If nursing has piqued your interest, here are some ways to approach the career and afford the cost of school.
Two Year Associate Degrees
For students, including high school grads, entering a two-year associate program in nursing may be one of the most affordable ways to get your start. At Sandhill Community College in Pinehurst, N.C., full-time in-state tuition costs a little more than $1,300 a year. Out-of-state tuition runs about $7,500 a year. After that, you qualify to take the NCLEX exam to become a licensed registered nurse. But know that a two-year degree may limit your ability to get promoted later on. “Without a bachelor’s degree you will not have career mobility,” says Diana Mason, editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Nursing. “Your eye needs to be on getting that bachelor’s degree at a minimum."
To get an advanced degree, sometimes you need look no further than where you are currently employed to receive financial help. For example, if you’re employed by the Veterans Health Administration, check out its scholarship titled the National Nursing Education Initiative available to permanent full- and part-time Veterans Affairs nurses who wish to get a bachelor’s or post-grad degree. (You need to have been working for at least one year to qualify for the scholarship.)
You can also seek education programs that have partnerships with area hospitals that may reimburse your tuition if you agree to work there upon graduation. The Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford has an alliance with the Sacred Heart University in Fairfield and Goodwin College in East Hartford. There is a tuition reimbursement for students, but they must commit to working at Saint Francis for at least six months after graduating.
Duke University’s Watt School of Nursing and Duke University Health Systems will reimburse tuition, about $25,000 for the two-year program, if the student agrees to work for a period of three years at Durham Regional Hospital or Duke Health Raleigh Hospital upon obtaining his or her degree. Eligibility is determined when students are accepted into the nursing program.