2019-2020 Scholarships and Financial Aid for Nursing School

Healthcare is a rapidly growing part of the United States economy; as a result, the current demand for nurses is strong and expected to grow. This translates into a wealth of professional opportunities for those who want to work in nursing. Though there might be employers begging for nurses, getting a degree to become a nurse requires some thought and planning, especially when it comes to paying for school. That's where scholarships come in – they are awards that do not have to be paid back and can cover a big chunk of college expenses. This guide looks at the potential scholarships available to future and current nursing students.

Scholarships for Nursing Students

Use the tool below to get started in your search of nursing school scholarships. While we've gathered an extensive number of scholarships here, this still represents only a small number of nursing scholarship opportunities available to students who qualify.

General Scholarships

General scholarships are popular because they often have more open eligibility requirements. This doesn't necessarily mean they're easier to get, only that more students may be eligible to obtain an award.

AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund
  • Sponsor: AfterCollege and the AACN
  • Amount: $2,500 each calendar quarter
  • Deadline: The end of March, June, September and December

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For nursing students seeking a bachelor's or master's degree, with special consideration given to those seeking to be a nursing educator.

American School Health Association Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American School Health Association (ASHA)
  • Amount: $250
  • Deadline: Varies

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Helps ASHA member students in the medical field pay for attendance to an ASHA conference.

ARN Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN)
  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: July 1

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ARN offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for members, including those working toward a BSN degree.

Back to School Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: BestNursingScholarship.com
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Varies

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Available to current nursing students; it is awarded four times each year.

Barbara Rhomberg Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: B4 Brands
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: March 31

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Nontraditional students pursuing an undergraduate nursing degree are encouraged to apply for this scholarship.

Carol E. Holt Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Middle of February

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Based on financial need, this scholarship goes to one of three students attending or planning to attend an accredited nursing school.

Education Award
  • Sponsor: DiversityNursing.com
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: Early May

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Students from accredited nursing programs at any level may apply for this annual scholarship award.

FNSNA Promise of Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: The Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association, Inc. (FNSNA) and Johnson & Johnson
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: January

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Availability of this scholarship depends on localized fundraising efforts. Selection criteria include academic merit, financial need and student organization involvement.

Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: The end of January, April, July and October

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Awarded four times a year to two nursing students from an AACN member institution or those who have applied to a nursing school using NursingCAS. Applicants must have at least a 3.2 GPA.

HOSA Scholarship
  • Sponsor: HOSA-Future Health Professionals
  • Amount: Varies.
  • Deadline: Middle of March

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Through a network of partnerships, HOSA has a number of scholarships available for many professional fields, including nursing.

Lambda Pi Alpha Sorority Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Beta Mu Chapters of the Lambda Pi Alpha Sorority
  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: End of April

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Students enrolled in an associate or bachelor's nursing program who show a commitment to community service and academic excellence are eligible.

Madeline Pickett (Halbert) Cogswell Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Middle of February

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Only nursing students who are also members, descendants of members or are otherwise eligible to join the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution can apply for this scholarship.

National Lung & Respiratory Scholarship
  • Sponsor: The Eight and Forty
  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: Middle of May

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Students enrolled in an accredited nursing or respiratory therapist program may apply for this annual scholarship, with a preference for pediatric patient focus.

Tylenol Future Care Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Johnson & Johnson
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Late June

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Students with exceptional academic performance who plan on pursuing a medical field can apply.

US Air Force Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP)
  • Sponsor: US Air Force
  • Amount: Full Tuition plus a living expense stipend.
  • Deadline: Varies

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Available to those who commit to three years in the Air Force and intend to enroll in an allied health, dental, nursing or medical program.

Graduate Students

Many graduate students often have additional financial obligations (such as supporting a family) that can make paying for school more difficult. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid that don't have to be paid back are especially nice at this level.

AANP Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American Association of Nurse Practitioners
  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • Deadline: Late March

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Nurses pursuing an advanced nursing degree or certification are eligible to apply.

AORN Foundation Academic Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Association of periOperative Registered Nurses
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of June

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For nursing students at any bachelor's or graduate level program who are interested in a surgical or perioperative specialty.

Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing Doctoral Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Foundation
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: April 30

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Eligibility includes possession of a BCEN credential and enrollment in a doctoral level nursing program.

