On this page

Back to top

Online ADN Programs with Financial Aid: Find the Best Programs in 2024

College costs can be a huge barrier to entry. This guide will walk you through how to find online ADN programs that offer and accept financial aid.

Find your school in just 60 seconds

Find Your School in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Take our quiz
  2. Match with schools
  3. Connect with favorites
I want my
In
A healthcare worker in blue scrubs takes the blood pressure of an older woman with gray hair who is seated on a couch. The setting appears to be a bright, well-lit room with large windows in the background. Both individuals are smiling.

You’ve made the decision: You’re ready to become a nurse, and now it’s time to weigh your options. While a nursing diploma may be an option involving less time and money, earning an Associate Degree in Nursing — or ADN — has a host of long-term benefits. Namely, you can easily transfer credits into an RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN bridge program, meaning the potential for higher pay and more responsibilities as you advance your education.

But now you may be thinking: “Going to college is expensive.” True, the sheer cost of higher education is a barrier that many students face; but it’s often valuable to think about it less in terms of cost and more in terms of investment. That’s why we’ve created this guide: In it, you’ll learn how to navigate the world of higher education costs and find online ADN programs that both offer and accept various forms of financial aid. We’re here to help equip you with the knowledge necessary to lower that barrier to entry.

First you’ll first read about some financial aid-friendly ADN programs, then you’ll explore common forms of financial aid, their eligibility standards, and application checklists. If you’re intrigued by the prospect of earning an affordable ADN, read on to get started!

One of the greatest benefits of pursuing your ADN is the fact that you can often find these programs at your local community colleges. You’ll even find some accelerated ADN options if you’re hoping to secure your degree as quickly as possible. Community colleges tend to have lower tuition than four-year colleges or universities, creating instant savings. Below, find colleges that are financial aid-friendly, have low tuition costs, and offer online components.

Northwestern Michigan College

The image shows the logo of Northwestern Michigan College. It includes the name "Northwestern Michigan College" in green text next to a stylized white tree on a green background.

Northwestern Michigan College has an ACEN-accredited Associate Degree in Nursing that offers all of its classroom work online. You’ll need to go on campus two to three days a week to complete labs and clinical experiences. This course starts every fall and follows a full-time study schedule. Total tuition is $16,008 for in-district ADN students and $25,116 for in-state students, not including fees.

As with most colleges, you’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid —commonly called the FAFSA — to see if you’re eligible for federal need-based financial aid, such as Pell grants. Michigan students can also benefit from several state-wide scholarship and grant opportunities, such as the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and the Michigan GearUp Scholarship. You may also qualify for NMC scholarships; the school will take your application and match it to scholarships based on your qualifications.

John A. Logan College

The state of Illinois has a unique financial aid opportunity specifically for students looking to enter healthcare, so Illinois residents may want to consider the ADN program at John A. Logan College (JALC). Students enrolled in nursing or allied health programs may be eligible for the PATH grant, which can help fund books, technology, childcare assistance, and other needs. You can find more information about JALC scholarships and work-study programs on the school’s financial aid page.

The associate degree in nursing at JALC is designed to be taken full time. To qualify for the hybrid program, students must already have an active LPN license and one year of practical nursing experience. Prerequisite courses must also have been completed with a “C” grade or better. A traditional ADN program is available if you don’t have a year or more of LPN experience. The total cost of the hybrid program is about $11,300.

Sampson Community College

Sampson Community College in North Carolina offers a limited-enrollment, hybrid LPN to ADN degree with a mixture of online and on-campus components. Students will need to have at least two years (2,000 hours) of practical nursing experience in a medical/surgical unit of an acute care hospital or skilled nursing facility.

To qualify for this hybrid option, students must complete all prerequisite courses with a “C” or better from a regionally accredited institution. The program takes two semesters to complete and requires students to receive 144 hours of unpaid clinical practice.

Financial aid at SCC is diverse. Students from qualifying counties can apply for the Golden LEAF scholarship. The North Carolina Longleaf Commitment grant is for students who meet specific FAFSA qualifications. Scholarships are offered to students through the SCC Foundation for academic excellence and/or graduation from a Sampson County high school.

Find your school in just 60 seconds

Find Your School in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Take our quiz
  2. Match with schools
  3. Connect with favorites
I want my
In

Most Common Types of Financial Aid Options

Financial aid comes in a variety of forms, so it’s helpful to know the nuances of each — like which ones you have to pay back, what they can cover, and more. Below, you’ll learn more about several of the most common types of financial aid you’ll find in your research, as well as some nursing-specific examples to help you get started in searching and applying.

