Pursuing a career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is a smart decision in today’s job market. As the population continues to age, there’s growing demand for the services of elderly care providers like CNAs. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists CNAs as one of the 20 occupations with the most expected new jobs through 2028.
If you’re one of the many people looking to capitalize on this favorable outlook and become a CNA, the first step is to complete a CNA training program. You may be asking, “How will I cover all the costs?” and, “Where are the best resources to help me succeed?” If these questions are on your mind, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll find a list of valuable scholarships for incoming and current CNA students, get insider tips for making your scholarship applications stand out, and discover academic, career, and networking resources that can help you on your path to becoming a CNA.
Scholarships and Grants for CNA Students
Scholarships and grants are some of the most desired forms of college funding for the simple reason that they don’t need to be paid back. CNA students from all walks of life turn to them to help finance their college education. Most CNA scholarships are offered directly by colleges or by private organizations and public agencies that support CNAs and other nursing professions. Keep reading to learn about some of the best scholarships currently available for CNA students.
School-based Scholarships for Certified Nursing Assistants
While not every school with a CNA program offers its own scholarships, many do, and these awards can be more lucrative than national and regional scholarships and they’ll also naturally have less competition. Below we’ve spotlighted two schools with great scholarship opportunities for their CNA students. Learn more about them below, and see if your school offers similar scholarship opportunities by contacting your school’s financial aid office or nursing department.
Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) offers a 120-hour certified nursing assistant course of study and supports its students through variety of scholarships and tuition waivers. Most of the awards are need-based and require that interested parties submit a FAFSA to determine eligibility along with the school’s application form. Lewis-Clark makes scholarships available to in-state and out-of-state students alike. It also participates in the RaiseMe scholarship program which gives high school students the opportunity to generate extra financial aid in the years leading up to college. One of the major-specific scholarships LCSC offers is for students enrolled in its CNA program, which we’ve highlighted below.
Lynda Adams-Mollenberg Memorial Scholarship
All students in Lewis-Clark State College’s CNA program may apply. Applicants must be planning to specialize in home care. Special preference is given to those with some experience in this area.
How to Apply
Interested students must complete the FAFSA, Lewis-Clark State College’s internal financial aid form, and a scholarship-specific application.
Forsyth Tech Community College offers a number of healthcare-related scholarships, including several awards specifically set aside for certified nursing assistants. These scholarships are supported by the school itself, its endowments, and several regionally-based foundations. The awards come in renewable and non-renewable forms with need or merit-based requirements to support the largest number of applicants possible. Forsyth Tech uses an intuitive scholarship management platform that automatically matches students with relevant awards based on their qualifications, experience, and financial need. It also connects applicants with outside opportunities in some cases. Here’s a deeper look at one of Forsyth Tech’s best scholarships for CNA students.
Salemtowne Scholarship for Certified Nursing Assistant
Applicants must be North Carolina residents currently enrolled in at least 6 credits at Forsyth Tech. Students who have already earned a degree are not eligible to apply.
How to Apply
Prospective applicants must complete the FAFSA along with Forsyth Tech’s own financial aid application. Additional materials may also be required.
National and Regional CNA Scholarships
Cascade Healthcare Solutions
Applicants must be currently enrolled in a nursing program at an accredited college or university in the U.S. They must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA and provide enrollment verification.
How to Apply
Students need to complete the online application form and write a 200 to 300-word essay that discusses their professional goals in nursing.
Pacific Medical Training
All CNA students with proper enrollment verification are eligible to apply. They must not be employed by Pacific Medical Training or related to a current employee.
How to Apply
Interested students must complete an online application and submit a 750-1,000-word essay discussing emergency medical care from the perspective of a healthcare student.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Applicants must be U.S. citizens currently enrolled in an accredited nursing program with demonstrable financial need.
How to Apply
Qualified students must complete the application and provide either a letter of acceptance or a transcript that verifies their enrollment status.
Mercer Foundation for Health
Eligible students must be at least 17 years old and currently pursuing an accredited CNA course of study. They must be graduates of Mercer County, Rockridge, or Sherrard high schools in Illinois.
How to Apply
Applicants must submit an official application in hard copy. Additional materials include three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a 100-200-word essay on how they plan to make an impact in healthcare.
Bedford Community Health Foundation
This scholarship is open to full-time nursing and allied health students as well as high school students enrolled at Bedford Science and Technology Center. Qualified students must be residents of the town or county of Bedford, VA.
How to Apply
Applicants must complete the required form and provide references, enrollment information, and employment history. They must also indicate why the need the scholarship and how it will advance their career goals.
This award supports ethnically diverse students who are residents of Minnesota or western Wisconsin and plan to attend a nursing program in that region. Applicants maintain a 2.0 GPA or better.
