If you're thinking about starting a new career as a Registered Nurse, you very well may be worried about paying for nursing school. With some creativity and effort, financing nursing school will be in your reach.
Do you get fantastic grades? Are you suffering from rheumatoid arthritis? Are you very tall? Do you have financial need? Then you may qualify for a scholarship! Check with the financial aid office at your school to see if they have scholarships available. After doing that, expand your search to other organizations, including scholarship search websites. Even if you do not think of yourself as "scholarship material" you might be surprised at what you qualify for. If you're lucky enough to receive one, it makes a big dent in financing nursing school! Plus, you don't have to pay them back!
Federal Aid (Pell Grants)
An amazing government program that promotes access to college education is the Federal Pell Grant Program. If you don't have a college degree and you demonstrate a financial need, as well as meeting other basic requirements, then you may qualify for $5,645 per school year (2013-2014). You don't have to pay these grants back, but to qualify, you will need to fill out a FAFSA, or a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA will show your financial need and can open up many doors to help you receive financial aid.
Have you served in the military and are eligible for the Post-911 GI Bill® or Montgomery GI Bill®? These can be helpful to finance nursing school. If you haven't served and are interested in working in the Army, Air Force or Navy, these branches of the military may offer to pay tuition if you commit to a four to eight year contract. These opportunities may vary widely, so it is in your best interest to talk to a recruiter.
Hospitals in your area may offer a program that will sponsor you to attend school in exchange for a commitment to work at their facility. These are not as common as they used to be, but it may be worth checking hospitals in the area to see if they have this program available.
Federal and Private Loans
Loans are another avenue to finance nursing school. Loans do require you to pay all money borrowed, with interest, so the amount borrowed should be considered as well as the type of loan. Studentaid.ed.gov, provides an excellent overview of the types of loans available as well as information about applying.
Private loans are a different story; they are usually more expensive than federal loans and do not offer the same flexibility in repayment. These loans are from banks and may require a credit check.
There are programs that will help pay off student loans if you work in public service or in under-served areas. Additional information can be found at myfedloan.org.
Becoming a nurse is a challenge and a reward. These tips will help to make your road a bit easier.