Nursing degrees like other higher education programs are not cheap.

The average cost of a bachelor’s degree in nursing, depending on the school attended, is from about $20,000 to $150,000. It is not a requirement to have a typical four year bachelor’s degree to become a Registered Nurse (RN). An RN is person that has successfully completed an exam and is licensed by a state.

However, it today’s competitive job market, a four-year degree gives an RN a more competitive edge as well as the opportunity for future career advancement.

Career Specific Federal Government Help

Nursing Scholarship Program (NSP)

The agency of the Federal government specifically responsible for granting nursing education scholarships is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHH), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). HSRA provides the Nursing Scholarship Program (NSP) for students that are attending schools of nursing. The scholarship includes money for tuition, fees, other reasonable costs, and even a monthly support stipend in return for 2 years of full-time clinical service at a health care facility that has a critical shortage of nurses in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Marianas, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia. The HSRA cautions that individuals that are certain of their ability to provide nursing for individuals at health care facilities with a critical shortage of nurses should not participate in this program.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship

Like the NSP, HRSA’s National Health Service Corp (NHSC) also offers a similar scholarship for undergraduates pursuing a graduate degree in nursing.

Specifically the NHSC scholarship is for individuals seeking a master’s degree or post-mater’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner or Certified Nurse-Midwife.

The scholarship also provides for tuition, fees, other costs and a monthly stipend of $1,269 per month in return for a year for year match up of service at an approved site located in area that is in high-need of health care professionals. In addition, NHSC helps grantees select an approved service site and finances travel to and from interviews.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

HRSA also provides a scholarship opportunity for disadvantaged students attending accredited schools of nursing. The educational goal to be eligible for this scholarship is an associate, diploma, baccalaureate or graduate degree. The HRSA defines a “disadvantaged background” as an environment that inhibits the individual’s knowledge, skill, and abilities required to enroll in and graduate from a health professions school or from a family with a low level income.

Non-Specific Federal Government Help

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Other Federal government scholarships may also be available for nursing candidates, although they may not be nursing specific. All candidates seeking financial aid are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will help determine their eligibility for other Federal aid.

Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is awarded based on financial need, full or part-time status and the number of years a student plans to attend school. The amount of the grant will differ from student to student.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This is another undergraduate grant that is given to students with exceptional financial need. Award amounts range from $100 to about $4,000 where the Federal government provides up to 75% of the money and the undergraduate’s school supplies the rest.

Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG)

An ACG provides for up to $750 for the first academic year and $1,300 for the second academic year. The grant, when combined with the Federal Pell Grant, cannot exceed the student’s total cost of attendance. Candidates must be a Federal Pell Grant recipient and have completed rigorous secondary education programs with excellent grades.

Additional Federal Financial Aid Sources

In addition to Federal scholarships the Federal government also has other financial aid programs for students seeking a degree/career in nursing. For example, the Nursing Student Loan Program is available for students based on financial need and currently offers loans at a low rate of 5% interest and becomes payable nine months after graduation. The Federal Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program repays up to 60% of the cost of education for a Registered Nurse in return for 2 years of service at a critical shortage health care facility.

Contact your high school guidance counselor or your college/university financial aid officer for more information and application requirements.

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