How to Apply
Qualified students must submit an application along with a volunteer service essay, a financial need statement, and two reference letters.
Saginaw Community Foundation
These scholarships offer assistance to Saginaw county residents currently pursuing a medical or healthcare-related course of study. The must have 2.5 GPA and maintain full or part-time employment.
How to Apply
Qualified students must submit the application and complete the FAFSA. They must also provide official transcripts, a written essay, and two letters of recommendation.
Applicants must either be currently enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited nursing program.
How to Apply
Qualified students must submit a 750-1000-word essay that outlines their motivations in pursuing nursing work and/or why the want to attend a CNA program.
Nebraska Health Care Foundation
This scholarship is open to all CNA students interested in working in a nursing facility or an assisted living community.
How to Apply
Applicants must complete the online application form and provide any required documentation specified by the selection committee.
5 Keys to Landing Your CNA Scholarship
Locating relevant scholarship opportunities is one thing, winning the awards is something else entirely. It is incredibly important to read and follow all the instructions closely. Most awards follow a similar process, but there will always be additional steps or requirements specific to individual scholarships. Tailoring your materials to meet those specifications will go a long way toward submitting a competitive, eye-catching application. Below we’ve compiled some additional tips to help you land your CNA scholarship and stand out from the competition.
- Key #1: Lean on your professional networks
If you already have some professional networks in place, leverage them to your benefit. Sometimes working professionals familiar with the CNA field may know about additional scholarships not widely advertised.
- Key #2: Use your experience to your advantage
This might seem obvious, but scholarship selection committees look for candidates with clear qualifications in nursing or healthcare. If the application asks for an essay, use it as an opportunity to make a detailed case for yourself using your own interests or experience as evidence.
- Key #3: Investigate potential employers
You may already have an idea of where you want to work after you graduate. If so, reach out to those employers in advance. They may be able to offer incentives or additional backing that can help you land more competitive awards.
- Key #4: Put your best foot forward
Your application materials act as an extension of yourself. Proofread everything before you submit and be sure to follow the requirements carefully. This is especially important when it comes to essays. Each application will be different and some may want you to answer more than one question.
- Key #5: Cast the net as wide as possible
A good rule of thumb is to apply to more scholarships than you think you will need. Applying does not guarantee an award, so this will increase your chances of earning enough scholarships to cover the costs of your program.
If You Still Need Help Paying for Your CNA Program
In a perfect world, you’d win enough scholarships to pay for all of your tuition and other college expenses. But the reality is that you’ll likely need to turn to additional financial aid opportunities like student loans or work-study placements to cover the rest. Student loans are most often granted by private organizations or the federal government. In most cases, they can be used to cover tuition-related expenses, but unlike scholarships they accrue interest over time and must be repaid after graduation. Find out more about these and other opportunities by visiting our guides on student loans and financial aid.
Academic and Professional Support Resources for CNA Students
Working through a CNA program can be challenging, especially if you’re already a working professional with job responsibilities that can’t be put on hold. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to get the support you need during school and beyond. These include school-based support and career services for currently enrolled students, outside student associations and professional organizations, online communities, and other continuing education resources. Whether you’re a new CNA student, a recent graduate, or a seasoned professional, the tools and resources listed below offer a great way to advance your CNA training and career.
CNA Student Support Centers and Services
Student resource centers maintained by individual schools or departments are one of the most popular ways of finding the support you need. They help new and prospective students get their bearings, support current students’ study efforts, and often connect alumni with employment opportunities after they graduate. Below we spotlight a few schools that go above and beyond with student services and resources for their certified nursing assistant students.
Truckee Meadows Community College
In addition to general services available to all students, Truckee Meadows Community College offers specialized support tools designed with CNA students in mind. These include financial aid and student employment assistance and an academic advising office that provides expert advice on how to effectively move through the program. The school also extends student counseling services that can help CNA students cope with the stress of school, work, and career advancement. These services also provide training in issues of diversity and cross-cultural awareness that many CNAs may encounter on the job.
Green River College
CNA students at Green River College enjoy a range of interactive student support services. Its I-Best Program pairs qualified students with an additional instructor who offers individualized assistance all quarter long. These tutors help with ESL concerns, mathematics and study skills, test performance, and career advancement.
In addition, Green River’s Open Doors Program provides additional support for students struggling with their studies and financial aid. It provides one-on-one advising and counseling services to help students reduce unnecessary barriers and achieve their professional goals. CNA students also enjoy access to Green River College’s campus-wide student support and career services resources.
Resources for Online CNA Students
Availability of online and hybrid learning opportunities continues to increase each year. With more and more schools offering distance learning programs, many students find they need additional tools and support. Below, we’ve listed five resources for CNA students in fully-online or hybrid programs that can help you succeed as an online learner.
