Tuition Assistance for Nursing Students

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If you’ve been thinking about going back to school to get your nursing master’s degree but are unsure how to fund your education, one frequently overlooked option is tuition reimbursement from your current employer.

According to a nationwide survey of nurses, only 8 percent funded their education through an employer’s tuition reimbursement program. Yet a recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found half of all employers surveyed offered tuition reimbursement for graduate school.

Funding Sources for Nurses

Hospitals offering tuition reimbursement

Some of the notable health care organizations providing reimbursement for education expenses include: Baptist Health South Florida, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Emory University Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Methodist Health Systems, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the University of Colorado Hospital. If you’re unclear whether your employer has a formal tuition reimbursement program, check with your Human Resources department.

Tips for asking for tuition reimbursement

If your employer doesn’t have a tuition reimbursement program in place, you can still persuade management to help fund your education. Here are some tips on how to ask for tuition assistance for your nursing education.

  1. Write up a business case of how your degree will benefit your employer. Specifically list the classes you will be taking and how the content directly relates to your job duties. You may want to create PowerPoint slides bulleting these points and present it to your boss.
  2. Point out the fact that more educated nurses at a hospital increases the facility’s chances of becoming recognized as a magnet hospital. Magnet hospitals, recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), have a more educated nursing workforce and retain higher levels of nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Only 6 percent of all registered hospitals are considered ANCC magnet hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association. By funding your graduate education, your hospital would move one step closer to this elite designation.
  3. Demonstrate how you can still be an effective employee while attending school. Especially if enrolling in an online degree program, the flexibility of the online learning format allows you to more easily juggle work, family and school.
  4. Timing is everything. If cash flow is a concern, take into account the company’s budget cycle. Many times a manager will have extra funds at the end of a fiscal year and will need to spend this money before a new cycle begins.
  5. Remind your employer about the tax breaks available for tuition payments. The IRS allows employers to deduct up to $5,250 a year for each employee for tuition reimbursement.
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