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The rapidly growing field of nursing presents plenty of opportunities to make a good living, and make a difference in the world.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts demand for licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and nurse anesthetists, midwives, and practitioners will grow exponentially over the next eight years.
Before you can reap the financial and spiritual benefits of a nursing career, you’ll have to pay for nursing school, which usually takes anywhere from one to six years. Let’s take a closer look at how much a nursing education costs and how you can pay for one.
What nursing degrees can I pursue?
A variety of nursing degrees are available, including …
- Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN or LVN): To become an LPN or LVN, you’ll need to complete a certificate or diploma program that usually takes about a year. As an LPN or LVN, you can expect to earn an average salary of $48,820 per year.
- Registered Nurse (RN): If you’d like to work as an RN, you may earn an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. You’ll also need an RN license. Depending on the educational route you choose, it’ll take you anywhere from two to four years of college to become an RN. The average salary for an RN is $75,330 per year.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APN): TYou’ll need a master’s degree in nursing or even a doctor of nursing practice as well as an APN license. While APNs usually undergo two additional years of schooling, it may take more or less time, depending on the type of program you choose and whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. If you become an APN, you may earn an average salary of $117,670 per year.
Understanding your potential future earnings can help give you an idea of how much student loan payment you’ll be able to afford.
Credible makes it easy to compare rates from multiple lenders and get an idea of what your monthly payment might be.
How much is nursing school?
A number of factors play a role in how much you’ll pay for nursing school, including where you receive your nursing degree, whether your program is online or in-person, and where you live .
In general, you’ll pay more for a traditional, in-person nursing program than one that’s administered online. Private colleges tend to be more expensive than public colleges. And if you decide to pursue a public nursing school as an out-of-state student, you’ll likely pay much more.
Here’s an idea of how much each nursing degree can cost.
|Type of nursing degree||
|Associate degree in nursing||$6,000 to $20,000|
|Bachelor’s degree in nursing||$40,000 to $80,000|
|Master’s degree in nursing||$35,000 to $70,000|
|Doctor of Nursing Practice||
$40,000 to $70,000
Additional costs of nursing school
In addition to school tuition, you’ll probably have to pay other costs to attend nursing school.
- Uniforms and accessories: Since many nursing programs include hands-on components like clinicals, you may need to cover the cost of scrubs and accessories like shoes, a stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff.
- Books: You’ll also be required to pay for textbooks, which can be traditional books or eBooks. You may be able to save some money by buying used textbooks or renting them.
- Transportation: Depending on your program, you’ll have to factor in the costs of traveling to and from class as well as clinicals or co-ops. These may include gas, tolls, parking, and vehicle maintenance.
- School fees: While fees vary from school to school, they may include application fees, acceptance fees, distance learning fees, non-resident fees, and technology fees.
- Licensure fees: If you earn an RN or APN, you’ll need to pursue licensure and pay a fee that will depend on your state.
Additional costs for working people
If you’re already in the workforce but wish to switch to a career in nursing, you may be on the hook for additional costs. Here are a couple to consider.
- Child care: Depending on whether you have children and how old they are, you’ll need to pay for child care while you attend class or participate in clinicals or other opportunities that require you to leave home.
- Temporary loss of income: If you have to put your current career on pause or work fewer hours so you can earn your nursing degree, don’t forget to consider the temporary loss of income. This is particularly important if you’re the sole or primary breadwinner and need to cover your living expenses.
What nursing school loans are available?
After maxing out other financial aid options, many students take out student loans to pay for college. Federal student loans and private student loans can be a good way for you to fund nursing school.
Credible makes it easy to learn more about private student loans.
Which student loans are best for you will depend on many factors, including your current and future financial situations, your credit, and how much you need to borrow.
Federal student loans for nursing school
- Federal subsidized and unsubsidized student loans: Subsidized and unsubsidized student loans are similar except subsidized loans require you to demonstrate financial need. For subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest on the loan while you’re in school and for six months after you leave school, and they come with income driven repayment plans. But you can’t qualify for them unless your FAFSA shows you have a financial need. You don’t have to demonstrate financial need to qualify for unsubsidized student loans, but you’re responsible for paying all the interest on the loans.
- Federal PLUS loans for graduate students: Federal PLUS loans are designed to help graduate or professional students pay for their education. Even though they offer flexible repayment plans as well as forbearance and deferment options, you must pay a loan fee and may face a higher interest rate than you would with a private student loan.
- PLUS loans for Parents: PLUS loans can help parents of dependent undergraduate students pay for school. With this type of loan, parents can borrow as much as they need and lock in a fixed interest rate. But they’ll have to pass a credit check, pay an origination fee, and start repaying the loan right after their child graduates from nursing school.
- Health Resources and Services Administration Nursing Student Loans: Health Resources and Services Administration loans may also help cover the cost of nursing school, provided you meet the loan’s qualifications. You must attend a public school or education institution, and be pursuing an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree full time..
Private student loans for nursing school
You should always exhaust federal student loan options before taking out private student loans. If you need them, private student loans can help cover gaps in your education funding. Here are Credible partner lenders that you can consider for nursing school student loans — all offer both fixed- and variable-rate loans.
|Lender||Loan amounts||Loan terms||Minimum credit score||Fees||May be good for|
|Ascent||$2,001 to $400,000||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, and 20 years||600||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers without a cosigner|
|Citizens Bank||$10,000 to $750,000||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||Not disclosed||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers who bank with Citizens|
|CollegeAve||$5,000 to $300,000||5 to 20 years||Not disclosed||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers who need flexible loan terms|
|EDvestinU||$7,500 to $200,000||5, 10, 15, and 20 years||700||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers with good credit|
|INvestEd||$5,000 to $250,000||5, 10, 15, and 20 years||670||Late fees and returned payment fees||Borrowers who may need forbearance benefits|
|MEFA||$10,000 up to the total amount||7, 10, and 15 years||670||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers who attended a public or nonprofit college|
|Sallie Mae||$1,000 up to cost of attendance||5 to 15 years||Not disclosed||No application, origination, or disbursement fees||Borrowers who are part-time, undergraduate students|
You can compare rates from these lenders and check your prequalified rates using Credible.
Other ways to pay for nursing school
When you’re pondering how you’ll pay for college, student loans will likely come to mind first. This is particularly true if you’re an adult with an established career. But before you take on student loan debt, try these other sources.
- Nursing scholarships: Offered by colleges or organizations, nursing scholarships are usually based on merit. You don’t have to pay back the money you receive.
- Nursing grants: Grants are similar to scholarships in that you won’t have to repay them, but they’re typically need-based.
- Employer tuition assistance: Your employer may cover all of or part of your nursing school. This is more likely if you’re already in the health care or nursing field and wish to advance in your career.
- Work study: Work study is a federal program that provides part-time, on-campus jobs for college students. If you’re eligible, you can use the money you earn to pay for nursing school.
About the author: Anna Baluch is a personal finance freelance writer with years of experience writing for well-known media outlets in the business and personal finance space. Her work can be found on media outlets like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree, Credit Karma, Nav, and RateGenius. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Northwood University and an MBA from Roosevelt University.