Chiyoko and Thomas Shimazaki Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Japanese American Citizens League (JACL)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 1

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Active National JACL members who are graduate students and plan on a career in a medical profession can apply.

Connie Dorry Memorial Fund
  • Sponsor: Florida Nurses Association
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: June 1

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Open to residents of Dade County who are studying in a master's level NP program.

Future of Nursing Scholarship Program
  • Sponsor: University of Pennsylvania
  • Amount: $125,000 over the course of three years
  • Deadline: Varies

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Goes to two doctoral students at the University of Pennsylvania seeking a PhD in a nursing-related field.

The F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program
  • Sponsor: US Army
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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Students in the US Army and seeking a master's degree to become a specialized nurse can apply.

Graduate Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Practice
  • Sponsor: American Cancer Society
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: November 1

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For advanced practice nurses who intend to focus on oncology.

Kathryn Suggs Chance Leonard Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Georgia Nurses Foundation
  • Amount: At least $500
  • Deadline: Middle of June

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Doctoral or master's level nursing students who are Georgia residents may apply.

KCNPNM Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners & Nurse-Midwives (KCNPNM)
  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: Middle of February

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Current RN, NP or CNM nurses who are members of the KCNPNM can apply for this scholarship to help pay for a doctoral degree in nursing.

March of Dimes Graduate Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: March of Dimes
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: Mid-January

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For current registered nurses enrolled in a graduate program with a focus on maternal-child nursing.

Lynne Edwards Research Scholarship
  • Sponsor: National Black Nurses Association, Inc. (NBNA)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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Applicants must be members of the NBNA and enrolled in a PhD nursing program.

NEF Graduate Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. (NEF)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: February 1

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Registered nurses in an accredited graduate nursing program in the United States are preferred applicants.

Nursing Economic$ Foundation Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Nursing Economic$
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: Middle of May

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Intended for registered nurses in graduate school who are focusing on administration or management.

Oncology Nursing Foundation Master's Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Oncology Nursing Foundation
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: February 1

See Scholarship

Master's level nursing students with an interest in oncology nursing can apply for this one-time scholarship.

Minority Students

As is the case with many other professions, certain groups of individuals aren't fully represented in the nursing field. To help remedy this issue, many organizations provide financial aid opportunities to students who are of minority status.

AAIA Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Association on American Indian Affairs
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of July

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Enrolled tribal citizens who are full-time students may apply for this merit-based scholarship.

AAMN Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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Male AAMN members from an accredited nursing program are eligible to apply.

AAPINA Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association (AAPINA)
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Early June

See Scholarship

Applicant must be an AAPINA member for at least two years and currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate nursing program.

America Indian Nurse Scholarship Award
  • Sponsor: The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA)
  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: June 1 (for fall semester) or December 1 (for spring semester)

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Students of American Indian background can apply for this scholarship if they enroll in a nursing, health care or health education field.

BD Scholarship
  • Sponsor: UNCF (United Negro College Fund)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Late December

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Open to undergraduates at all levels in a variety of fields, including nursing, and show financial need.

Elizabeth Garde National Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Danish Sisterhood of America
  • Amount: $850
  • Deadline: March 1

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Nursing students with a GPA of at least a 3.0 who are members of the Danish Sisterhood of America and desire a degree in nursing or similar profession can apply.

Hector Gonzalez Past Presidents Scholarship
  • Sponsor: National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN)
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: Varies

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Open to members of the NAHN only, with special preference given to male nursing students.

IHS Health Professions Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Indian Health Service (IHS)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Late March

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Assists American Indian and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in a bachelor's or graduate degree program that will lead to full-time clinical practice.

Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship
  • Sponsor: AACN, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson
  • Amount: $18,000
  • Deadline: Varies

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Minority students who agree to teach in a nursing school after graduation can apply. Preference given to those in doctoral programs.

The National Institute of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program
  • Sponsor: Office of Intramural Training & Education
  • Amount: Up to $20,000 per academic year
  • Deadline: Middle of March

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Students from disadvantaged backgrounds who plan on working in a behavioral, biomedical or social science /health relate research field and have exceptional financial need can apply.