- Top CNA Classes and Programs Online in 2020
Our own guide to the best online CNA programs in 2020 is a great place to start if you’re interested in earning your CNA credential online. We list some of the top-ranked programs out there and delve into what prospective students can expect from a typical hybrid or online program.
- 10 Tips for Using an Online Nursing Program to Your Advantage
Compiled by Benedictine University, this article looks at how to leverage some of the benefits of online learning to your advantage, both personally and professionally. It looks at time management strategies, study tips, and how to maintain meaningful, collaborative relationships when pursuing CNA certification online.
- How to Study in Nursing School: Students Share 9 Great Nursing Study Tips
Published by Rasmussen College, this article focuses on the necessity of developing new study habits when learning online. It links to some helpful tools and offers advice on how to manage multiple classes, deadlines, and impending exams.
- 7 Online Resources for Healthcare Students
Ameritech’s College of Healthcare lists some online tools and resources specifically designed for online nursing students, including those working on a CNA diploma. It includes open-source research repositories, free study guides, and practice exams.
Student Organizations and Professional Associations
- American Academy of Nursing
One of the premier nursing organizations in the U.S., the AAN works to transform health policy through evidence-based nursing knowledge. It offers a number of resources to CNA students, including recent research and scholarship, regional events, and field-specific job listings.
- American Nurses Association
Established in 1896, this organization supports local CNAs and working professionals through advocacy, certification, and continuing education opportunities. It sponsors webinars and workshops, coordinates accreditation efforts, and extends a robust career center to recent graduates.
- National Association of Health Care Assistants
Based in Carl Junction, Missouri, this association advances work in medical and nursing assisting by offering professional development coaching, publishing a regular magazine, and hosting annual conferences. It also aggregates a job board specific only to CNAs and maintains an active blog.
- National Network of Career Nursing Assistants
This organization offers peer networking and support to career CNAs across the country. It is home to a number of training resources and provides guides to CNAs looking to relocate or make a career change. It also sponsors regional events and continuing education working groups.
- National Student Nurses’ Association
This group supports student nurses at every level of educational attainment. It maintains an active career center and compiles recent publications relevant to nursing and CNA practice. It keeps local chapters throughout the country and partners with nursing experts to increase awareness and advocacy.
Online Communities, Networking Sites, and Social Media
- CNA Reddit Community
With over 8,500 active members, this discussion forum bills itself as a place for students and working CNAs to share their experiences and support one another. Users offer grassroots advice on a number of issues like skills exams, personal protective equipment, and new job opportunities.
- CNAs Only Facebook Group
This Facebook group is similar to the Reddit community but larger in scope (it currently boasts over 55,000 members). It supports the CNA profession by advocating for equitable pay and safe work environments. Newcomers must request membership with the administrators.
- LinkedIn CNA Job Board
On LinkedIn, working CNAs and recent graduates gather to connect with one another and potential employers. Users can engage with recruiters and expert professionals as they work to land a CNA position that meets their needs.
- Instagram Hashtags
CNAs often use Instagram hashtags like #CNA, #CNAlife, and #CertifiedNursingAssistant to share their experiences and support one another in their day-to-day. Many users share tips and others come seeking crowd-sourced advice to help improve their work lives.
- Discussion Forums on Indeed
You may already be familiar with Indeed as a job listing site, but it also hosts job-related discussion boards. The healthcare forums on Indeed are an especially useful portal for gathering information, requesting advice, and discovering new job prospects.
Articles, Videos, Books and Podcasts
- The Nursing Assistant Podcast
Hosted by a CNA trainer and RN with over 25 years of professional experience, this podcast discusses some of the unique challenges CNAs face every day. Individual episodes delve into healthcare technology, home health concerns, and continuing education opportunities.
- NAHCA’s CNA Blog
An arm of the National Association of Healthcare Assistants, this blog offers advice and support to new and established CNAs alike. It discusses self-care, collaboration, recruiting, and skills maintenance. Members of the organization can also access additional tools.
- A Day in the Life of a CNA
This YouTube video documents a day in the life of a young CNA based in Colorado. It offers an intimate glimpse into what aspiring students can expect their day-to-day to look like once they graduate.
- Staying Healthy at Work
CNAs are often on-call and tend to work irregular hours. This article offers some useful tips on how thrive in this environment by staying healthy, attentive, and alert on the job. It includes some strategies for diet, exercise, and getting good, health sleep.
- 25 Tips, Tricks, and Time-Savers from Veteran Certified Nursing Assistants
This resource offers a running and frequently updated list of tips and tricks compiled by working CNAs. It offers advice to new CNAs, discusses evidence-based patient care, and how to effectively interact with other health professionals in collaborative contexts.