How to Pay for Nursing School

Nursing school can be expensive, and you’re probably wondering about your options to pay for it. Today I am going to be talking about how to pay for nursing school. Most programs recommend that you don’t work while attending, or that you stop at a certain quarter. That can mean that you’re going to have to make some decisions on how you are going to pay for school, AND how you are going to pay for your living expenses.

Everyone is at different places in their lives during nursing school, so not everyone has the same options. There are some students that are living at home with their parents, and others that have families or children and have been working full time for years to support themselves. I’m just going to be going over some of the options, but it can be different in every state or school. As a disclaimer, I recommend talking to financial aid and weighing your options. I don’t work at a financial aid office so this post is based on my personal experience and what I know others are doing to put themselves through school.

For some background, if you’re new here, I am in an ADN (2-year) nursing program at a community college. I just completed quarter four and am set to graduate in June 2022. After that, I plan on attending the RN to BSN program at a university while working. Every quarter I posted a recap of how it went, which you can check out below:

How to Pay for Nursing School

1. Scholarships and Grants

Money that you don’t have to pay back! You can fill out your FASFA when it’s released during October the year prior to when you will be starting school. You can also look through your school’s website to see any scholarships that they have posted that you can apply for. Money that you don’t have to pay back is the most ideal way to go to school, as you probably know.

If you have already been accepted to your program, apply for nursing-specific scholarships. I have been in school a *long* time and before this quarter had applied tens of times for scholarships, as well as FASFA, and had never received anything. This year I finally received scholarships and grants after applying for scholarships that were specific to my school and program.

2. Work

This can be hard to manage since nursing programs can discourage working. If you have a job that is flexible with hours and scheduling or allows you to do schoolwork during downtime, it can be much easier. While I haven’t worked during my ADN program (although I do plan on working for my RN to BSN), I have seen a lot of others in my cohort be successful with good time management, especially those who are working part-time.

You can also get nursing school paid for by your job. If you work in a healthcare setting, look into tuition reimbursement programs they may have to see if you have options. Some programs may require you to continue working for a certain amount of hours each week.

3. Loans

If you do not want to work during the program, or did not receive scholarships or grants, loans maybe your best option. Keep in mind that school is an investment and don’t take on more than you can afford to pay.

If you are really worried about having to pay loans, look into loan forgiveness programs. Some government, public service, and non-profit positions have programs in place to forgive your loans if you work for them for a certain amount of years.

4. Military

If you’re not yet in a nursing school, you can become a nurse through the military. This is by having either your school paid for if you serve for a certain amount of years, or by enlisting. If this interests you, definitely look into it. For more information on this route, you can read an article with more information, here.

5. Workers Retraining

Workers Retraining is a program that you may qualify for if you have lost your job and are receiving unemployment. This program (which you can find more information about and see if you qualify through your college) will pay for your tuition, books, and other school-related necessities. In addition, you will continue to receive your weekly unemployment benefits throughout the duration of your program.

6. Save

If you know that you want to pursue nursing and it’s not in your near future, save! If you are able to save even a couple of thousands of dollars or pay ahead bills, it will help relieve some of your stress about money in school. You can save money by canceling some of your existing subscriptions, creating a strict budget to see where you can cut expenses, getting roommates, or even moving back in with your parents if that’s an option for you. You will thank yourself in the future if you save as much as you can, especially because there are a lot of expenses when it comes to school (my textbooks were $1600 alone!).

7. Choose an ADN Over a BSN Program

You can save a lot of money by choosing a 2-year ADN program over a 4-year BSN program and then going back to school later. While you can earn more with a BSN, many nursing positions over tuition assistance to go back and get your BSN within a certain amount of years (3 years at hospitals near me). Tuition for universities, especially private, can end up being $50,000+. A community college that is offering an ADN program will run you around $10,000- 20,000. It also depends on the state, program, and additional expenses. This does not include any scholarships or financial aid you receive.

How I Pay for Nursing School

I use a combination of the above methods to pay for nursing school. I was fortunate to have low expenses since I lived with my parents before starting. Even though I have since moved out, I was able to save a lot before starting. A personal goal of mine is to not have loans. Like I said above, I have been in school a long time. I worked full time while taking my nursing pre-reqs so I could pay for it outright on a payment plan. I’ve had time to save and that’s helped me more than if I would’ve gone straight into school at 18. I also received scholarships and grants this year, and I receive worker’s retraining that has helped so much!

Final Thoughts

I don’t think loans are the end of the world. Nurses can make a lot of money, especially depending on their field and overtime. If you have to take out a reasonable amount of loans, chances are you won’t be paying them off for decades.

Everyone’s circumstance is different, so it can be a hard decision to decide what’s best for you and your family. I hope you’ve found some options through this post. I 100% recommend talking to the financial aid office if you have already been accepted to a school to further discuss your options for your circumstance. 

As always, you can find me on Instagram @maddie_deer here, or can follow me on my Facebook page to be alerted of any new posts here. For more pre-nursing posts, you can check out some of my previous posts, below!


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