much aid as possible before the federal funds are gone. The FAFSA can also take a couple of weeks to process, which can slow down your admissions process if you wait until the last minute.
- The FAFSA awards grants, work-study, and loans to eligible students.Work-study and loan amounts will appear on your award letter, but they do not automatically get applied to your account. If you would like to accept that money and apply it to your school account, you will need to contact your school’s financial aid department and follow their additional steps. Work-study and loans will be discussed more in-depth momentarily.
The FAFSA can seem daunting at first, and once you get the hang of the process you will realize that it is actually your best friend when it comes to helping you pay for school. Talk to your school’s financial aid department to learn more.
Other Financial Aid Options
Work-study and loans are the two other types of financial aid that you can apply for. The amount of work-study that you are offered is strictly determined by your school based off of what you reported in your FAFSA. To receive these funds, your school must be apart of the Federal Work-Study Program and they will then provide you with a part-time job.
The paychecks that you receive from that job come from your work-study award money. The type of jobs vary with each educational institution.
Hopefully you are able to cover your tuition costs through scholarships, grants, and work study, that way you do not have to apply for any student loans.
The loan amount that is on your award letter is what the government has determined that you will need in order to pay for school. This amount can be adjusted by talking with your financial aid department.
There are a myriad of ways to pay for a nursing degree. Between general and nursing scholarships, grants, and work-study, you will be able to graduate without ever having to open your wallet. On top of that, online programs are designed to be more affordable and caters to the working student. Check out more of our website to discover a degree program that fits your life and your bank account.