How Much You’ll Need
The cost of obtaining a nursing degree varies considerably, depending on whether you pursue a 2 or 4-year program, receiving either an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing.
The kind of school you attend – and where it is – makes a difference, too. According to Costhelp.com, the medium cost for a 4-year degree at a public nursing school ranged from $20-27,000 for in-state residents in 2006-07. For out-of-state residents, the cost went all the way from $36,000 to $99,200.
Why Invest in Nursing Training?
Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions around today. It offers you the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives, helping patients and their loved ones manage health challenges. The field changes almost daily, with new medical breakthroughs, treatments and practices expanding the role nurses play in promoting health and wellness.
Not only that, the employment picture for nurses is one of the strongest around. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009 Edition, the nursing field is expected to grow by 23% from 2006 to 2016, which means 587,000 new nursing jobs across the country.
In 2007, there were 50,690 registered nurses working in Wisconsin, making an average annual wage of $59,980, or $28.84 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s more than $10 higher than the average Wisconsinite’s hourly wage.
Financial Aid Opportunities
The state of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board offers grants, scholarships and loans to state residents.
- The Wisconsin Higher Education Grant provides grants based on financial need to students attending the University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical Colleges and Tribal Institutions on at least a half-time basis. Grants range from $250 to $3,000, for no more than 10 semesters. To apply, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- The Nursing Student Loan Program offers students loans ranging from $250 to $3,000 a year. The most you can borrow over-all is $15,000. To be eligible, you must be a Wisconsin resident, enrolled at least half-time in a participating state institution’s nursing program, meet academic and financial need standards and agree to practice in Wisconsin during the forgiveness period. Up to 50% of the loan may be forgiven. During the 2008-09 academic year, each of the 35 institutions with nursing programs was assigned $13,235 for this program. To apply, fill out FAFSA form at www.fafsa.ed.gov and contact your school financial aid administrator.
The Wisconsin Tuition Grant is basically the same, only it applies to independent colleges or universities based in Wisconsin and awards are partially based on how much tuition exceeds the UW – Madison rates. Start the process the same way, with an application at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Private Sector Support
Numerous independent non-profits also offer scholarships for Wisconsin nursing students.
The Wisconsin League for Nursing, in cooperation with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Wisconsin and other sponsors, provides scholarships for high school seniors pursuing a nursing career, as well as college students who are at least halfway through an accredited nursing program. High school students may apply for $500 scholarships by contacting the League directly before the February 15 deadline. Nursing school student candidates must apply through their schools by February 15, and are eligible for $500 to $1,000. Visit the Wisconsin League for Nursing website at www.wisconsinwln.org/Scholarships for more information on how to apply.
Through the Past Presidents Parley Scholarship, the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Wisconsin offers three $1,200 registered nurse scholarships to applicants attending or accepted to accredited nursing schools. Applicants must be the child, stepchild, grandchild, wife or widow of a veteran and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Awards are also made on the basis of financial need. See the American Legion Auxiliary website at www.amlegionauxwi.org, for more application information.
The Wisconsin Medical Society offers scholarships through its foundation. The Amy Hunter-Wilson, MD, Scholarship, due February 1, gives scholarships of around $1,000 to American Indian students studying nursing. Nursing students may pursue two scholarship opportunities with a general scholarship application due April 1. The first is the General Medical Education Scholarship, for students completing a least one year in a healthcare career with a labor shortage. The second is the John D. and Virginia Riesch Scholarship to nursing and medical school students, with a preference for candidates who plan to stay in Wisconsin and who communicate empathy and a collegial approach in their personal statements. Application forms and details may be found at www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org/foundation/support_for_students/scholarships.
To support nurses with the potential to contribute to nursing in the state, the Nurses Foundation of Wisconsin, Inc. (NFW) gives scholarships each year to RNs continuing their education. Candidates must be members of the Wisconsin Nurses Association. Visit their website at www.wisconsinnurses.org to learn more about this organization.
Beyond Nursing Scholarships
The following are the 35 institutions with nursing programs participating in the state of Wisconsin’s Nursing Student Loan program. Most of these schools also have general educational scholarships available to their students. If you’re planning to attend one of these facilities, talk to an advisor and see if nursing students can qualify for more general support. Good luck!
- UW System — Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Parkside
- Private/Independent Colleges & Universities — Alverno, Bellin, Cardinal Stritch, Carroll, Concordia, Edgewood , Maranatha, Marion, Marquette, MSOE, Mount Mary, Viterbo,St Norbert
- Technical Colleges — Blackhawk,Chippewa Valley,Fox Valley,Gateway,Lakeshore,Lakeshore,Mid-State, Milwaukee,Moraine Park, Nicolet, Northcentral, Northeast, Southwest,Waukesha, Western, WI Indianhead