Becoming a Nurse on a Budget: Money-Saving Strategies and Funding Options to Consider

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Nursing is a very rewarding and satisfying career, with the option to be there and make a real difference to the lives of others on a daily basis. There are many benefits to working as a nurse including high job satisfaction, flexible working hours, high demand for nurses, great career progression and development opportunities, and several new challenges and the opportunity to continue learning new things throughout your career. To become a nurse, however, you’re going to have to invest some money into your education and training.

While nursing is a career option with excellent salaries and a lot of opportunities to progress and earn even more in the future, getting a nursing degree does not come cheap. If you have decided to pursue a future career as a nurse, it is worth learning more about the various strategies that you can take in order to save money on your nursing education, and the funding options that are available for you to apply to.

 

Saving Money on your Nursing Degree:

Getting a BSN could cost you thousands of dollars, but the good news is that with excellent starting salaries and a lot of room for progression, it is definitely a worthwhile investment to make in your future career.

Today, there is an increasing range of options available for those who want to save money on getting a degree in nursing. From studying for your nursing degree online to considering nursing apprenticeships and other alternative routes to take into this career, there are several strategies that you might want to consider taking to enable you to reach your overall career goals at a lower cost to yourself. Some of the best ways to save money on getting qualified as a nurse include:

 

Online Nursing Degree Study:

Studying online is becoming an increasingly popular choice among people who want to pursue a career in nursing. Online study is ideal if you want to change your career to nursing or need an option that is flexible so that you can continue working full-time and earning money while you are getting your BSN.

There are various different online BSN programs to choose from, some of which require you to be online at certain times of the day for classes alongside others that are fully flexible, allowing you to choose when you’d like to study based on your current schedule, work hours, and what works for you.

As a result, the online study has become the ideal choice for aspiring nurses who are looking to facilitate a change from their current career but do not have the means to quit working to dedicate four years to studying for a BSN full-time. However, they can be an ideal degree choice for anybody who wants to save money on commuting to classes and the other associated costs of getting a degree qualification.

 

Online Advanced Nursing Degree Options:

Along with the option to get your BSN online when studying to become a nurse, you can further your nursing career for less with a range of online advanced nursing degree options to consider such as TWU’s FNP degree, which is offered by Texas Womans University to prepare nurses for an advanced career as a family nurse practitioner.

If you are already a registered nurse and are looking for ways to progress your future career on a budget, an online advanced degree could be suitable for you. Not only is there a lower opportunity cost for nurses who are looking to earn an advanced degree for further progression since it’s possible to study online while continuing to work full-time, but their additional flexibility often makes them a popular choice with healthcare employers who may be willing to help with paying for all or some of the tuition costs.

 

Accelerated BSN Programs:

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a different subject and want to change your career to nursing in the future, you may be able to save both time and money by opting for an accelerated BSN program. The ABSN is designed for students who have already achieved a bachelor’s degree in the past and want to build on the knowledge and skills that they already have in order to become a nurse in the future. While it is an ideal choice for anybody who already has a bachelor’s degree in another medical or healthcare subject, it is open to anybody with a bachelor’s degree in any field and will usually take around half the time that you would expect a traditional BSN program to take, meaning reduced tuition fees.

 

Bridging Degree Programs:

If you want to earn your BSN and are already qualified as a licensed practical nurse or have an associate’s degree in nursing, a bridging program can be a faster and cheaper option towards getting the qualifications that you need. Bridging programs are designed to enable professionals who are already working as nurses to level up their qualifications and enjoy further opportunities when it comes to the work roles and salaries that are available to them. Since a bridging program will allow you to build on and expand the knowledge, skills and experience that you have already earned from your previous qualifications and experience that you have gained working as a nurse, it will usually take less time compared to a traditional BSN program – which leads to lower tuition costs and associated costs of studying.

 

Nursing Apprenticeships:

A nursing apprenticeship could be the ideal alternative for you if you want to become a nurse on a budget. Rather than paying to do the program, nursing apprenticeships allow you to learn and get your qualification on the job, ultimately working out to an option where you are being paid to learn rather than the other way around. While there might be some costs involved depending on the apprenticeship provider that you use and you’re unlikely to earn as much as you will when you become a qualified nurse, this is an ideal option for hands-on learners who want to save as much money as possible throughout their journey towards a nursing career.

