In an economic environment characterized by uncertainty and peril, nursing represents a bright spot in both immediate employment availability and future need.
There is a significant shortage of these coveted professionals, and the young person looking toward a rewarding and secure future would do well to pursue this noble vocation.
The path to attaining this goal is pretty well proscribed. Advanced training such as that attained through a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended to achieve the background necessary to qualify for the better positions offered in the field.
Although the path may be clear, the means to navigate it often are not. Along with a solid vision of where the nurse-to-be is going and the desire and discipline to get there, this motivational engine will sputter and die without the gas to fuel it: money.
As the need for qualified nurses has exploded, so have the resources available to make this career a reality. Federal, state and private funds can be tapped to make the dream come to fruition. The Internet has become a ripe font of information for tapping into these sources of funding.
Nurse-specific sites have been created just for this purpose and should be utilized to find the full array of available monies for a nursing education. Some of these sites include nursingscholarship.us and discovernursing.com, sponsored by the corporate giant Johnson & Johnson.
Unfortunately, where there is a need there is also an opportunity for abuse, and some sites trade on the desperation of applicants for profit. Be wary of the sites that will charge a fee for information readily available to the modestly motivated researcher.
The first and most basic stop in the search for funding a nursing education is the Federal Pell Grant, which can go as high as $5,350 per year. It is based on need, cost of attendance and whether the student is full- or part-time. While not specific to nursing, this application is often the gateway to applying to other resources through the educational institution the student aspires to.
The other common denominator in scholarship money across all disciplines is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), which can range from $100-$4,000 per annum.
Though not widely available, one of the most comprehensive scholarships available is offered through the Department of Health and Human Services. This scholarship is need-based, and for the 2009-10 academic year it provided money to less than 200 of the nearly 5,000 applicants. However, if fortunate enough to qualify for this program, the recipient will have tuition paid and up to $1,500 per month as a stipend. The graduating RN agrees to serve in a “medically under-served” institution for a period of at least two years.
In addition to the federal programs mentioned, there are many private organizations that provide help that is available nationally.
Nearly every state in the union has scholarships available to potential nursing student residents, though not all of these scholarships are sponsored through the states themselves. Private organizations and foundations provide funding for aspiring nurses along with some state funded programs.
Members Only and Private Organizations
Other scholarships that are offered are only available to members of the group through which it is offered.
Also to be included in this category are a number of scholarships directed toward helping minorities in meeting the challenges of educational funding, such as the National Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Association, to name a few.
The most difficult part of these types of scholarships is that locating them is somewhat time-consuming. Because their requirements are so specialized, it can take patience to determine if the qualifications are a good fit. It is well worth the effort, though. Search sites can be beneficial in this process.
Some of the professional associations that offer scholarships include:
- American Assoc. of Colleges of Nursing
- HOSA Scholarships
- Midwest Alliance For Nursing Informatics
- National Black Nurses Association
- SGNA RN
- Sigma Theta Tau International – Honor Society of Nursing
Private Foundation Scholarship Alternatives
Private foundations may create scholarships as endowments or memorial gifts. These opportunities often depend upon some aspect of the person’s life or individual contribution to a field of study. There are countless possibilities in foundation scholarships.
Some search sites that can help locate nursing scholarships:
- Campus RN
- Discover Nursing Scholarships
- Financial Aid & Scholarships
- Nursing Student Loan Program & Scholarships
- Nursing Web Search Scholarships
- Scholarships for Nursing
- Student Nurse Center
For those willing to return service for sawbucks, the military option can provide for both the education and the vocation of the budding RN. ROTC provides scholarship money in return for a military service obligation upon graduation, usually a four-year tour of duty. Graduates attain an officer’s commission and will gain invaluable experience they can then bring to the private sector or extend to a career in military service. The leadership skills that are emphasized in this path can have implications in regard to management pursuits later on in the nurse’s career.
Government and military scholarship opportunities include:
- Air Force ROTC Scholarship Opportunities
- Army ROTC Scholarships
- U.S. Dept of Health Grant & Scholarship Info
- Navy/Marine ROTC Scholarships
Getting loans is often an easier task than getting an entity to outright foot the bill, but that burden will follow the graduate for years after their education is over and their working years begin.
Stafford loans are the federally administered version of this assistance, and as such provide a relatively new benefit to the borrower. If agreeing to work in a high-need area, nurses can get up to 60% of their student loans “forgiven”. For the student who is unable to cover their educational costs through scholarships and/or grants and is forced to finance some of those expenses, this program is a fantastic opportunity to remove the bulk of the burden simply by performing the job they have been trained to do in venues that most need their expertise.
Just Do It!
If nursing is the path you see to forging a better future, there are more reasons to say “Yes!” to that dream than ever before. Financial opportunities abound for the aspirant that has the desire and the need. As the country’s requirements for these highly trained medical pros gets satisfied and the shortage abates, some of these resources are bound to dry up, so right now is perhaps a golden age to pursue your nursing dream. Never before have so many been willing to help you achieve so much. Take advantage of this moment in time, the crossroads of dreams and opportunity.