One of the biggest benefits of earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is the boost in pay over what nurses with an MSN or a BSN make. Additional perks include increased responsibility and autonomy as well as the ability to further specialize. DNP programs can be expensive, though, so finding a reasonably priced program and other ways to keep costs down is important.
Many online DNP programs from accredited universities are surprisingly affordable, while also giving you the convenience of remote learning. In this guide, we showcase the most affordable online DNP programs that won’t break the bank, yet don’t skimp on quality. You’ll also find other helpful tips and strategies for saving money on your online DNP program so you can graduate with as little student debt as possible.
The Most Affordable Online DNP Programs in 2023
There are many factors to consider when choosing a degree program, with affordability being one of the biggest. We’ve spotlighted several affordable programs below to help you find a program that’s within budget. Our selections are based on a combination of key affordability and quality metrics taken from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). To learn more about how we calculated our rankings, click the “About the Ranking” button.
What Makes an Online DNP Program Affordable?
When it comes to affordability with your DNP program, look at the total cost of each program you’re considering to know if it’s affordable for you regardless of exactly where it’s offered and who is offering it. Six of the most common factors impacting program affordability are discussed below.
How much financial aid you can secure for your online DNP program
Most DNP students need some help paying for their degrees. That means securing funding through one or more financial aid resources. Some of the most common of those resources are scholarships, grants, and student loans. Contact the financial aid office at each school you’re considering early in your program search to find out about financial aid opportunities. Learn more about funding your degree by visiting the EduMed financial aid guide.
If the DNP program has a class schedule that allows you to continue working
Colleges and universities offering online DNP programs are aware that many students simply can’t afford to quit working while earning their degrees. As a result, many programs offer part-time study options that allow students to pursue their DNPs and keep their current nursing jobs. Other employment-friendly program features include asynchronous coursework you can access at your convenience and virtual classes scheduled evenings and on weekends.
If the college is private or public
Generally speaking, tuition rates for private schools run higher – sometimes substantially so – than those for public schools. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. Also, school-sponsored scholarship and grant opportunities may be available for private DNP programs that are not for public programs. Don’t cross any private school off your search list before first checking out the total program cost.
Whether you live in-state or-out-of-state
Public schools typically charge higher (often substantially higher) tuition rates to students residing outside their state’s borders. If affordability is a major concern, you’ll probably want to look at DNP programs offered by your state’s public colleges and universities first. Also, there’s a trend toward public schools charging a single low tuition rate to all online program students regardless of the state of residence. So, again, always check the total program cost first.
How much of the DNP program coursework is offered online
One of the biggest benefits of distance learning is saving on transportation costs (e.g., gas, parking, wear-and-tear on your car, etc.) that go with attending on-campus classes. Also, some programs include on-campus residencies or seminars that may require paying for an airline ticket if you live a long way from campus. The more coursework offered online, the more affordable the program.
How much the college charges for you to apply
Tuition cost is the big-ticket item on your online DNP program price tag, but it isn’t the only one. College and universities charge students any number of application and other fees that can add substantially to your total program bill. Look beyond tuition rates when determining a program’s affordability. Also, big or multiple application fees may keep you from applying to those programs further down on your school wish list.
How to Lower the Cost of Your Online DNP Degree
Besides the factors discussed above, there are plenty of other things ways to save money on your online DNP program. Start with the three suggestions listed below, but be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office for more opportunities to save.
- Search for scholarships and grants designed specifically for DNP students.
Of all funding sources available for your online DNP program, the best are scholarships and grants. They’re essentially free money since you never have to pay them back. There are lots of scholarship and grant providers out there, and some are exclusively for DNP students. In many cases, DNP-specific scholarships are sponsored by colleges and universities themselves, so don’t dismiss scholarships and grants out of hand because you don’t think you’ll qualify. Additionally, be sure to check out this EduMed list of scholarships for nurse practitioner students.
- See if your employer sponsors a tuition reimbursement program.
Many nursing employers value good employees and want to support them in advancing their careers, so many offer tuition reimbursement programs. These employers typically require a commitment by the nurse to continue employment with them for a given period after earning their degree. Examples of employers with tuition reimbursement programs include The University of Chicago Medical Center and Halifax Health.
- Take advantage of nursing student discount programs.
Lower the costs of your online DNP program by looking beyond the program’s direct costs. We’re talking about saving on the many indirect expenses associated with your degree pursuit, including things like uniforms and scrubs, travel and transportation costs, technology, housing, etc. There are lots of merchants offering discounts on their products and services specifically to nursing students. To learn more about these discounts, check out EduMed’s 50 Dynamite Discounts for Nursing Students guide.