Scholarships

Scholarships can come from various sources, including the government, your school’s nursing department, your college or university, and even private third-party companies or associations. Additionally, some employers offer scholarships. They can be need-based — meaning they’re granted to students who demonstrate financial need — or merit-based, meaning they’re granted to students who show exceptional educational performance (think GPA or college-entry exam test scores). Keep an eye out for specific scholarship application requirements, such as letters of recommendation, previous school transcripts, or personal essays.

Here are a few scholarships designed for nursing students:

Grants

Grants are typically awarded based on need and are similar to scholarships in that they don’t need to be paid back. Nursing grants can cover expenses like tuition, lab fees, or scrubs. Filling out the FAFSA may qualify you to receive Pell grants from the government. Other grants are awarded to nursing students who participate in certain research areas. Because ADN students don’t often participate in research-centered courses, research grants may not apply to you unless you decide to continue your education later.

Find nursing-specific grants available through the following organizations:

Loans

Loans should be your last option for financial aid because the money you borrow must be paid back with interest. If you fill out the FAFSA but don’t qualify for Pell Grants, you’ll likely get the option to take out a federal loan that may or may not be subsidized (meaning the government pays interest on your behalf until you graduate). Private loans are also an option, though they typically have higher interest rates than federal student loans. As a nursing student, you may qualify for student loan forgiveness programs. These programs allow you to pay on your loan for a certain number of years and then wipe away the rest of your debt. Be sure to research the qualifications for such programs, such as taking out a certain type of loan, working in a specific need-based area, or committing to being an employee of a certain company for a predetermined number of years.

Financial Aid Checklist: How to Maximize Your Aid Opportunities

While everyone’s financial aid journey will follow a different trajectory, you’ll discover that some steps are universal. The checklist below is a good place to start and includes some of the most common steps you’ll need to take as you research and apply for the different types of financial aid that can help make college more affordable.

Complete the FAFSA Early

The U.S. government administers the FAFSA. As an ADN student, you’ll want to fill out this form with your specific financial information to determine whether you’re qualified to receive federal financial aid; it can also be used to determine college-specific aid, depending on your program. Because this type of financial aid is administered on a first-come-first-served basis, you should fill out your application early to maximize your chances of receiving aid. You can get started on the FAFSA website or by researching online nursing schools that accept FAFSA aid.

Thoroughly Review Eligibility Criteria & Requirements

Most scholarships and other financial aid opportunities have specific requirements and eligibility criteria that ADN students must meet to qualify for aid. This helps programs deliver resources to their desired student population, such as nursing or minority students. To find eligibility criteria and requirements, read through all the information on the website and look for required items like age, prior GPA, letters of recommendation, and topic of study.

Check Deadlines and Apply Early

Deadlines exist for a reason on financial aid applications, most often ensuring that the awarding body has time to review all applications before disbursements occur. Make note of the application deadlines for any financial aid you may be applying for, and ensure you have plenty of time to gather and submit the necessary requirements. Try to submit your applications early, as some financial aid opportunities give priority to early applicants.

Gather All Necessary Documents

Financial aid opportunities often require supplemental documents in addition to an ADN student’s general information (name, course of study, etc.). These supplemental documents help differentiate applicants from each other and help decision-makers determine who will receive aid. Supplemental information may be personal essays, statements of purpose, or letters of recommendation. We recommend you keep a log of all essays, statements, or letters you write (or receive in the case of letters of recommendation). This will help you save time by identifying opportunities to adapt themes from previous work as you tailor your submissions for other financial aid applications; remember, it’s important to customize all essays and letters to the specific source.

Receive Feedback on Supplemental Materials

As you collate supplemental materials, such as personal essays or statements of purpose, consider having someone you know and trust look over them and give you feedback. A second set of eyes can catch grammar mistakes, inconsistencies, and ideas that need clarification. Having a nursing mentor review your materials can be beneficial if you apply for financial aid tailored toward ADN students.

Review Award Letters

Award letters are the official communications from an entity stating how much aid you were awarded. Additional details, such as meeting any prerequisites or important financial details for disbursement, are also included in the letter. Keep track of your letters and take note of disbursement dates and approved uses.