NBNA Board of Directors Scholarship
  • Sponsor: National Black Nurses Association, Inc. (NBNA)
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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A member of the NBNA who is pursuing an undergraduate or graduate nursing degree can apply.

PEO International Peace Scholarship
  • Sponsor: PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization)
  • Amount: Up to $12,500
  • Deadline: Varies

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Peter Gili Scholarship Award
  • Sponsor: ExceptionalNurse.com
  • Amount: $500.00
  • Deadline: June 1

See Scholarship

In memory of Peter Gili, this scholarship goes to a nursing student who has a disability.

SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program Doctoral
  • Sponsor: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and American Nurses Association (ANA)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Early May

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Lasting three to five years, this fellowship is open to those belonging to an ethnic or racial minority group who are also nurses committed to studying minority substance abuse and mental health issues.

Udall Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
  • Amount: Up to $7,000
  • Deadline: Early March

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Approximately 50 students who choose a career of significant impact on Native Americans, such as healthcare, can receive this scholarship.

Nursing Specializations

The more experience a nurse has, the greater the opportunity for advancement. But getting a promotion or more challenging work often requires additional schooling. The following scholarships help pay for this training.

Anita Dorr Graduate Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Foundation
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: April 30

See Scholarship

Goes to a master's student in nursing with a focus on administration.

ANNA Career Mobility Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American Nephrology Nurses Association
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: Middle of October

See Scholarship

Full members of the ANNA involved in nephrology nursing can apply.

Basic Midwifery Edith B. Wonnell CNM Scholarship
  • Sponsor: American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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The ACNM makes this scholarship available to nursing midwives who plan on working outside a hospital who also show financial need, academic performance and leadership potential.

Bethesda Auxiliary Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Bethesda
  • Amount: $3,000
  • Deadline: Middle of May

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Available to undergraduate Lutheran students from any field of study, but they must choose an area that will allow them to serve individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Charlotte Liddell Scholarship Fund
  • Sponsor: Florida Nurses Association
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: June 1

See Scholarship

Applicants who intend to specialize in psychiatric nursing and decide to attend school in South Florida are given preference for this scholarship.

Charlotte McGuire Education Scholarship Program
  • Sponsor: American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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Open to AHNA members who plan to practice holistic nursing after becoming a registered nurse.

CNA Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Mercer Foundation for Health
  • Amount: Up to $500
  • Deadline: March 31

See Scholarship

Current or former high school students from Mercer County, Illinois who are studying to become a Certified Nursing Assistant are the primary recipients.

CRN Scholarship Award
  • Sponsor: Association for Radiologic & Imaging Nursing (ARIN)
  • Amount: Full payment of fees to register for the Certified Radiology Nurse exam
  • Deadline: Late December

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Goes to those studying to become certified radiology nurses.

Mary Alice Hartigan Scholarship for Nursing
  • Sponsor: Heartland Foundation
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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For residents of relevant counties in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas or Nebraska who plan on working in surgical nursing.

Mosaic Life Care Hospice Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Heartland Foundation
  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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Available to residents of relevant counties in Missouri who will provide care for those nearing the end of their lives.

NURSE Corps Scholarship Program
  • Sponsor: Health Resources & Services Administration
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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Nursing students can receive financial assistance for all aspects of their nursing education if they promise to work at a medical facility with a critical nursing shortage.

Oncology Nursing Foundation Bachelor's in Nursing Degree Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Oncology Nursing Foundation (ONF)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: February 1

See Scholarship

Those looking to focus on oncology nursing after completion of a bachelor's degree in nursing are encouraged to apply.

Stephanie Carroll Scholarship
  • Sponsor: The National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (NADONALTC)
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 1

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For nursing students devoted to working in the long-term care or geriatrics field after nursing school.

VITAS Healthcare/Esther Colliflower Scholarship
  • Sponsor: National Black Nurses Association, Inc. (NBNA) and VITAS Healthcare
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

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Open to both current nurses and student nurses, as long as they pursue a career in end-of-life medical care.

William K. Schubert Minority Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • Amount: Up to $2,750
  • Deadline: April 30

See Scholarship

This scholarship was created to encourage minority nursing students to go into pediatric care at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center after graduation.

State or School Specific

A student's residency or institution of choice can make a big difference in the cost of attendance. Many states and schools have special financial aid opportunities for their students or residents, a few of which are listed below.

