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How Much Does it Cost to Get CNA Certified Online?

If you want to become a CNA but are wondering how much it costs to get certified online, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through typical tuition, frequently asked questions, and more.

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Author: Angela Myers

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A female nurse in blue scrubs smiles while talking to a male doctor in a white coat and a stethoscope around his neck. They appear to be discussing something in a bright, modern medical facility. Another person in scrubs is seen in the background.

Becoming a certified nursing assistant or certified nurse aide (CNA) is a great way to jumpstart a healthcare career. CNAs work directly with patients and influence overall care. As a CNA, you will make an impact in others’ lives while experiencing great job security.

But just because being a CNA is an amazing career path doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles involved in getting there — particularly for your wallet. With program costs ranging from $251 to $2,575, it’s no wonder you’re asking, “How much does it cost to get CNA certified online?”

In this guide, we explore the average tuition price, hidden fees, and some of the most affordable programs in the country. We also outline financial aid options and other important factors that influence overall price. After reading, you’ll be ready to make a budget and apply to CNA programs. Keep reading to get started!

Breaking Down Common Costs of Online CNA Classes

There are a few key expenses to consider as you research how much it costs to get CNA certified online. You’re probably already looking at tuition prices, but tuition doesn’t tell the full story. Continue reading to learn more about the expenses you’re likely to encounter.


For the schools we researched, tuition averaged $908. The actual tuition varies between schools; for example, Clarkson College costs $525 while Nebraska Methodist College charges $499. For many students, paying that much up front is a challenge. To make it easier, many schools offer tuition payment plans that enable students to pay in smaller installments monthly.

Program Supplies

Answering the question “How much does it cost to get CNA certified online?” also means answering the question “How much will I pay for software, books, scrubs, and other necessary supplies?” For example, at Catawba Valley Community College, the school estimates students will spend $72 on textbooks, $30 for a wristwatch, $50 for a combination stethoscope/sphygmomanometer, and $7 for bandage scissors, totaling $159 for program supplies.

For affordable textbooks, look at second-hand sellers such as Chegg, which often offer lower prices.

Medical Examination & Background Check

To become a licensed CNA, students typically complete a medical examination and background check before enrolling in a training program. The cost varies, depending on the state and institution. At Ventura College, students pay $26 for a student health fee, $32 for an immunization tracker, and $75 for a criminal background check.

Certification Exam Fees

A key consideration when determining how much it costs to get CNA certified online is the CNA certification exam fee. The cost differs from state to state; in some states, students don’t have to pay this expense.

For a better idea of how much you might pay, here’s a look at the cost in five states:

  • Michigan: $175
  • Washington: $100 for the skills test, $55 for the written or oral test
  • Rhode Island: $110 for the skills test, $55 for the written or oral test
  • Florida: $155
  • Pennsylvania: $135 for the written or oral examination and skills evaluation; often paid by the employer, not the CNA

If you don’t live in one of these states, your state’s nursing board should list the certification exam price.

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Cost Comparisons: Factors that Affect Your Fees

Your residency status and program format play significant roles in determining the answer to the question “How much does it cost to get CNA certified online?” Typically, in-state programs with online options and financial aid are cheaper than traditional, out-of-state programs. Let’s explore the two factors that influence the cost of a CNA the most.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition

When choosing a CNA program, consider your geographic location. State schools typically offer discounted rates to residents. Paying in-state rates can be great for your financial wellness.

The reason these schools can offer lower in-state tuition is because they are funded, in part, through state taxes. That means residents in Iowa, for example, are paying taxes that help fund Eastern Iowa Community College’s CNA program. As a result, residents enjoy a lower tuition rate ($195 per class compared to $262 for out-of-state students).

Some CNA programs also offer a discounted rate for regional students. This usually occurs at schools that receive local tax funding, such as community colleges. Kishwaukee College, for example, offers a regional rate of $152 per class, an in-state rate of $304, and an out-of-state rate of $456.

Some states also practice tuition reciprocity, an agreement through which neighboring states offer in-state tuition to residents of all states in the agreement. For example, Minnesota practices reciprocity with Wisconsin and North Dakota. Residents of Minnesota enjoy in-state tuition at state schools in both these states.

Online vs. Traditional Format

Online programs are often, though not always, cheaper than in-person ones. The City College of New York’s hybrid program is $1,260 ,while the in-person program at Citrus College is only $341. Some online and hybrid programs are cheaper than Citrus College’s in-person ones, however, including the $251 Nursing Assistant I Hybrid Program at Forsyth Tech Community College.

