Home » How to Pay for Nursing School

How to Pay for Nursing School

Becoming a nurse may be a noble calling, but even if you’re heeding that call, you’ll still have to figure out how to pay for nursing school. Both nursing and financing your education are challenging and demanding, but in both cases, once you complete the journey, you’ll never be more rewarded. First things first, how do you pay for your education? Thankfully, there are lots of resources that will help you focus on your studies more than your finances.

Two Financing Options: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Though some nursing students are able to pay for their education up front, that’s a fairly rare phenomenon. More often, students fund their nursing education with scholarships, financial aid or some combination of the two. Here’s a guide to both.

Financial Aid

midwife-feeYour quest for financial aid begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Most students in the United States are familiar with the FAFSA, as you can coordinate student loans, Pell Grants, work study programs and other types of money for school. Two things to understand about the FAFSA:

  • There are strict deadlines to meet to file your paperwork. Make sure you check the website for due dates.
  • Unless you attend an accredited school or program, you may not be eligible to get federal financial aid. Make sure you’ve selected a regional or professionally accredited nursing program so you can get federal aid and so any credits you earn will transfer if you decide to go back to school and get an advanced degree.

If you are a low-income student seeking an undergraduate nursing degree, a Pell Grant is an excellent option. For the 2017-18 academic year, a Pell Grant can cover up to $5,920 of your tuition costs. This figure is adjusted yearly to reflect the average cost of tuition. Though this may only be a fraction of your total tuition costs, you will not have to pay back the funds and you can always supplement the remainder with student loans, scholarships or cash for the duration of your eligibility. Qualifying students can use Pell Grants for up to 12 semesters of full-time education, or until you complete an undergraduate degree. Once you receive a bachelor’s degree, your eligibility ends.

Student loans are another popular part of the governmental financial aid picture. Most students these days need to rely on loans to complete their education. You may be able to offset your loans with a work-study arrangement or a scholarship through your college or university.


scholarship-iconScholarships offer a great way to fund your education. They provide debt-free financing and some even cover the full cost of tuition and books—with some left over for housing. Each scholarship is different, however, and you should not be shy about applying for multiple scholarships at once. You may even earn multiple financial aid awards.

There are many kinds of scholarships that are tailored to different sorts of students. Some provide assistance to specific ethnicities, genders or those with varying levels of financial need. Many will require a certain GPA, a qualifying essay or specific real-world experience.

Scholarship Sources for Nursing School

Scholarship options for nursing school are plentiful. Over the years, various endowments have formed to help nursing students achieve their goals in healthcare. The following list should be considered as a good starting point only. You might inquire in your local area about scholarship opportunities, as many cities and towns have endowments available from people who have contributed locally to the healthcare industry. Your college may offer its own scholarships or there may be civic organizations nearby who have established educational foundations.

Scholarship Wiki
This is a general resource for scholarships. Search the database regularly to see if you can find a scholarship that suits you. You can sort the database according to scholarships awarded based on your athletic involvement, ethnicity, income, academic achievement or community service, among other categories.

Here is a brief resource for different types of nursing scholarships:

Scholarships for Male Nurses

AAC Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program
This scholarship is sponsored by American Addiction Centers and awards $5,000 for first place and $2,500 each for second and third place. If you are specializing in an addiction-related field, and are a man, this is a great scholarship to win.
Adolph Van Pelt Special Fund for Indian (Native American Male) Scholarships
Established by the Association on American Indian Affairs, Native males can win $1500 for one year only (no reapplications).
Alexander Graham Bell Foundation College Scholarship Award
You don’t need to be an inventor to win funds for nursing school. However, this scholarship is exclusive men with some measured hearing loss. A minimum GPA of 3.25 is also required, so make sure you’re hitting the books. Strong leaders and academic all-stars can win scholarships in the $2,500 – $10,000 range.
CNA Certification & Training CNA Scholarship Program
With one short essay, you could earn a $500 scholarship.
Nursing.org Scholarship for Men in Nursing
This essay contest awards male nursing students $500 towards their nursing studies. Essays must be between 500-1,000 words and address the perceived gender bias in nursing.
The American Assembly for Men in Nursing Foundation Scholarships for Men
Members of this assembly are eligible to apply for up to $5,000 in scholarship money. You should have completed at least one term prior to applying.

Scholarships for African American Nursing Students

Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship
This scholarship is sponsored by B4 Brands and awards non-traditional, African-American students with $1,000. The prize is paid directly to your school, to be applied directly to tuition costs.
NBNA Scholarship Programs
The National Black Nurses Association sponsors sixteen different scholarships that assist black students with awards that range from $1,000 to $6,000. To be eligible, you must be a member of the association through a local chapter or as a direct member.

Scholarships for Latino Nursing Students

Alice Newell Joslyn Medical Fund
The BECA Foundation sponsors this scholarship for Latino students in San Diego, California, who seek a career in healthcare. This fund awards students up to $2,000 for their studies. Entrants must show financial need, motivation and social consciousness.
American Nurses Association Ethnic/Racial Minority Doctoral Fellowships
The ANA seeks to increase the number of PhD-ready nurses among underrepresented groups. Recipients receive tuition assistance and many other benefits that will push their scholarship to new heights.
Vanderbilt University Scholarship Programs
The William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship Fund is exclusive to minority students and is awarded based on both achievement and financial need. Vanderbilt offers many other scholarship opportunities, including six full-tuition awards, to its students.

Undergraduate Scholarship Programs

“A Nurse I Am” Scholarship
This scholarship fund is maintained by Cherokee Uniforms and awards nursing students $2,000 to help defray the cost of education. Entrants must write an essay in response to a short film.
ACLS Medical Training Scholarship Program
Give your new career a boost by winning a $1,000 scholarship from ACLS Medical Training. You’ll need to write a short essay with no typos or grammatical errors.
American School Health Association School Nursing Scholarship
Win $1,000 to put towards your educational expenses. This scholarship is available to students with a minimum 3.0 GPA who are in their third year of college. Entrants should be members of the association or you must submit a special form.
ANNA–American Nephrology Nurses Association Career Mobility Scholarships
If you seek a BSN or higher nursing degree, and are an ANNA member, you could win up to $3000 for tuition or books.

Get Started Today

There is no better time to enter the nursing field. Job growth is steady and climbing, and salaries are good, with chance for advancement into advanced practice nursing, nurse practitioner careers, and nurse educator and leadership roles. If you want to spend your work hours helping people, research accredited nursing programs and get started applying for financial aid and school programs today.


Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer RN-to-BSN programs.