Alabama Board of Nursing Graduate Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Alabama Board of Nursing
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: July 31

See Scholarship

Alabama residents who already have an RN license and are enrolled in a graduate nursing program in Alabama can apply.

Albert E. and Florence W. Newton Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Rhode Island Foundation
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

See Scholarship

Designed for nursing students who demonstrate financial need, with a preference given to Rhode Island residents.

Alice Newell Joslyn Medical Scholarship
  • Sponsor: BECA Foundation
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Early March

See Scholarship

Students planning on pursuing a career in the medical or healthcare fields can apply for this scholarship if they are also from, or will attend school in, San Diego County, California.

The Barbara Forfar Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: The Barbara Forfar Nursing Scholarship Fund
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: July

See Scholarship

In addition to being enrolled in a nursing program, applicant must also be an employee or student at Ocean Medical Center.

BBNA Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Birmingham Black Nurses Association (BBNA)
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Middle of August

See Scholarship

Nursing students from the state of Alabama who are also in an undergraduate pre-licensure nursing program are eligible.

Bertha P. Singer Nurses Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Oregon Student Assistance Commission
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: March 1

See Scholarship

Students attending an Oregon institution of higher learning who are also majoring in nursing can apply for this need-based scholarship.

District of Columbia Nursing Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Middle of February

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Current nursing students at the University of the District of Columbia who are also residents of Washington, D.C. are eligible.

Echomae Anderson and Esther Pritchard Endowed Doctoral Scholarship
  • Sponsor: The University of Utah
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: Early February

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Doctoral students attending the University of Utah's College of Nursing who can show academic excellence and financial need are encouraged to apply.

eQuality Scholarship
  • Sponsor: eQuality Scholarship Collaborative
  • Amount: $6,000
  • Deadline: January 31

See Scholarship

In addition to attending a post-secondary institution in California to study nursing or other health related fields, applicants must also demonstrate service to the LGBT community.

Edwina Foye Award for Outstanding Graduate Student
  • Sponsor: Foundation for Seacoast Health
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: April 1

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For undergraduate and graduate students who choose a health-related field of study and are also residents of specific towns in New Hampshire or Maine.

Katherine Pope Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Georgia Nurses Foundation
  • Amount: At least $500
  • Deadline: Middle of June

See Scholarship

Goes to residents of Georgia who are working toward a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Nancy Gerald Memorial Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Amarillo Area Foundation
  • Amount: $500
  • Deadline: February

See Scholarship

Nursing students attending Amarillo College or West Texas A&M University may apply.

Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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Residents of the state who attend any post-secondary level Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing approved program are encouraged to apply.

Upfront Merit Scholarship – Accelerated Nursing Students Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Nebraska Methodist College
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Varies

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Students at Nebraska Methodist College with at least a 3.0 GPA are in the nursing program are eligible for this financial aid award.

Velma Flies Anderson Scholarship
  • Sponsor: Heartland Foundation
  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Middle of April

See Scholarship

Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited RN program and also be residents of relevant counties in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas or Nebraska.

From the Expert: Sherrod Wilkerson

Director of Student Financial Services at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

Wilkerson has worked in student aid for over ten years. He is passionate about helping individuals understand the student aid process. He’s been recognized as an Emerging Leader by the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Sherrod earned a graduate degree in Higher Education from Vanderbilt and is currently the Director of Student Financial Services at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.
How would you advise a student just starting to consider financing their nursing school education?

The very first thing I would suggest is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). If they are applying for our school, we also ask them to complete the student aid application. If they are not certain where they want to go to school, we would encourage them to contact the schools, go to their websites and find out what additional forms they need to complete to be eligible for financial aid. For example, some schools require students to fill out a separate application for school scholarships, whereas here at Johns Hopkins, the admissions application is also their scholarship application.

Can you tell me a little about the scholarships available through your school?

We have a number of scholarships available that are awarded through the admissions process. There is a full-tuition scholarship available, but the typical merit award is a half-tuition scholarship.

Do you have students who also apply to outside scholarship programs?

Yes, we do. That process is up to the student. However, as we come across information, we pass it on to our student population to let them know.

How about other funding options?

