How to Find a Nursing Program for Your Budget

Have you finally taken the steps to become a nurse? If so, congratulations! Becoming a nurse is a challenging yet rewarding career venture that can provide you with benefits such as great pay, flexibility, as well as the opportunity to lead and even save lives. Nevertheless, nursing school can be quite costly. To avoid large student loans and other out-of-pocket expenses, here is a list of 8 tips to help you choose the best nursing program for your budget.

Research Hybrid/Online Programs

Although nursing is a very hands-on profession, there are actually plenty of online or hybrid programs to choose from. Choosing a full or partially remote nursing program can be one of the simplest ways to lower costs.

This is because students save on expenses such as transportation, eating out, etc., and also because many schools offer a lower cost-per-credit rate for non-traditional programs. For example, Ohio State University offers an Online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that costs just $ $566.58 per credit hour.

Stay Close to Home

If you prefer traditional or hybrid programs online, you should definitely do your best to choose a nursing school that’s close to home. This is because many colleges offer lower in-state fees for residents who wish to attend school in their own areas.

So, if you are in an area that offers such benefits, make sure you research locally to see if they offer suitable programs in your price range before venturing into other markets. Additionally, staying close to home can enable you to save on expenses such as take-out, gas, parking, healthcare center fees, daycare, and much more.

Apply for Financial Aid

Another great way to choose the best nursing school for your budget is by applying for financial aid. Depending on the type of program/degree you are pursuing and your own socio-economic status, you may be eligible for financial aid.

For instance, filling out the FAFSA application is a great place to start for many undergraduate students. From there, you may find that you are eligible for other governmental grants, scholarships, and other assistance that won’t have to be repaid later.

Never Skimp on Accreditation

Although it may be tempting to apply for schools based solely on cost, there are other things that you must consider. For instance, attending non-accredited schools can help you save lots of money, but it may also prevent you from landing gainful employment once you have graduated.

This is because many employers only accept degrees and credentials from accredited institutions. In other words, while your chosen institution doesn’t have to have every bell and whistle as the pricier schools, you must at least make sure the school is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Don’t Forget Community Colleges

While many future nurses seem to believe they must pay top-dollar in order to gain the knowledge required to be a successful nurse, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, many cities offer premium quality nursing programs at community colleges.

The best part about attending colleges in your community is that they are often far less expensive than larger universities. Therefore, depending on your educational and career goals, you can start or complete your nursing education at your local community college.

Try Part-Time Programs

Ideally, anyone who wanted to attend nursing school would be able to do so without taking on an abundance of financial pressure. Unfortunately, in reality, we all have to pay our share whether we can afford to or not. Therefore, if you are not fortunate enough to be eligible for FAFSA and other grants or scholarships, going to school part-time may be the way to go.

This is because attending school part-time can enable you to work a full-time job and/or manage any child-rearing responsibilities all while still pursuing your degree. Yes, these programs typically take twice as long to complete. However, they are highly cost-effective and cater to busy students who want to elevate their lives without sacrificing existing responsibilities.

Tuition Reimbursement

Another great way to find the most affordable nursing programs is to work for companies that offer tuition reimbursement. For instance, many hospitals offer tuition reimbursement programs. This is especially true for those who are interested in joining the nursing field. Given that we are dealing with national nursing shortages, many healthcare facilities are incentivizing earning nursing degrees.

Enrolling in these reimbursement programs makes it possible for you to work full or part-time while earning the credentials you need to secure greater pay and job flexibility, all while paying only a fraction of the cost of the degree. Nevertheless, every reimbursement program is different. So, make sure that you can fulfill all requirements before signing up. For instance, Bright Horizons is one of the leading providers of tuition assistance to nurses in the country. They cover up to 100% of the tuition in exchange for working for the company for a specified time frame upon graduation.

Try an Apprenticeship

Lastly, if you are pursuing a PN or RN degree, a nursing apprenticeship program may be a great choice. They offer students a way to work full time, and earn a degree, while also getting the degree at a discounted price.

Nurse apprentices are tasked with duties such as patient transporting, completing EKGs, installing IVs, checking and charting vital signs, as well as many other vital tasks.

Although the nursing sector is ever-evolving, presently only a handful of states offer these apprenticeships regularly. These states include Illinois, Maryland, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington.

Moreover, the state of Nevada has created apprentice programs that enable students to practice their clinical skills being learned in the classroom. Therefore, if you’re seeking an apprenticeship, you should start by searching for programs in the states mentioned.

However, other states do offer various types of apprenticeships. For instance, Loretto, which is located in Syracuse, NY, offers the first federally recognized LPN apprenticeship that enables students to advance their skills to become a licensed LPN while getting paid.