Maybe you’re fresh out of high school and know you’re interested in a career that involves helping people. Or perhaps you’re looking for a meaningful career that allows you to make a positive impact every day. Jumpstarting a healthcare career through a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program is a practical and affordable option. The question is, how do you pay for it?
Even an accelerated professional program for CNA students at a public college can cost a couple of thousand dollars. Luckily, you have access to a number of financial aid resources. From federal financial aid to private scholarships, CNA students shouldn’t let the cost of school prevent them from beginning a vital role in a challenging—and growing—field.
Keep reading to explore CNA classes that offer financial aid. Plus, we’ll answer some of our readers’ most pressing questions and spotlight several standout CNA programs.
CNA Schools with Financial Aid Support
When searching for the right CNA program with financial aid, focus on schools that offer robust options. Whether the program is online, hybrid, or on campus, the best CNA schools supply quality academics at an affordable price.
Additionally, standout CNA schools that offer financial aid also hold both institutional and programmatic accreditation, and their nursing programs are approved by their state’s board of nursing. Accreditation acts as a stamp of approval, ensuring your investment is worth it.
In the following section, we spotlight three schools offering top-notch CNA training programs and financial aid opportunities that expand access to these programs. Continue reading to see which schools stand out.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is home to a nursing assistant program that students can complete through in-person or hybrid options. With traditional classroom learning and hands-on training, FSCJ students hone their skills to jump start their healthcare careers and pass Florida’s CNA certification exam.
CNA students at FSCJ complete two courses: basic healthcare worker and nursing assistant. In addition to standard coursework, CNA-certificate seekers complete 40 hours of experiential learning at an approved clinical site. FSCJ holds institutional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, as well as programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Alongside standard financial aid options, FSCJ offers need-based grants for skilled training, scholarships, and financial resources for international and refugee students and students in welfare transition programs. FSCJ also offers tuition installment plans for CNA students.
State Fair Community College
Established in 1966, State Fair Community College (SFCC) is a public institution that serves students in and around Sedalia, Missouri. Among their academic offerings is a nursing assistant program that offers both tiered certificates and associate degree tracks for healthcare-minded students. SFCC offers a 16.5-credit nurse aid skills certificate, a 31.5-credit CNA professional certificate, and an AAS in healthcare with a nurse aid specialization. These programs are available at the school’s main campus and online.
The core nursing classes for each academic pathway include medical terminology, CPR for healthcare providers, and extensive clinical experiences. A healthcare associate degree is a solid option for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future, as it knocks out various general education requirements.
SFCC students can access federal financial aid opportunities, and the school spotlights various scholarships and grants. SFCC holds institutional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, and the nursing program is approved by the Missouri Board of Nursing.
Howard Community College
With its home base in Columbia, Maryland, Howard Community College (HCC) offers a certified nursing assistant program that prepares students with the professional skills they need to work collaboratively in various healthcare settings. You can complete this affordable CNA training option in six to eight weeks.
The program blends traditional classroom learning with extensive learning opportunities at various clinical sites. Students complete 100 hours of standard theoretical coursework and 45 hours of hands-on clinical training. Prospective students must be at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED, and provide proof of standard immunizations.
Alongside traditional financial aid options, HCC facilitates scholarships, grants, and other funding opportunities, including the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship. HCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The nursing program is approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Alternative Financing for Your CNA Education
The traditional route for financial aid—the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal loans—is a great place to start when figuring out how to fund a CNA program. That said, other financial resources are available for students who need them. From state-based grants and aid programs to payment plans and scholarships, with a bit of work, the cost of tuition won’t stifle your ambition for a healthcare career.
The following section highlights various alternative resources to help finance your CNA education. Further on in this guide, we look closely at CNA-specific scholarships and some tips on standing out when submitting your applications. Keep reading to learn how you can cut costs and fund your CNA training program with financial aid.