There are a lot of workforce development programs out there for nurses. One of the bigger ones is the Health Resources and Services Administration. They have a lot of repayment and scholarship programs and we always encourage our students to apply for those. We've been pretty fortunate over the past few years in having students receive those awards. On top of that, nearly every state has their own workforce development program for nurses.

How do your students handle student loans?

Any student here that applies for student aid is offered a loan as part of the self-help component. However, the amount they're offered can vary. I would say about 60% to 70% of our students use federal student loans.

Are there work-study programs offered at Johns Hopkins and if so, how do they work?

They are available to our students as with any similar institution. We will post jobs. The student then goes to an interview and then through the hiring process. Once they've been hired, students will work up to twenty hours per week maximum. They will receive payment in the form of a check to use for the personal or travel expenses, or any other expenses during course of the year. It is possible to have those funds directly apply to tuition, but we encourage our students to take those payments directly.

What is the biggest mistake that you see students make in going through the nursing school funding process?

Starting the research process late or forgetting the research process altogether. Finding the best funding opportunities is a matter of research, research, research. A lot of times individuals may not know the best options for them because they don't do enough research. I'll give you an example. A student can go to a school in their state and receive a quality education and pay as an in-state resident. However, if the student qualifies for a larger scholarship at an out-of-state school, the total education cost could be cheaper. But someone wouldn't know that unless they research the options that are out there.

Steps to Finding Scholarships & Grants

Scholarships are basically free money, which means plenty of competition exists when applying for them. To have the best chances of obtaining a scholarship or grant, applicants must plan ahead and consider the following steps.

  1. Conduct a financial self-assessment: Every financial situation is different, so the first step for any scholarship applicant should be to determine how much money they need for school. Many scholarships and grants take financial need into consideration. Therefore, knowing the extent of one's financial hardship (or lack thereof) can help decide which scholarships to apply to and which to avoid. For instance, if time and resources are short, it may not be wise to apply for a $20,000 per year scholarship which is awarded primarily based on financial need when the applicant's graduate school tuition is only $5,000 per year and their annual personal income is $80,000.
  2. Create a professional and personal resume: All scholarship organizations want to know as much as possible about an applicant. Many scholarships will ask for resumes, as well as information about a student's life, such as extracurricular activities, hobbies, life-changing moments and professional goals. Compiling this information ahead of time can make the scholarship process much smoother.
  3. Start searching for scholarships at the school: Now that credentials and financial need are squared away, it's time to look for scholarships. Always start with the school itself. Many schools have exclusive scholarships available only to their own students. Depending on the applicant's financial situation, one of these school-specific scholarships may be enough to pay for the remaining portion of tuition after financial aid kicks in.
  4. Check out other places offering scholarships: There are many other organizations that offer scholarships and grants. Charitable organizations, professional associations, churches, major companies, small businesses and state and local government are all potential sources of financial aid. To get started, use an online search engine and type in "nursing scholarships."
  5. Organize a list of scholarships to apply to: It's obvious, but it bears repeating: the more scholarships a person applies to, the greater the chances of getting an award. But applying to more than a few requires careful organization to can keep track of deadlines and individual requirements. A special binder or spreadsheet is ideal to stay organized and on top of individual scholarship requirements and due dates.
  6. Identify recommenders: Many scholarships require one or more letters of recommendation, especially the more competitive ones. It might take a few emails or phone calls to figure out who will not only be the best recommender, but who will have the time to write the letter. It's good to give the recommender as much time as possible to write the a glowing review of your work and knowledge. Nothing will temper a recommender's enthusiasm like asking them to write the letter with a deadline of less than 72 hours.
  7. Gather transcripts and test scores: Sometimes these can be surprisingly tough to get. While official test scores or transcripts may not be required until after a scholarship is awarded, it may still take several days or more to obtain a simple printout of these important academic papers.
  8. Start the applications as early as possible: Starting the application sooner rather than later gives enough time to get everything done before the deadline. It also allows extra time for recommenders to write their letters and for applicants to revise essays. Speaking of essays: if the scholarship requires one, start writing it as soon as possible.
  9. Fill out the application forms: Once the above steps are complete, filling out applications should be a relatively simple process of copying information into forms and assembling application packets. Double check the eligibility requirements and instructions to avoid wasting time by submitting a scholarship application that is late or incomplete.
  10. Submit the application on time: Some scholarship applications take a lot of time and effort to complete. Don't let all that hard work go to waste because of a missed deadline. Many scholarship review committees have a tough time choosing a worthy student to give a scholarship to; therefore, late applications are much more likely to be ignored.

