How to Get Your Nursing Degree on a Tighter Budget

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Nursing is a very rewarding career path that is currently in very high demand due to the shortage of nurses in the US right now. If you decide to work as a nurse, you will be embarking on a career path where you can make a real difference to the lives of others every day. Nurses spend their time at work helping and supporting people who are often going through pain and some of the toughest times of their lives. This is an essential role in the healthcare system and you can easily find work as a nurse no matter where you go since they will be needed wherever there are people who need healthcare. 

However, becoming a registered nurse is not always cheap. Going to college and getting a nursing degree can set you back thousands of dollars, and if you are currently working full-time, you might have to cut back your hours and work less to accommodate studying, too. The good news is that if you want to get into nursing, there are more options than you might realize for saving money. Read on for some tips on how to get your nursing degree on a tighter budget, and why studying online could be the best way to become a nurse. 

Studying Online:

Online study is definitely one of the best ways to get your nursing qualification and spend less at the same time. Although you probably won’t save much in terms of tuition compared to studying at a traditional nursing school campus, the other savings that you can make by being an online student can often be significant. For example, studying online means that you do not have to commute to campus, and you can attend your top nursing school choice such as Wilkes without having to relocate even if you live some distance away. Aside from saving money, some of the main benefits of choosing to study for your nursing degree online include:

  • Range of Programs Available:

Today, online study is becoming more popular than ever before, especially after the COVID19 pandemic which forced many students to study from home and created a demand for distance learning. If you want to become a nurse with an online degree, you will certainly not be dealing with a shortage of programs to choose from as there are various colleges, universities, and nursing schools offering degree programs at all levels. Whether you are just starting out and want to get an associate degree in nursing or a BSN to kick-start your career or are a current nurse looking to advance your career with a master’s degree in nursing or a family nurse practitioner master’s degree, you’ll have plenty to choose from online. 

  • Continue Working:

Continuing working is often a big problem for many people who want to change their career to nursing or are considering becoming a nurse but need to work while they study to afford their expenses. Not everybody is fortunate enough to go to nursing school for four years without having a job to pay their way. Studying online makes it much easier to work and study at the same time since the programs are often very flexible, allowing you to decide when you want to study each day rather than this being set for you. As a result, it’s very possible to get your nursing degree while working a regular 9-5 or any other job as you can simply decide to study when you are not at work. 

  • Fit Around Family:

Another benefit of the flexibility that online nursing degree programs provide is that it’s often much easier for people with families. Not everybody who gets a degree is straight out of high school and lots of nurses earn their degree after having children of their own. Studying online means that you will have more time to spend with your family as you’re not spending time commuting to and from campus daily. There won’t be any set lectures that are clashing with the school run or your kids’ sports days as you can easily schedule your studies around those things and put your family commitments first. 

  • Wider Range of School Options:

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to attend the college that we want but in reality, it’s not always the case. When studying for a traditional degree program you also need to think about relocating if you want to attend a nursing school that is not in your local area. However, the nature of online learning means that it doesn’t really matter where the campus is located as you can access everything that you need to learn online from the comfort of your own home. You can attend a nursing school that’s physically located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. 

  • Employer Support:

In some cases, an online degree may be the better option to choose if you are planning to ask your employer for support while you are a student. If you are currently working in healthcare, it might be sensible to speak to your employer about your plans to become a nurse since they may be willing to help you with tuition and other practical aspects of studying if your qualification is also going to benefit them. Online degree programs will often tend to have more support from employers since they are less disruptive to the workplace, as you can easily fit them around your hours. 

Get an Accelerated BSN:

If you already have a degree in another subject, the good news is that there is an option for getting your BSN for half the price and in half the time. Online accelerated second degree BSN programs are designed for people who already have a degree in a different topic and want to get the qualification that they need to work as a nurse. It is an ideal choice for career changers or people who are already working in healthcare and have some basic knowledge of nursing that they would like to build on to get into the role. Since this degree program will cut out a lot of the introductory stuff and modules that you might have already covered during your first degree program, it gets straight to the point allowing you to qualify as a nurse in half the time. 

