The health care industry is a growing field, and qualified individuals are highly sought after by both hospitals and private practices. In particular, nurses are in great demand. For those who are pursuing nursing as a field of study, the financial cost of tuition, books, and other materials can be substantial.
There are, however, many options available within the state of Florida to help lower or eliminate these costs for the student.
The Florida Nurses Foundation, for example, provides scholarships for students currently enrolled in a nationally recognized nursing program within the state. Candidates for this scholarship must have been a resident of Florida for at least one year, and must apply by June of each year in order to be considered for the following school year. Interested students should contact the Florida Nurses Association in Orlando, Florida at (407) 896-3261.
The Janet Colliflower Keys Nursing Scholarship Program awards $1,000 to two nursing students per year who have been Florida residents for at least one year. Applications must be received by May of each year, and those interested should contact the Miami Foundation at (305) 371-2711 or online at miamifoundation.org.
Student Loan Forgiveness
For students who do not qualify for the above scholarships, and have to take on the burden of a student loan to pay for their nursing education, an additional source for assistance exists upon completion of their schooling.
The Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program (NSLFP) is available to students under the following conditions:
- Applicant must be a licensed LPN, RN, or ARNP
- Applicant’s loans must have been used specifically towards a nursing education
- Applicant must work at one of the following institutions: state health care facility; Florida public school; county health department; federally sponsored community health center; teaching hospitals, or family practice teaching hospital; or a specialty hospital for children.
If the applicant is employed at any other Florida licensed health care institution (hospital, nursing home, etc.), the institution must match, dollar for dollar, the contribution made by the NSLFP toward loan forgiveness.
The NSLFP will make loan payments up to $4,000 per year, up to a maximum of four years, based upon available funds. For the 2009/2010 state fiscal year, no funds are available, but interested parties should visit www.nslfp.com for updates on future disbursements.
In addition to nursing-specific financial aid, the following grants are specifically available to Florida residents seeking tuition at Florida universities:
Florida Student Assistance Grant
The Florida Student Assistance Grant program (FSAG) provides undergraduate students with tuition assistance based upon demonstrated financial need. In order to qualify for this grant, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a Florida resident and U.S. citizen.
- Must not owe any amount to, or be in default on, any state or federal grant, loan, or scholarship.
- Must not have already received a bachelor’s degree in any other program.
- Must be enrolled for a minimum of half-time (6 semester hours) at an eligible Florida college.
- Must meet Florida standards for financial aid.
- Must maintain a minimum of 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Florida Resident Access Grant
The Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) provides additional assistance (up to a maximum of 40% of the total cost per academic year) to Florida residents who meet the following requirements:
- Must submit application for the FRAG no later than the first day of the academic year.
- Must have been a resident of Florida for at least one year. (Note: the FRAG requirements include the stipulation that relocation to Florida and one-year residency must not be for the sole purpose of education. Anyone moving to Florida specifically to meet residency requirements will not be eligible for the FRAG.)
- Must be enrolled in their first bachelor’s degree program.
- Must be enrolled full-time (12 semester hours) at a Florida accredited college.
- Must not owe a repayment on any other grants, federal or state.
- Must not be in default on any student loans.
- All male applicants must have registered under the Selective Service Act.
First-time applicants are not required to have a minimum GPA, but renewal applicants must maintain a minimum of 2.0 and have earned a minimum of 12 credits per term during the previous academic year.
In order to receive either of these grants, or any other state-funded financial aid, students must first fill out both a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and an application for the specific grant sought. These forms can be obtained online, or at the financial aid office of the student’s chosen university or college.
Nursing is an ever-growing aspect of the health care industry, and qualified, skilled nurses in the state of Florida can anticipate a career that is both financially and personally rewarding. For those with an ambition to find their place in this exciting field, there are many programs available to help make that goal a reality.