Financial Aid & Nursing School

As mentioned above, scholarships and grants offer great opportunities to help pay for nursing school, but they are far from a student's only options. The most common source of financial aid for college students in any course of study, in fact, is student loans. There are a number of loan sources available for nursing students. The place to begin, as mentioned earlier, is with the Federal Student Aid program and the FAFSA®. FAFSA® is the application students fill out to determine eligibility for all federal student loans as well as by most private lenders. Federal Student Aid sponsors several loan plans to college students regardless of area of study. They include the Federal Perkins Loan, Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Direct LOAN Plus. Details for each can be found here. Another federal loan source for nursing students is the HRSA. The HRSA's Nursing Student Loans program provides long-term low-interest loans to full-time and half-time students pursuing a course of study leading to a diploma, associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree. To be eligible for a HRSA loan, a student must demonstrate financial need and provide financial information about his or her parents. Private students loans are another option, but are less preferable when compared to federal loans due to less attractive interest rates and terms.

How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

Any potential nursing student wants to know how much this endeavor is going to cost. Unfortunately, there's no easy answer. Many variables affect the cost of attendance; let's look at some of the biggest factors that affect the cost of getting a nursing degree.

Residency status

Attending a school as an in-state resident can save tens of thousands of dollars. According to The College Board, the average in-state tuition rate at a four-year institution with in-state residency status is about $9,400 per year. However, as an out-of-state student, that same school would cost almost $24,000 per year.

Type of school

Private schools generally cost more than public ones. Depending on the student's desires and professional needs, this extra cost might be money well spent, as it can lead to more effective learning and better opportunities to network.

Type of degree

The longer a program takes, the more it costs to get that degree. So it's no surprise than an associate degree (which typically takes two years) will usually cost far less than a doctoral degree (which typically takes five or more years) or a four-year bachelor's degree.

School location

Cost of living is an often overlooked aspect of calculating school cos. It's an important factor, especially if attending a traditional school and living off-campus. For example, it'll take a lot more money to pay for housing in a place like San Francisco or New York City than it will in a small college town in the southern part of the country.

Students' academic and professional background

If an incoming student can bypass certain classes due to earlier coursework or years of experience in a certain field, they can shave a semester or more off their degree program. For instance, at the University of Kansas, an incoming student who is already a registered nurse may be able to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing online in as little as one calendar year.

Type of program

One way to save money on schooling is to enroll in an online program. The ability to avoid moving costs as well as the opportunity for asynchronous learning can make an online degree significantly more affordable than a traditional college or university education.

Loan Repayment & Forgiveness for Graduates

If you consider scholarships and grants as free money, you'll understand why using them to pay for your education is always preferable to student loans. Loans leave a student with a debt load that could take some students years, even decades, to pay off, which could result in long delays to achieving life goals like buying a home or starting a family. Fortunately, there are a few options available to nursing school graduates to help pay off their student loans more easily or have those loans partially or completely forgiven. Because of the substantial need for qualified nurses throughout the nation, nursing school graduates are very likely eligible for loan repayment or forgiveness programs regardless of where they live. Here is a brief look at the leading loan repayment and forgiveness programs for nursing students:

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Nurses

Nursing students with Federal Perkins Loan debt are able to have 100% of their loan balance forgiven over a five-year period. To qualify, a debtor must be employed full-time as a nurse, defined by the program as a licensed practical nurse, a registered nurse, or other individual who is licensed by the appropriate state agency to provide nursing services. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. To apply for cancellation, students should contact their loan servicer.