Factor in student fees and transportation costs when weighing how much it costs to get CNA certified, as online and hybrid programs don’t require you to pay as much for either.

Online programs also afford you more free time than in-person programs. They cut down on time for commuting and often allow students to fit their classes around personal commitments and traditional work schedules. Time is money; in the case of CNA students, more time equals more money made at a part-time or full-time job. Because online programs are easier to balance with part-time or full-time work, they may provide a greater ability to earn income as well.

Financing Features: Inside Look at the Cost of CNA Classes

Cost varies greatly across CNA classes, and sometimes the best way to get an idea of how much a CNA will cost (and the academic quality at each price point) is to look at specific programs, scholarships, and curricula. Below are three colleges that do a great job of balancing affordability and academic rigor.

Clarkson College

For an affordable CNA option, consider Clarkson College. The CNA course covers practices and strategies that help graduates provide safe care to patients in a variety of settings, including home healthcare, hospitals, medical practices, and assisted living facilities. Students also develop laboratory skills, which can open more postgrad opportunities than CNA programs without this feature. The lab units and clinical training components must be completed on-campus or at an approved healthcare site. Lectures are delivered online, eliminating some commuting time and lowering transportation costs. Along with transportation costs, which can be variable, students must also pay a $525 course fee. Unlike other programs, Clarkson College bundles more expenses into the one-time course fee, including tuition, textbook costs, course handout and material fees, and a basic life support course voucher. The $525 fee also covers the Nebraska written and skills competency examinations.

Forsyth Tech Community College

Forsyth Tech Community College offers one of the most affordable CNA programs. The program fee is $251 and that includes CPR training, malpractice insurance, access to campus, and parking. Extra fees a student is responsible for include a $95 compliance training fee, a $140 state exam fee, and some variable fees for textbooks and certain modules in the program. Most students also must purchase a uniform, stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff. The program is a hybrid option, so students may not have as many commuting costs because lectures are virtual. For labs and clinical training, students commute to campus or a predetermined clinical site. While the program covers many nursing foundations, it emphasizes patient safety and providing care during the aging process. Because of this specialized focus, it’s a great option for those who want to work as home health aides, in an assisted living facility, or another healthcare setting for older populations.

Nebraska Methodist College

Logo for Nebraska Methodist College featuring bold, black text. The word "METHODIST" is prominently displayed in the center, with "NEBRASKA" above it and "COLLEGE" below. A heart symbol with a dove inside, in blue and black, is positioned at the upper right.

Nebraska Methodist College offers an excellent CNA program for $499, which covers the tuition for all courses. It also includes clinical and on-site state testing and BLS healthcare provider CPR training. Students also must pay for a watch, one textbook, and scrubs, though the latter is optional and dependent on where students complete their clinical hours. CNA students complete a series of lectures, labs, and clinical training, providing robust and comprehensive nursing education. Many lectures are offered online, though labs and clinical training take place in person. Transportation costs vary, depending on how close a student lives to campus or an assigned clinical site. In their classes, students learn how to deliver care in home health settings, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, medical offices, and assisted living facilities. The program duration is also flexible and can be completed in five to 16 weeks at the discretion and preference of each student.

FAQs About the Cost of Becoming a CNA

Most likely, you still have some financial questions about becoming a CNA. Whether you’re curious about the availability of free training programs or the earning potential of CNAs, continue reading for answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Are accelerated CNA courses less expensive than traditional courses?

Accelerated CNA courses can be completed in as little as four weeks. While faster, these programs aren’t typically cheaper than longer ones. At the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the four-week CNA program costs $2,575 while Ventura College’s 12-week program costs $854 for tuition and standard expenses.

Are scholarships available for CNA programs?

Like student loans, scholarships exist for CNA programs. Usually, they are funded through individual institutions or private organizations. Popular CNA scholarships include the EMPOWER scholarship and the Nurses Make a Difference scholarship. Schools also offer tuition waivers and scholarships to eligible students. At Lehman College, students can apply for the ASSET scholarship, which covers 50% of program costs.

How can I find a free online CNA course?

Free online CNA programs can be tricky to find. If a program claims to be free, make sure it’s certified and that graduates are eligible for state licensure before you apply. Without proper accreditation and state licensure eligibility, most employers won’t hire you as a CNA and other academic institutions won’t accept your degree.

Where does a CNA make the most money?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), on average a CNA makes $39,610. In some states, CNAs make more after graduating. Typically, CNAs make the most in the District of Colombia, Alaska, California, Washington, and Oregon – $46,000 to $48,000 in those states, according to the BLS. To make even more, consider becoming an LPN or RN.