Grants & Scholarships for CNA Students
While CNA students have access to an array of financial aid resources, grants and scholarships should receive some special attention. Why? For the simple reason that they’re essentially free money. Sure, some scholarships have strings attached, such as agreeing to spend some time working with underserved populations. But for many students, scholarships and grants can play a significant role when deciding whether to enroll in a CNA program.
Just because CNA programs are relatively short—typically only two to four months—doesn’t mean the cost is insignificant. Continue reading as we spotlight eight annual scholarships that expand nursing education access.
This essay contest scholarship is available to CNA students. Applicants submit a 750- to 1,000-word essay discussing emergency care and how to manage high-stress situations.
Facilitated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, this annual award is earmarked for three students who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must be admitted into a nursing program.
The Mercer Foundation for Health offers an annual scholarship for Illinois-based CNA students. Applicants must include two letters of recommendation, complete an interview, and answer an essay question.
Offered by the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association, this award is earmarked for students pursuing various nursing degrees or diplomas. Strong applicants typically demonstrate academic achievement and financial need.
This scholarship is offered through the Health Resources and Services Administration. It’s ideal for students with financial need who are ready to work in an underserved area upon completing their nursing program.
Cascade Healthcare Solutions offers nursing students a $1,000 annual scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Interested students apply online and must include a short essay about their career goals.
The Lamber-Goodnow Injury Law Team offers an annual scholarship for current or future CNA students. Applicants write a short essay outlining their interest in a healthcare career and how a CNA program can help on their journey.
Application Tips for CNA Scholarships
Applying for scholarships is a competitive process. It’s fair to assume a correlation between scholarship amounts and competitiveness: the more significant the award, the more applicants you’ll compete against.
As a result, standout scholarship applications are devoid of simple mistakes. Quality applications provide all requisite information while showcasing a scholarship candidate who will use the funding well. The section below highlights some of the best practices when crafting a scholarship application. Keep reading to review some critical focus areas.
Financial Aid & Funding: A Q&A for Students
Whether you’re enrolling in CNA classes that offer financial aid or a four-year bachelor’s program, you’ll have plenty of questions when figuring out how to pay for your upcoming classes. Plus, if you’re new to funding higher education, you’ll inevitably be bombarded with a long list of financial aid-related lingo—FAFSA, scholarships, grants, work-study, payment plans, public and private loans, etc. For the uninitiated, this can feel a bit overwhelming.
In the section below, we’ll try to clarify some of the confusion in hopes of making the process of paying for college less daunting. These are the most popular questions that students ask:
Am I eligible for financial aid?
The first step in determining if you’re eligible for financial aid begins with completing the FAFSA. In addition to determining whether you can secure federal loans, grants, and work-study funding, most accredited institutions use FAFSA information to award in-house scholarships. You must complete the FAFSA each year you’re in school.
Are my CNA classes eligible for financial aid?
The cost of your tuition at accredited CNA programs typically is eligible for financial aid. That said, if you attend a for-profit CNA program, you may not qualify.
How do payment plans work?
Payment plans for your CNA program vary between schools. Schools set tuition payment policies and typically allow students to use tuition installment plans divided into monthly payments. This is a solid option for individuals who can’t pay the semester’s bill all at once but prefer not to take out loans to cover tuition costs.
Additional Financial Aid Resources for CNA Students
For many prospective students, securing financial aid is the difference between enrolling in a CNA program or not. As a result, the more knowledge you have, the better. Continue reading to check out additional resources, tools, and content to help you on your journey toward a CNA career.
- Choosing a Loan That’s Right for You—The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau lays out the various types of loans and offers information that’s important to understand before you commit to a loan.
- FinAid.org—This free page is home to extensive information regarding financial aid, scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid—The FAFSA will likely be essential to the financial aid process.
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)—The NASFAA offers a user-friendly tool that spotlights each state’s financial aid programs.
- Pay Less for Education—This EduMed page offers invaluable insight into taking charge of the financial aid process.