 

Funding Options for Your Nursing Degree:

If you have decided that a nursing degree is the best option for you, then there are several options to consider when it comes to how you are going to fund your tuition costs. Nursing degree tuition is often several thousand dollars per academic year, so it’s unusual for student nurses to be able to pay the cost out of pocket. Unless you are lucky enough to have a lot of money in savings or relatives who are willing to help you cover the cost of your nursing degree program, chances are that you are going to have to explore some of the most common funding options.

 

Student Loans:

A student loan is one of the most popular ways for funding your nursing degree. There are various student loan providers to choose from and each will offer different products and different interest rates. Some providers will begin charging interest and collecting repayments as soon as you take out the loan while others will freeze this until you have graduated, so it’s worth looking into the different options and finding one that is the ideal choice for you.

If you are already a nurse with a BSN and are considering advancing your career with a master’s program or other advanced nursing degree option, think about whether or not it is worth taking out further student loans to fund your studies. As a nurse who might already be repaying past student loans for your bachelor’s degree program, borrowing further money to fund your advanced degree plans could be challenging. It’s important to understand the potential implications of borrowing further student loans to get your advanced degree qualification. Check with your current student loan provider for refinancing options and more than you might want to take advantage of if you need to borrow further money for advanced study.

 

Scholarships:

One alternative to borrowing money from a student loan for your nursing degree or advanced nursing degree is a scholarship. There are various scholarship options available that you might want to consider applying to. However, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to finding and applying for scholarships since they are often limited and many are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

A scholarship will provide you with funding towards all or some of your tuition fees that do not need to be repaid. You can find scholarships that are available from your college or nursing school, place of employment, local authorities, healthcare companies and much more. Scholarships might be available for nursing students who are in financial difficulties, have earned certain grade levels at high school or in previous degree programs, or who are currently working in certain jobs and require the degree program to further their career.

Scholarships are available for students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, although graduate school scholarships are often less generous in comparison. However, if you are considering getting an advanced nursing degree, even the smallest of scholarship awards can be helpful when it comes to saving money on getting your qualification and furthering your career. Speak to your school about any scholarship opportunities that you might be able to apply for and start your application as soon as possible.

 

Employer Funding:

In the healthcare industry, an increasing number of employers are offering tuition support to student nurses in order to help reduce the nursing shortage across the country and improve the situation by helping to provide more trained nurses. Healthcare employers will often find that investing in employee nursing training is a worthwhile investment to make since it provides them with a higher-educated workforce and makes hiring and promoting from within easier. If you are currently working in healthcare as a caregiver or another care professional and want to get into nursing, your employer might be willing to help you by covering some or all of your tuition costs towards getting your nursing degree.

Advanced nursing degree programs are also open to employer funding. If you are currently working as a nurse, getting an advanced nursing degree such as a master’s degree will not only be beneficial to you but could also help your employer by providing them with a better-trained workforce and making it easier for them to earn rewards such as Magnet status. Today, over 50% of employers in the US now offer some kind of tuition assistance program, so it’s definitely worth speaking to your employer to see if they will be able to help you get your nursing degree.

 

Why Do Employers Offer Tuition Support?

Whether you are working in healthcare and want to become a nurse or are already a registered nurse and want to progress in your career with an advanced nursing degree, this could benefit both you and your employer. Today, more and more employers are encouraging their employees to study and making it possible for them to reach their career goals with tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement programs. Not only is this a worthwhile investment for employers to make towards achieving a better-educated workforce, but employers can also benefit from making tax deductions for tuition reimbursement programs and some states will also offer tax benefits for employers who run such programs. In addition, many employers will require that the employee agrees to commit to working for the company for a certain period of time in return for the financial assistance towards getting their undergraduate or graduate degree. Because of this, offering assistance with nursing program tuition is often worthwhile for healthcare employers who are looking to improve their employee retention rates and save money on hiring.

No matter where you currently are on your journey towards a career in nursing, getting there isn’t always cheap. Thankfully, there are various funding options and money-saving strategies to continue that could help you get the nursing career that you want on a tighter budget.

 

By Maggie Hammond

 

Bio: Maggie Hammond. Proud mama to two little people, and has one too many furry friends. Passionate about alternative medicine, education, the great outdoors, and animal welfare.

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