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Going to nursing school offers a way to gain training and education for a fulfilling career as a nurse. This career allows you to use the nursing skills you learn to provide patients with the best care possible, whether you end up working in a hospital, doctor’s office, or other healthcare facilities. Tuition costs for some of these programs might seem difficult to afford, depending on your budget. However, you do not need to let these costs deter you from pursuing a nursing degree. Exploring different payment options can help you determine how to pay for nursing school while staying within your budget. Keep the following payment options for nursing students in mind.

How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

Nursing school costs can vary considerably depending on the school you go to and the type of degree program you choose. In general, community colleges and public institutions usually cost less than private institutions. Tuition costs are typically lower for shorter degree programs or undergraduate degree programs, such as an associate or accelerated degree program. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for an undergraduate degree at a public in-state 4-year school is around $21,000, while a private 4-year can cost around $45,000.

These costs tend to be higher for advanced or graduate degree programs, such as a master’s or doctoral degree program. In some cases, an advanced degree program—a doctoral program, for example—could cost over $100,000 at a private institution. Nursing school costs can also vary depending on whether you choose to go to school full-time or part-time.

Other Nursing School Expenses

Nursing school expenses go beyond tuition. Other expenses nursing students can incur for their educations include professional equipment and incidentals like uniforms. Books and health costs due to drug screenings and other tests can also increase the amount nursing students spend. Additional expenses, such as transportation costs for clinicals or simply getting to and from classes, can also add up. Childcare and the loss of job income in order to focus on school might also add to nursing school expenses, depending on your situation. You will also need to pay for the NCLEX exam—a requirement to becoming a registered nurse—along with any review courses you may want to take.

Ways to Pay for Nursing School

Between tuition costs and other expenses, you might worry about being able to afford nursing school. No matter what your financial situation is, however, there are options to help you pay for education. Here are a few for you to consider as you look into paying for nursing school:

1. Scholarships

Scholarships can help reduce the amount that you owe for nursing school. While some scholarships might cover the full cost of tuition, others offer partial coverage. Since scholarships vary widely in terms of eligibility, you will need to look for ones that you qualify for. You can check for local scholarships or search online for available nursing school scholarships. Keep in mind that you can apply for scholarships at any time during your degree program, not just at the beginning or before you start.

2. Financial Aid

Financial aid for nursing school can come from student loans. Depending on your eligibility, you might qualify for a private student loan. Federal student loans are also an option to consider as a way to pay for nursing school. Student loans have varying interest rates, repayment schedules, and other factors to compare. Before you accept any student loans, you should take time to carefully go over these factors so that you will know how much you will be paying after graduating. This can help you choose a student loan that works best for your situation. When applying for financial aid, make sure you complete all forms and submit them on time.

3. Nursing Tuition Reimbursement

If you work, you might be able to get help paying for nursing school through your employer. Hospitals are known to reimburse RNs who earn a nursing degree while working for them. You should check with your employer to see if this kind of financial help is available. Some healthcare organizations are willing to offer tuition reimbursement since it helps nurses gain additional skills and training. This benefits you as a nurse as well as the organization you work for. Make sure you look over eligibility requirements if your employer offers reimbursement.

4. Military Service

Each branch of the military offers reimbursement or repayment options for educational opportunities. You might also have access to additional help through monthly stipends, which can help you pay for living expenses and other nursing school costs. Check with your branch to see what types of repayment or reimbursement options are available.

5. Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs provide a way for you to help cover school and living expenses while studying for your degree. With this arrangement, you might be able to gain experience in the nursing field, depending on the type of position you have. Keep in mind that these programs are part of your financial aid package. You might need to update your financial aid information if you accept a work-study position, such as when you no longer work in that position.

6. RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs offer an accelerated path to earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. If you are already an RN, you can check for programs that let you apply work experience toward credit hours. This can help reduce the amount of credit hours you will need to complete for your BSN. Lowering your required credit hours means you can earn your degree in less time, which can help bring nursing school costs down. In some cases, you may be able to complete your BSN in as few as two years.

7. Nursing Apprenticeships

Nursing apprenticeships provide you with a way to gain an education and work experience. These apprenticeship programs typically start with a focus on classroom learning, then move to hands-on or practical training. Some of these programs allow online or accelerated learning, which can provide more convenience for students and shorten the amount of time it takes for them to earn their degrees. If you look into nursing apprenticeships, check for ones that fit your situation, such as an online program rather than a traditional classroom learning program.

8. Nursing Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness programs allow eligible nurses to have all or some of their outstanding loan amount forgiven. The types of student loans that are eligible and the amounts included can vary. Explore your options by looking at the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program or the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. You can also check for student loan forgiveness programs that are available at the state level. Depending on the terms and conditions, you might be taxed on the forgiven amount, so plan ahead.

If you are looking for affordable nursing programs, please contact American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Science at Post University. Our accelerated online RN to BSN program allows you to earn your bachelor’s degree in a shortened timeframe, which helps keep nursing school costs down. Contact us to learn more about this program and our admissions process and requirements.


Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a list of our accredited online nursing programs on our website or reach out directly! 

Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.