Financial Aid for Nurses

By Staff Writer

As the cost of higher education continues to rise each year, figuring out how to pay for nursing school becomes increasingly important for all enrollees. Students can pursue financial aid for nursing school, but they must start early to benefit from the many available scholarships, grants, and funding sources available. In this guide, we explore how to pay for nursing school without breaking the bank.

How to Pay for Nursing School

Among the many types of funding for nursing school, those that do not require repayment are the most popular and competitive. Most nursing students pursue grants, along with scholarships, fellowships, and residency programs.

Nursing students should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which allows them to receive consideration for awards offered by the federal government. Many colleges and academic departments also require FAFSA information when awarding funding.

Degree-seekers must submit the FAFSA by June 30 each year of enrollment. Required materials include a social security number, driver's license number, federal tax information, and financial documents.

Financial Aid Available for Nursing Students

Financial aid for nursing school comes in several different forms, making it important for students to understand each type. Candidates will encounter federal loans in unsubsidized and subsidized forms. The latter type sees the government paying interest on the loan, while the student completes their degree or the loan becomes deferred. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest on the day of disbursement.

Students who qualify for these loans can take advantage of standard, graduated, and extended repayment plans. When possible, learners should always select federal over private loans, as they offer much more protection.

Scholarships for Nursing Students

Scholarships provide a type of financial aid for nursing school that does not require repayment if the student meets all requirements. Organizations award scholarships based on many different factors, including academic excellence, financial need, individual major, and location.

Candidates should begin searching for scholarships early to find opportunities that work with their specific needs. Common awarding organizations include colleges, professional nursing associations, state governments, and private organizations.


Who Can Apply: Nursing students attending AACN member institutions who hold at least a 3.2 GPA may apply.

Amount: Two $5,000 awards offered four times annually.

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National Black Nurses Association, Inc.

Who Can Apply: An NBNA member attending an accredited bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), associate degree in nursing (ADN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), master of science in nursing (MSN), or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program can apply by supplying official transcripts, a written essay, and letters of recommendation.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000

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Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association

Who Can Apply: Members of the FNSNA enrolled in state-approved nursing programs, regardless of academic level, can apply for this annual award

Amount: Up to $7,500

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Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Red Cross offers this award to undergraduate and graduate nursing students who have volunteered their time to the Red Cross.

Amount: $1,000

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Exceptional Nurse Scholarship

Who Can Apply: A student working towards a nursing degree at any academic level can apply by providing a completed form, three letters of recommendation, an essay, and official high school and college transcripts.

Amount: $250-$500

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Indian Health Service Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students of American Indian and Alaska Native descent can receive this award if they plan to work in nursing or another recognized health profession.

Amount: Varies

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American Medical Resource Initiative Healthcare Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students who submit an essay of no fewer than 2,000 words on how they plan to contribute as healthcare professionals receive consideration.

Amount: $1,000

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AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students working towards a BSN, MSN, or DNP can apply, with special consideration for those looking to work as nurse educators.

Amount: $2,500

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Liberty Leadership Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses offers this award to occupational health and environmental nursing students who want to protect and support worker safety.

Amount: $1,500

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Association of Rehabilitation Nurses Scholarship

Who Can Apply: A nursing student working towards a BSN can apply for this award if they maintain ARN membership and possess at least two years of experience in rehabilitative nursing.

Amount: $1,500

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Grants for Nursing Students

Grants function similarly to scholarships. As long as degree-seekers meet all award requirements for grants, they do not have to repay the funding. Federal and state governments most commonly offer grants, but nursing associations, professional groups, and other organizations provide them, as well. Organizations select awardees based on factors like academic merit, financial need, volunteerism, and location.

American Holistic Nurses Association Research Grants

Who Can Apply: A holistic nurse interested in conducting research can apply for this award by supplying a 3-5 page research proposal and information on their proposed budget.

Amount: $5,000

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Promise of Nursing Program

Who Can Apply: This award supports nurse training in states experiencing substantial shortages. The states change each year, so applicants should make sure to review current information.

Amount: Up to $7,500

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Virginia Elizabeth and Alma Vane Taylor Nursing Award

Who Can Apply: An undergraduate or graduate nursing student attending an accredited program in North Carolina can apply if they demonstrate financial need and hold at least a 3.5 GPA.

Amount: $1,500

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Nursing Incentive Fund

Who Can Apply: The Kentucky Board of Nursing supplies awards to learners enrolled in LPN, ADN, BSN, MSN, or DNP programs. They must live in Kentucky and attend accredited programs.

Amount: Up to $3,000 per year

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Army Nurse Corps Association Award

Who Can Apply: Nursing students who served in the U.S. Military and specialize their education in nurse anesthesia programs may apply.

Amount: $3,000

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Nursing Incentive Program

Who Can Apply: The Delaware Department of Education offers this to residents of the state working towards LPN or registered nurse (RN) careers who possess a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Amount: $5,000 per year

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Timothy L. Correll Foundation Memorial Award

Who Can Apply: Minnesota residents attending accredited undergraduate nursing programs can receive this renewable award. Applicants must demonstrate leadership and service.

Amount: $750

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Mary Barker APRN Nursing Award

Who Can Apply: The Wisconsin Nurses Association grants this award to graduate-level nursing students who attend or plan to attend school in Wisconsin. They must work towards advanced practice registered nursing careers to receive the award.

Amount: $2,000

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Nursing Education Research Grants

Who Can Apply: Members of the National League for Nursing can apply to this award if they plan to perform research on nurse education and need funding for specific research goals.

Amount: Up to $5,000

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Virginia L. Pilcher RN Award

Who Can Apply: The Genesis Foundation awards this funding to students working towards a BSN or an MSN. They must live in Iowa and already possess an RN license.

Amount: Varies

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Fellowship and Residency Programs For Nursing Students

Nursing fellowships and residency programs provide aid for nurses working towards master's or doctoral qualifications. In exchange for working in a supervised clinical position in a hospital, physician's office, or other healthcare facility, degree-seekers receive a stipend or salary. Students can use this funding to help offset the cost of their degree while meeting supervised experience requirements.

Fellowships and residences tend to be extremely competitive, making it important for learners to understand their strengths and work hard on their applications. Internship and fellowship coordinators at a student's university can help with this process.