Nursing students risk missing some sources to help pay for college. Why? There are many options, including federal and state loans, general merit and need-based scholarships and grants, PLUS a whole slew of loans, reimbursement and repayment programs, and unique scholarships and grants built just for nursing students.
Before you dig into the special scholarships, grants and reimbursement programs designed specifically for nursing students, you must first apply for your federal and state based financial aid programs.
This “generic” funding is available across the board to students studying in community college up to university doctoral level studies.
Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline. Miss the deadline and you’re out of luck for the upcoming academic year. Don’t think you’d qualify anyway because your family isn’t “poor”? Guess what? Most students with that belief are wrong. The Stafford Loans are some of the most popular and most disbursed college loans in the country, for good reason—9 times out of 10 students qualify for some level of aid. And many more actually qualify for Pell Grants—and that’s free money you never need repay. True, your Stafford Loan allowance may not be much, but every few hundred dollars is that much less you have to pay out yourself.
Another argument for filling out the FAFSA: many scholarship and grant programs will not consider your application unless you’ve applied for your federal loans via the FAFSA. That’s like leaving thousands of dollars on the table for others to snag.
Possibly one of the next best options for nursing students is the possibility of a tuition reimbursement, loan repayment or nursing loan program. Your state government could be giving out low-cost nursing loans with possible repayment in exchange for a few years of your time as a nurse working in a medically underserved facility after you graduate.
Some states are giving out these types of nursing loans, and loan forgiveness to students willing to become Nurse Educators and teach in a state nursing school for a few years. You can thank the nursing shortage for lucrative programs like these.
If you’ve at all considered the military, active duty or reserve, you’d be remiss in not checking out the amazing repayment, reimbursement and sign-on bonus programs the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard sponsor for new and practicing nurses. In some cases you can get $30,000 or $40,000 to pay off student loans AND $5,000 or $10,000 each year you serve for up to 3 years—as a bonus stipend.