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

Sponsored by the HRSA, the NURSE Corp Loan Repayment Program will pay 60% of a debtor's unpaid nursing student loans in two years in return for two years of service at a program-defined “critical-shortage facility.” Participants may also receive an additional payment of 25% of their original loan balance for an optional third year of service. Nurse faculty participants are required to work at an accredited public or private non-profit school of nursing. Application for this program is made directly to the HRSA. More information can be found here.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) forgives the remaining balance on a student's Direct Loan after he or she has made 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Qualifying employers include government organizations at any level, tax-exempt not-for-profit organizations and other not-for-profits that provide certain types of qualifying services. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

State-Sponsored Loan Repayment and Forgiveness Programs

Loan repayment and forgiveness programs can additionally be found on the state level. Plan eligibility and application procedures vary from state to state and program to program. Check with a state's nursing board for more information. A good source to start research for state programs is provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Nursing Graduate School & Aid

Graduate nursing students face a different set of financing challenges compared to their undergraduate counterparts, but are also eligible for financial programs designated specifically for them. The search begins much the same way as with undergraduates. Graduate students should first seek help from their school's financial aid department where they can explore the federal grant and loan programs discussed above. Financial aid departments can also fill students in on these additional potential financing sources:

Fellowships

While the terms internship and fellowship are often used interchangeably, fellowships are typically found more on the graduate level and involve graduate research or other work by the student. Graduate fellowships often involve specialized educational programs, additional classroom time, and hands-on training. Fellowships are offered by governmental agencies, non-profit organizations and private hospitals and clinics. Financial compensation is normally made in the form of regular salaries or monthly or yearly stipends.

Internships and Residencies

The terms “internship” and “residency” are often both used in the titles of their extended orientation programs for nursing graduates and graduate students. These programs are typically paid positions that allow the graduate to help finance his or her education while learning a specialized area of nursing practice. Lengths of internships and residencies can run from a few weeks to a year or longer.

From the Expert: Patrick Tufford

Assistant Director of Academic Services at the University of Washington School of Nursing

Patrick Tufford is the assistant director of academic services at the University of Washington's School of Nursing.
When a student first comes to you about funding nursing school, what do you tell them?

I start by talking to the student about the financial aid process at the federal level. The very basic first step is to file your FAFSA®, which qualifies you for federal funding as well as funding at the university level. We have some funding awards in the form of scholarships, grants and work-study student, things like that, depending on your unmet need number. The need number, which comes from the FAFSA® process, is the amount of need that the student is not expected to fund out of his or her own personal resources. Based on that need, we'll award scholarships, grants, and we have a very tiny amount of loan money as well.

Do your students also pursue outside scholarships?

Yes, that's the next step. There are lots of scholarships that are not administered through us and that we may or may not know about. But we do maintain a financial aid blog where if we do know about a program out there that would be relevant to our students we'll post it to the blog.

Do you have any other in-house sources of funding that students can take advantage of?

We encourage students, particularly grad students to look into research assistant and teaching assistant jobs because in addition to the stipend they get just for working, under certain conditions they can get a tuition waiver as well.

We all know that debt from loans has become a significant problem for many students. How do nursing students handle the problem?

Nursing has some benefits when it comes to debt. Most of our students work as nurses in some capacity or another, or have in the recent past. And depending on where they're working, they may qualify for tuition waivers. For example, we have a medical center system here that is affiliated with the university. The people who work there are state employees and can qualify for some forms of tuition waivers. There are also loan repayment programs. If you want to become nursing faculty, for example, there's a faculty loan repayment program where under certain conditions they will repay a large percentage of a student's loans. Likewise, if you are working in some rural or other populations, there are some loan repayment programs for that. In those programs, you usually have to commit to two years, but you get a large percentage of your loan repaid. So, if you are looking to get your loan paid off quickly, that can be a good way to do it.

Do you have any particular advice for students just starting to consider how to pay for their nursing school education?

I've made the rounds with many of the other administrators here who handle financial assistance and I think universally their advice has to do with taking on too much debt. That's the biggest pitfall for students. You know, you get into school and to get some aid in the form of scholarships, or not, and you take out loans for the rest of the costs. And by the time you finish school, you could be $60,000 in debt. So, making sure you aren't taking on too much debt, especially in the form of unsubsidized loans. That's our biggest worry for students and we make sure that we advise them frequently to take advantage of counseling from our financial aid office.

Additional Nursing Resources

More Guides for Nursing Students

In additional to scholarships, there are other forms of financial aid out there. There's also the significant question of choosing the right nursing program. To learn more about these and similar topics, take a look at these pages.