How to Find and Apply for Scholarships, Grants, and Loans

Going back to school can be expensive. By choosing to get your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will be qualified for better jobs that may come result in higher pay rates. If you want a to be hired in one of these advanced registered nurse positions, but are worried that you do not have the money for college, there are a number of financial aid programs you can consider to help you pay for school.

BSN Scholarships

Scholarships are great for students because they do not have to be repaid once you graduate. They are typically given out based on talent or academic merit and can be found through a variety of platforms, including your college. Be careful when looking for scholarships outside of your educational institution. It is important to research the organizations offering scholarships before you pay or give your credit card information, since they could be fraudulent and try to steal your identity. The U.S. Department of Labor has a free scholarship search tool, and the following are also trusted organizations that have offered scholarships to nurses in the past:

  • Alpha Tau Delta
  • CrossLites
  • Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Global Scholarship Alliance
  • Health Careers Foundation
  • Health Occupations Students of America
  • International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons
  • National Student Nurses’ Association

In addition, you can also look for scholarships that are available to students regardless of academic field of study. These scholarships usually require you to write an essay, and the entries are judged based on criteria determined by the individual scholarship committees. These are typically very competitive, therefore you should apply to as many as possible in order to cover your tuition and other expenses. If you do receive any scholarship money, notify your school’s financial aid department. This is imperative so that they can add it to your statement, and assess what you may still owe.

If this seems overwhelming, just know that you are not the only one exploring these options for financial aid. Here is a chart provided by the U.S. Department of Education that illustrates the number of full-time, first-time students receiving financial aid from 2001-2013.

Financial Aid Recipients from 2001-2013

Source:U.S. Department of EducationNational Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS, and Student Financial Aid component

BSN Grants

Like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid. Grants consist of money that either the federal government or an independent organization has allotted to give away to students. This money is awarded to students based on financial need rather than merit. If you do not feel comfortable showcasing your special skills, talents, or writing essays, grants are another option that will allow you to fund your education. The Federal Pell Grant is the most common government grant awarded to students once their FAFSA (Federal Student Financial Aid) has been filed. The amount of this grant varies from year to year, so it is important to fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible. If the Federal Pell Grant does not fully meet your financial needs, you may qualify for grants that are offered by independent organizations specifically for nursing such as:

  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • IHC Foundation
  • AAOHN Foundation
  • Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society

BSN Loans

While loans are not ideal, they can be necessary to cover the costs of your tuition. Nearly all students are eligible for student loans either through the government or private sources. If you do have to take out loans, there are a few facts that you should consider:

  1. Federal and Private Loans – Taking out subsidized or unsubsidized loans from the federal government is much less risky than a private loan. Federal loans typically have lower interest rates and more deferment and repayment plan options. If you absolutely have to take out a private loan, make sure you research the interest rates and fees thoroughly before applying.
  2. Subsidized and Unsubsidized – The biggest difference between these two types of loans is that a direct subsidized loan will not accrue interest while you are attending school at least as a part time student. This is because the government is paying the interest on your loan for you, whereas a direct unsubsidized loan does accrue interest even while you are in school. Both of these types of loans are available to all undergraduate and some graduate students, and do not need to be repaid until six months after you have dropped below a part-time enrollment with your school.
  3. Accepting or Canceling a Loan – Once you have completed your FAFSA, you will receive an award letter that states how much and what kind of federal loans you are eligible for. If you need these loans, you can accept either the full amount or request a lower amount through your school’s financial aid department. To cancel a loan or to deny receiving those funds, you must notify your school’s financial aid department before the loans are dispersed and/or placed into your account.

As a nurse, you may be able to have some of these student loans repaid or forgiven through government programs. In addition, some employers will pay for your education in order to advance the knowledge of their employees, and hopefully you will not have to apply for student loans at all.

One thing is certain, it is possible for any RN to go back to school to get a BSN, as long as you are willing to put in the time, hard work, and dedication. If money is the issue holding you back right now, check out the scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid available. You might be surprised at just how easy it is to pay for school.

Online LVN to BSN Degree Programs

LVNs can earn a BSN degree online in half the time and cost of traditional programs. Achieve Test Prep has a 92% pass rate on exams, no waiting lists to get started, low cost financing options available, and no long-term contacts required. You can learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination and then transfer to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100’s of universities nationwide.
South University provides students both a Bachelor's and Master's program in Nursing. The on campus bachelor's degree prepares students for careers at acute care hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and community-based clinics. The online master's degree provides advanced study in clinical teaching skills and research.

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