Becoming a nurse is a noble goal, but financing a nursing education may be difficult for some people. There are many sources of financial aid for nursing students, including general scholarships, nursing-specific grants, and student loans. Since nurses are often in great demand, they may also be eligible for loan forgiveness programs after graduating from nursing school and working in the field.
General scholarships are open to students of every discipline, and can be a good source of financial aid for nursing students. These scholarships may include essay or video competitions, awards based on financial need, ethnic background, or individual merit, and even simple scholarship sweepstakes based on random chance. The Internet is one of the best resources for general scholarship information; there are many websites that allow users to create a personal profile that will match scholarship opportunities to personal interests, educational background, and other criteria. Though it may be difficult to fund an entire education through general scholarships, it can certainly help provide some financial aid for nursing programs.
Nursing-specific grants and scholarships are only available for students pursuing a degree in nursing. These may be offered by specific schools, nursing associations or foundations, and public health organizations. Internal school grants are often based on a combination of financial need and individual merit, and may cover tuition and school expenses only. External scholarships may cover living expenses as well as tuition, and can be based on a broad range of personal criteria. A school's financial aid office can be an excellent resource for specific scholarships available only to nursing students.
Student loans are typically offered by the government, and may pay for tuition, books, and living expenses. These awards are usually based on financial need and the tuition costs of specific schools, and may require re-application each year. In the United States, students can apply for government aid each year by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will require disclosure of personal and financial information. Though loans will require repayment, often within months of graduation, they can be an effective method of financial aid for nursing students.
Many regions have a constant shortage of nurses and healthcare workers. In some areas, financial aid for nursing students may be available in the form of free tuition or student loan forgiveness, as an incentive to increase the available pool of nurses. Since loan forgiveness and tuition assistance programs vary by region, it may be beneficial to check with the local health or education department to find out about available programs in a specific area. Some nurses may be able to repay loans in just a few years by participating in government loan forgiveness initiatives.