The field of nursing can be a competitive one. Making the move up from Registered Nurse to Nurse Practitioner may give you a competitive edge in your job search. In addition to financial advantage, career goals, and autonomy, competition is one reason many nurses are motivated to seek out an MSN, or even DNP, to become a nurse practitioner.
This is a big step. And while NPs are some of the best-paid nurses, their cost of tuition can total over $100,000 – making it challenging to find the “break-even” point on the horizon, especially for the many graduates who care for dependents as well.
But don’t let these numbers turn you away. There are several opportunities and resources to assist nurse practitioner students with tuition costs.
Scholarships for Nurse Practitioners
With baby boomers retiring, there’s now begun to be a shortage of nurses throughout the country. Because of this, many organizations and institutions are motivated to help compensate for this problem by offering scholarships for nursing students.
Look high and low for scholarships. After all, it’s essentially free money, and there are a plethora of options out there. In addition to general scholarships for nursing students, there are also scholarships for specific schools or regions, certain specializations, and demographics. There are even scholarships for unique talents or backgrounds.
Be sure to check with your school for scholarship options. These typically don’t show up in general scholarship searches, so it’s essential that you look on the college’s website and check with the financial aid office. Apply as early as you can before school begins because these are often dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for award opportunities from your state and private companies. And remember, after school has begun, you can still keep applying for future terms! Search again often, and you might find additional funding for your education.
Other ways to pay for nurse practitioner school
If scholarships aren’t enough to cover it, there are plenty of other ways to fund your nursing education. Use all the resources available to you to get the most funding you can and reduce your debt.
Like scholarships, grants are considered “gift aid.” While scholarships are typically based on merit, the difference is that grants tend to be based more on a student’s need. There are federal grants (which you apply for through FAFSA), as well as state grants. There are even grants offered from private professional organizations for nursing students in various specialties. Do some searching in your area and specialty to see what’s available specifically for your situation.
Sometimes called a residence or an internship, a nursing fellowship is an opportunity to learn as you work, offered through different health facilities or universities. Sometimes it requires you to commit to employment once your fellowship is through (which can be a great way to guarantee yourself a job once you have your degree).
A fellowship usually offers a stipend to cover living expenses, which can save you money as you complete your schooling. Nursing fellowships can typically be found on job search websites.
Loan forgiveness programs
There are several ways to qualify for loan forgiveness as a nurse. This includes working for some time in areas with limited healthcare access. Some states have loan forgiveness programs for nurses, as well.
Work-study and working through school
You can also look into work-study programs to help fund your education. If nothing else, you can always work your way through school. Find the commitment level that works for you – whether that’s part-time, full-time, or a per diem nursing job.
Saving and budgeting
You can save lots of money by eating in, meal planning, buying used textbooks (instead of new), and using public transportation to get around. As a student, you also have student discounts that can help you save money around your area.
Choosing your nursing program carefully can also save you some money. For example, there are many affordable online nursing programs available, many of which are accelerated programs, which could help you save even more by earning your degree more quickly.
Employer assistance with tuition
Some hospitals and health organizations offer tuition reimbursements for your schooling as you work your way through school. Ask your employer (or potential employers) if this is something they can consider.
Military or travel nursing
Going through the military to seek an advanced degree or specialization could provide you the opportunity to have your student loans repaid.
Another option could be travel nursing. Travel nurses often earn higher salaries and are even provided room and board, allowing you to pay off your student debt more quickly.
You don’t need to let finances get in the way of your goals. And don’t let fear hold you back from your dreams. With hard work and intention, you can pay off your nurse practitioner tuition. If you really want to shoot for the stars, it’s even possible to graduate debt-free.
This article was written in collaboration with Bold.org – an organization committed to fighting student debt. The average student today will graduate with more than $30,000 in debt and is far less likely to start small businesses, seek the highest impact careers, buy homes, or start families. At Bold.org, they believe that’s a problem worth solving.