How to Pay for Your Nursing Degree

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piggy bankDreaming of going back to nursing school but aren’t sure how to pay for it? Don’t despair. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to nurses to pay for nursing education, including low-interest loans from the federal government, scholarships and loan repayment programs.

If you’re a working nurse, your employer may offer tuition reimbursement to cover your educational costs. And you’ll also want to contact the financial aid office of the school where you’re planning to attend to find out more options for tuition assistance.

Low-interest student loans

  • Federal Student Aid Program: A good place to start is with the U.S. government’s Federal Student Aid Program. It’s free to apply, and you can learn more about the scope of available financial aid programs. Eligibility for some programs is based on financial need. The website has a lot of useful information and loan calculators to help you get a better sense of the total loan cost.

Nurse loan repayment

  • Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses: If you’ve received a Perkins Loan to pay for your education, you may qualify to have 100 percent of your loan balance paid off by the federal government if you’re working as a full-time nurse. Repayment includes the loan amount plus accrued interest. Find out more details on the Federal Student Loan website.
  • Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has a faculty loan repayment program for nurse educators from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program funds up to $40,000 in loan repayment for nurses who teach at eligible nursing schools for at least two years. Participants must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and meet the income requirements of a disadvantaged background. More information on eligibility can be found on the Faculty Loan Repayment Program website.
  • NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program: HRSA also offers a loan repayment program for registered nurses who work at a nonprofit hospital, clinic or nursing school with a critical nursing shortage. In return, the NURSE Corps program repays 60 percent of the unpaid nursing student loan in two years. The program is available to licensed registered nurses who have completed their education and are employed full time at a facility that qualifies as a critical shortage facility. Complete details are on the NURSE Corps website.

Graduate nursing school scholarships

  • Nurses’ Educational Funds: For over 100 years, Nurses’ Educational Funds (NEF) has awarded more than 1,000 scholarships to registered nurses pursuing a graduate degree. In order to qualify for an NEF award, the applicant must be a registered nurse, a U.S. citizen, enrolled full time in an accredited nursing program (master’s or doctoral) and be a member of a professional nursing association. Details are on the website.
  • Estelle Massey Osborne Scholarship: This scholarship is named after the first African-American nurse in the U.S. to earn a master’s degree. Minority registered nurses who are enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program in nursing are eligible. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and a member of a professional nursing association. The annual deadline to apply is March 1. Details are on the website.
  • Promise of Nursing Regional Faculty Fellowship: Registered nurses who are enrolled in graduate-level training to become a nurse educator may be eligible for a Promise of Nursing Regional Faculty Fellowship (PON Fellowship). Award amounts range from $1,000 to $7,500 per academic year and may be applied toward tuition, academic fees and books. Deadlines and details are on the website.
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