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Online RN to BSN Degrees with Financial Aid: Top Schools for 2024

If you are overwhelmed by the tuition costs of an online RN to BSN degree, there are programs available with financial aid options that allow you to advance your career without blowing your budget.

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Author: Jenna Tidd
Editor: Mark Earnest

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A healthcare professional wearing blue scrubs and glasses, with a stethoscope around their neck, smiles while looking at a laptop. A blurred bookshelf and medical equipment can be seen in the background.

If you already have an associate degree in nursing, you know that completing an online RN to BSN program will broaden your job options and help you command a higher salary. You can significantly upscale your credentials in anywhere from 9 to 24 months,

But there could be a major obstacle looming in your path: tuition. The cost of an RN to BSN online program may prevent you from earning the degree you need or attending the school you want. That’s why, in addition to finding the most affordable RN to BSN program, financial aid is a critical factor for most college students.

With that in mind, we created this guide to help you find a quality online RN to BSN program with many financial aid options, as well as standout student support services like free books and discounted tuition. We explain the most common types of financial aid, where they can be found, and how to maximize your benefits. Finally, you’ll discover helpful tips that smooth out the financial aid process and make it as stress-free as possible.

Keep reading to learn the critical information that will set you on the path to achieving your career goals without the financial burden.

As a prospective nursing student, budget is most likely a determining factor when it comes to choosing an RN to BSN program. Finding a school that accepts financial aid and offers options for students is critical. That’s why we put together this list of three quality programs at schools that accept or offer multiple financial aid avenues.

Arizona State University

Logo of Arizona featuring stylized red and gold text "ASU" alongside a maroon banner with the name "Arizona State University" and a circular sunburst design in gold.

At Arizona State University, the online RN to BSN program prepares students for roles in settings such as intensive care, pediatrics, hospice, and labor and delivery. It consists of 10 classes for a total of 39 credits. Each class lasts about seven and a half weeks. Estimated program tuition is $6,103 per year for both in-state and out-of-state students.

ASU accepts several types of financial aid, including federal programs, scholarships, grants, and loans. They also offer a number of institutional scholarships, including three College of Nursing and Health Innovation scholarships and military scholarships for veterans and their spouses.

State-based financial aid is available to Arizona residents. This includes three scholarship and grant programs that cover the entire tuition. The university has additional support systems in place for marginalized students, such as foster youth and Native Americans, who may face challenges during college.

Denver College of Nursing

Logo for Denver College of Nursing. The logo features a square divided into four smaller squares, each containing a letter (D, C, N), and an image of a caduceus. The text "Denver College of Nursing" is written in white on a navy blue rectangular background to the right.

Designed by working nurses with career elevation in mind, the online RN to BSN program at the Denver College of Nursing can be completed in 15 months with two to three classes per quarter. It covers general education courses as well as important subjects such as evidence-based practice, pathophysiology, and leadership and management.

These courses total 90 quarter credits that can combine with 90 quarter credits from an associate degree for a total of 180 quarter credits. The program’s cost of tuition and an administration fee equals about $14,669. This includes the cost of books but not the cost of any general education courses that may be needed.

The Denver College of Nursing accepts Title IV federal financial aid, such as Stafford and PLUS loans, Pell grants, and work-study programs, as well as credit-based alternative funding. They also offer students an interest-free payment plan option through in-house financing. The college participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and other ones funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Purdue Global

Logo of Purdue Global, featuring an abstract globe graphic in white and beige on a dark circle, next to the words "Purdue Global" in green and black script. Prominently representing their Top Human Services Program.

Purdue Global’s online RN to BSN program is designed for the working professional with asynchronous classes, a customizable degree, discounted tuition, and multiple financial aid options. For added convenience, Purdue also offers ExcelTrack, which costs a flat rate of $4,062 per term (additional fees apply). The more courses taken per term, the sooner students graduate and the less they must pay.

Regular tuition for this program costs $280 per credit hour for Indiana residents and $315 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Incoming students who don’t choose ExcelTrack can reduce their tuition by transferring credits from prior education and submitting an experiential portfolio of relevant work experience. Returning students who had previously withdrawn may be eligible for the Returning Student Relief Grant, which pays debts off up to $4,500. Tuition for military service members who are eligible for assistance is only $165 per credit hour.

