Looking for a career that allows you to help others while enjoying endless opportunity and a nice salary to boot? Then look no further than the noble calling of nursing. As Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, said over 100 year ago, “I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.”

Nursing Shortage

While nurses may not feel such a patriotic sense of duty these days, they certainly fill an extremely valuable role in a variety of health-care settings. Texas nurses serve on the front lines of patient interaction and care. Often, a patient receives care from many nurses before ever seeing a doctor. And the current nursing shortage is waging severe consequences on the quality of patient care across the state. Thus, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and many other health-care setting throughout Texas are desperately seeking qualified nurses. In Harris and Fort Bend counties alone, more than 21,000 new jobs for Registered Nurses are projected to emerge by 2016.

Nursing Job Outlook

And with an average salary of $57,280 (which can be substantially boosted through overtime and night and weekend pay) it seems that nursing would attract plenty of men and women. In fact, administrative nurses can earn in excess of $100,000 a year! In addition to the cush salary, nurses needn’t live in fear of the recession like the rest of the country. The job outlook for nursing is exceptional! The need for qualified nurses will increase much faster than the rest of the job market through at least 2016.

So, if nursing offers a fulfilling career, a substantial income, and excellent job stability, why aren’t more people flocking to nursing school? For one, nursing school is expensive. In-state tuition averages between $20,000 and $30,000 for a four-year nursing degree at a public school. For private schools, the rate is even steeper…an average of $80,000 for four years. So, what’s a money-strapped future nurse to do? Simple. Dig your heels in and apply for every scholarship and grant that this great nation has to offer.

Nursing Financial Aid

And the scholarships and grants are plentiful! The first step is, of course, to decide upon a nursing school, and gain admission to that school. Once you have been accepted to a nursing school, you can work with the college or university Office of Financial Aid to coordinate your financial aid package. The precursor to many scholarship applications is the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

School-Specific Scholarships

In addition to federal aid, there are many other resources for scholarships and grants. Your nursing school likely offers several university-specific scholarships. For instance, Texas Woman’s University recently received an endowment in the amount of $330,517 to fund scholarships and fellowships for graduate level nursing students. Check with the Office of Financial Aid at your University as well as the administration in your school of nursing to get the heads up on these school-specific scholarships.

General Scholarships

There are also general scholarships offered by public and private entities such as the Tylenol corporation (http://www.tylenol.com/page.jhtml?id=tylenol/news/subptyschol.inc). Since these general scholarships are open to any major, competition is likely steep. If you’d like decrease the number of students with which you’re competing, you may want to apply for a nursing specific scholarship.

Scholarship Search Engines

Due to the nursing shortage, nursing specific scholarships and grants abound. Take advantage of large scholarship search engines, such as scholarships.com, fastweb.com, or fastaid.com. After sorting through the myriad of scholarships on these sites, check out some state-specific programs such as the Good Samaritan Grant (http://www.gsftx.org/) based in Houston. This grant has provided over 14 million dollars to 12,000 Texas nursing students over the past 59 years.

Specific Population Scholarships

Some scholarships and grants are directed to specific populations. For instance, the Texas Legion Auxiliary Past President’s Parley Scholarships is designed for children of Texas veterans who are pursuing studies in a field of medicine. Another Texas scholarship, the The Kahler-Vickers/Raup-Emma Wettstein Scholarships, is based upon religious affiliation. It “assists women who are members of the ELCA studying for service in health professions associated with ELCA projects abroad that do not lead to church-certified professions.”

Geographic Area Scholarships

Some other forms of financial aid require that you accept a nursing job in a particular field or geographic area. For instance, the Texas Outstanding Rural Scholar Recognition and Forgiveness Loan Program requires that you provide a year of healthcare in a rural community for each year that you receive the loan. The Tyson Foundation sponsors a scholarship for people who live near a Tyson facility in the counties of Carthage, Center, or Seguin, Texas.

Field-Specific Scholarships

Other scholarships are designated specifically for certain fields of nursing. For instance, the Society of Pediatric Nurses (https://www.pedsnurses.org/) sponsors scholarships specifically for nursing students who plan to work with children. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mary Opal Wolanin Scholarship is a scholarship designated for nursing students who plan to serve the elderly population.

With all of the scholarships and financial aid that await the nursing student, there is no need to delay your nursing education due to lack of funds. So, get those applications in, and prepare for your fulfilling career as a nurse!

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