Bridge Programs:

If you are already working as a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse with an associate degree in nursing, a bridge program might be an ideal option for you if you want to save money on getting your BSN. These degrees are designed to prepare current nurses for the BSN to improve their career advancement and employment opportunities. Compared to a traditional BSN program, bridge programs such as the ADN-BSN program will often be cheaper since they do not take as long to complete. Similar to the ABSN programs, they will usually be more to the point and condensed as they cut out anything that students will already know due to their past qualifications and experience. 

Explore Your Funding Options:

Funding your degree program is likely to be one of the biggest factors you will consider when getting your nursing degree. If you’re like most students, you probably can’t afford to pay the tuition fees out of your own pocket. The good news is that the high demand for nurses right now has led to more funding options including grants and scholarships for those who are looking to become a nurse but would struggle financially to cover the costs. Some of the main funding options to look into include:

  • Student Loans:

Getting a student loan is one of the most popular ways to pay for a nursing degree. While you will be required to pay the loan back, it’s done in installments, which is often more manageable. You can apply for a specific student loan or consider taking out another type of loan such as a bank loan to pay for tuition. 

  • Financial Aid:

There are various financial aid packages that are designed to help students with the cost of tuition and other associated expenses of going to college. Take some time to research financial aid and find out what you may be eligible for. Students who have a low income, for example, or students who do not get financial support from family will usually be eligible for some kind of financial aid. 

  • Scholarships:

Scholarships are designed to provide nursing students with funding for tuition that will not need to be repaid after graduation. There are various types of scholarships that you can apply for as a nursing student including full or part scholarships. Scholarship programs are offered by a range of different organizations including companies, schools, or even your state council. They are typically based on merit or need. To be in with the best chance of being accepted to a scholarship, it’s important to be proactive in finding suitable options and apply as early as possible. 

  • Employer Funding Support:

If you are currently working in healthcare and becoming a nurse is likely to benefit both you and your employer, you might want to consider the option of applying for employer support with funding. Many healthcare employers need more nurses and may be willing to help you out with tuition as long as you continue to work there as a nurse when you have graduated. Healthcare employers can make tax deductions for tuition reimbursement programs, and some states offer tax benefits to employers that offer tuition support, so it’s always a conversation that’s worth having. 

Save On Textbooks:

When you’re enrolled on a nursing degree, textbooks are often going to be one of the biggest ongoing expenses. Textbooks do not often come cheap and you’re probably going to be required to buy at least a few of them throughout studying for your BSN. Thankfully, there are several things that you can do to reduce the cost of buying textbooks. Along with borrowing as many books as you can from the library wherever possible instead of buying them, it’s worth considering if you can find any of the textbooks that you need as eBooks rather than paper books since these will often be cheaper. Buying your textbooks second-hand is also worth considering if your school uses the same books from the previous year, as there are likely to be second, third, and fourth year students with textbooks from the year before that they no longer need and are willing to sell at a reduced rate. 

Find Student Discounts:

When you’re studying for a nursing degree, you’ll likely be eligible for a student discount in many different places which can help with reducing the cost of buying some of the things that you will need to complete your education. A laptop or computer, for example, will usually be required for completing essays and assignments and will certainly be crucial if you decide to get your nursing degree online. As a nursing student, you will also be expected to gain on-the-job experience through clinical placements, and you may be required to purchase your own uniform for this. When you need to buy scrubs and equipment for your clinical placements, it’s worth starting early so that you can shop around to find somewhere that offers a good student discount. Whenever you buy equipment or clothing that you need for your nursing degree, it’s always a better idea to invest a little more in good quality as this will likely work out cheaper when you’ve got things that are going to last. 

Today, there are many great reasons to become a nurse, including high demand for nurses and plenty of career advancement and progression options to consider. However, with tuition fees and student debt at an all-time high, the cost of going to nursing school is becoming a bigger concern for many. While attending nursing school is almost always going to cost you something, keep these tips in mind to save money – whether that’s small savings that add up, or significant tuition savings.

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