Paying for Nursing School: 5 Things You Should Know

illustration of a nurse with a piggy bank representing paying for nursing school

The moment you decide to make a change and pursue a better career is empowering. You take your future into your own hands and make a choice that you hope will improve your life and the lives of your loved ones. Choosing to become a nurse is a big deal. Naturally, you want to make sure you’ve considered every angle possible. Likely one of the biggest considerations on your mind is how to pay for nursing school.

There are many types of nursing programs out there, with different delivery models, approaches and operating styles. But they all have one thing in common—tuition. While there’s certainly a range in how much nursing schools cost, depending on the institution, prospective nursing students everywhere should consider a few things before enrolling in their program of choice. If you’re worried about the cost of nursing school and how you’ll manage the expense, it’s worth taking the time to review your options for potentially keeping expenses down.

To help facilitate that, we asked nurses how they handled paying for nursing school. Let their advice lead you in a good direction.

Paying for nursing school: Options and advice to consider

1. Consider working for your school

If your university has student jobs, they can be very compatible with your school schedule and a great way to support yourself while gaining extra training.

“The most important thing I did to lower the financial impact of my nursing school program was to work for the university,” says Karin Ashley, NP. Ashley applied for positions that would pay a portion of the tuition and found that these work arrangements were also beneficial to her overall studies and future nursing career.

“Opportunities to work in the university system have double the benefits,” Ashley says. “You are able to get out of school with less debt, you get experience in your field and gain valuable references.” Ashley also emphasizes the value of expanding your experience and network through a job. Her experience working in a medical clinic during her program helped her decide which type of facility she wanted to work in and the specialties she liked. “And I gained connections for the job hunt when I graduated.”

2. Get serious about scholarship applications

“There are many financial aid opportunities, but you have to seek them out,” says Lisa Nicholas, MSN-RN and clinical instructor at UNLV Nursing.

Many of these scholarship or grant applications take time. You need to do some research to find them, then you have to fill out the applications and sometimes ask for letters of recommendation, all of which can feel like extra work for an unsure payoff. But Nicholas says the chance of winning some financial assistance is worth it.

When seeking out nursing scholarships, it can help to explore some of the niche options offered by specialty nursing organizations, according to Alice Benjamin, family nurse practitioner and chief nursing officer for Benjamin explains many people don’t ever think to apply to these highly specific scholarship options—and that can be to your benefit, as a smaller application pool will likely help your odds.

3. Don’t wait to make payments if feasible

It’s incredibly easy to think of student loan payments as a problem to solve later when you’re a student. But depending on your situation and the type of loan you’re taking on, you may be adding some unnecessary overall cost by not chipping away what you can while still enrolled. Private and unsubsidized federal loans will begin to accumulate interest while you’re in school—and even a small monthly payment can result in substantial savings. 

Benjamin says she wished she would have started paying back her unsubsidized loans while still in nursing school. “That would have really knocked down a lot of the interest that accumulated.”

“I would recommend paying as much as possible on a monthly basis,” Ashley says. “Paying even small amounts on the principal loan amount will make a huge difference in interest over the life of the loan.”

Your comfort level with this advice may vary. If you feel like you have enough of a financial cushion to safely chip away and help keep interest accruals from snowballing, then this is a move you’ll thank yourself for later.

4. Look into employer tuition assistance

In today’s competitive healthcare market, many employers offer tuition reimbursement or assistance programs and scholarships as a recruitment tactic, Benjamin says. These programs help employees afford additional training and education and are used as an incentive to help bolster the company’s workforce.

The details of these programs will vary depending on your employer—some prefer or require employees to enroll in programs directly related to their current role, while others are less restrictive. Before enrolling, you’ll want to do your research regarding employer restrictions or eligibility requirements.

“The downside is that much of that information is written in fine print somewhere and not well advertised,” Benjamin says. She recommends talking to someone from your organization’s human resources department or with a union representative to learn more about what options may be available. “Do so well in advance because there will be deadlines and requirements that need to be met in order to participate in these programs,” Benjamin says. 

5. Contact your school’s financial aid office

Once you’ve chosen a nursing program, your university’s financial aid office can really assist with locating opportunities for qualified students to keep costs down. Nicholas suggests connecting with a member of the financial aid office to ask questions about scholarships, tuition assistance, loans, grants and anything else you may qualify for. While qualification for these forms of aid is not a given, many students never realize that they can make an appointment or call their financial aid office just to ask questions, according to Nicholas. “[They] may present financial aid opportunities that you easily qualify for.”

Do you know how to pay for nursing school?

One thing is for sure—with an aging baby boomer population reaching the peak of its healthcare needs and shortages pushed by the pandemic straining resources, few want prospective nurses to turn away from the career because they can’t afford nursing school. Whether the aid comes from your nursing program, a future employer, a nursing organization or other institutions invested in the future of healthcare, you might find just the help you need with some extra research.

If you haven’t investigated it yet, you might also want to think about general financial aid for college students since most of those programs and resources apply to nursing programs as well. If you are making a list of ways to offset your nursing school costs, check out “Your Most Pressing Financial Aid Questions Answered.”

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a senior content manager who writes student-focused articles for Rasmussen University. She holds an MFA in poetry and worked as an English Professor before diving into the world of online content. 

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star