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Healthcare scholarships and other forms of financial aid are incredibly important for nursing students who may already be working and trying to make ends meet. Fortunately, many organizations offer scholarships and grants specifically for nurses. Below, you’ll learn about the three most common types, so you can find the financial aid that’s right for you.

Scholarships

Scholarships offer immense advantages to nursing students because, unlike loans, they don’t have to be paid back. They ease the financial burden of tuition and may include valuable mentoring opportunities. Private scholarships awarded by corporations, nonprofit organizations, and foundations, often focus on specific fields like nursing. These scholarships indicate to employers that the recipient possesses significant potential, which may make finding a job much easier.

Colleges and universities may offer their own institutional scholarships, some of which are only available to nursing students. State and federal scholarships offer predictable, consistent funding, which reduces financial stress for students. Some states may have scholarship programs dedicated to healthcare students.

Grants

Like scholarships, grants don’t need to be repaid, and they can come from schools, the government, or outside organizations. They are typically awarded based on need rather than merit. Some state grant programs, particularly those from nonprofit organizations, often focus on individual fields like healthcare or nursing. Because these are available to a smaller pool of people, they offer applicants a greater chance of receiving them than general grants that are open to all fields. Some may even include mentoring opportunities and career support.

Nursing students can especially benefit from federal grants, as they typically provide larger amounts of aid that open the door to higher quality schools that students may not be able to afford.

Loans

If scholarships and grants don’t cover school expenses, student loans can make up the difference. They may be obtained from the state or federal government or private institutions such as banks. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates, and subsidized federal loans don’t accrue any interest while you are in college, making these the first choice for many students.

Private loans, which usually have higher interest rates, put a greater financial burden on students and may cause them to make career choices based on paying off their debt rather than pursuing their preferred field of expertise.

Financial Aid Checklist for RN to BSN Students: Set Yourself Up for Success

Even though each type of financial aid has specific requirements, there are some general steps that apply to most forms. To help you navigate the process, we’ve created the checklist below as an overview of what you need. We also share tips on how to receive faster funding with minimal anxiety.

Complete the FAFSA Early

As nursing students, you probably understand the importance of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in securing financial assistance. It’s not only necessary for federal aid but also helps colleges assess your eligibility for scholarships and grants. By filling out your FAFSA promptly, you increase your chances of receiving early notifications for scholarships, which can help you better plan out your finances for nursing school.

Thoroughly Review Eligibility Criteria & Requirements

Every scholarship and grant for nursing students has specific eligibility criteria, application procedures, and requirements to maintain the financial aid after receiving it. Failure to review this information could lead to mistakes on the application or a sudden loss of your financial assistance during your nursing program. By thoroughly examining each aid package, you can also find every financial opportunity available to you.

Check Deadlines and Apply Early

It’s always wise to apply early for scholarships and financial aid whenever possible. These deadlines may coincide with school requirements, and applying early avoids the stress of a last-minute scramble. Early submissions also demonstrate your commitment to your nursing education, which can indicate you are a worthy candidate for aid. Some funding operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so being an early applicant may increase your chances of receiving it.

Gather All Necessary Documents

Whether you plan to apply early or not, gathering all the necessary documents beforehand will streamline the process and help you avoid missing deadlines or leaving out a critical piece of paperwork. They usually include letters of recommendation, transcripts, financial information, standardized test scores, and a statement-of-purpose essay. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time and keep them organized for easy access.

Receive Feedback on Supplemental Materials

Asking a mentor or teacher to review your essays and other written materials before submission can help you stand out from other financial aid applicants. They can improve the accuracy and persuasiveness of your language. This helps you present yourself in the best possible light by highlighting your experience and education, showing its relevance to your nursing goals and why you’re the best candidate to receive aid.

Review Award Letters

Award letters are official documents stating that you’ve received a financial aid package from a school. These letters explain the type and amount of aid and the conditions for maintaining eligibility. You’ll also find instructions on how to accept or decline the aid. A thorough review of these letters ensures you understand the details and gives you the opportunity to compare multiple offers to determine which is your best financial option.