Becoming a Nurse: Tuition and Financial Aid
Post-secondary education costs have soared in recent years. Some programs are less expensive than others, but many of the larger, more expensive schools have more opportunities for financial aid, which may make their cost comparable to or even less expensive than smaller schools. Regardless of where you attend nursing school, tuition is only part of the cost. Additional costs include room and board, transportation, books and other supplies, and laboratory fees.
Given the cost of education, most people can benefit from financial aid, and there are many grants, loans, scholarships, and loan forgiveness programs available to hard-working students.
Online, you can find numerous resources for college preparation, including planning for and obtaining financial aid, which has been modified here with a nursing touch.
High school juniors should look into: tuition costs; admission, and financial aid application deadlines; state, federal, and school aid programs based on both need and merit; unique aid opportunities (community service awards, children of veterans awards, first-generation college student awards, etc.); and the annual cost increase of college expenses. Fall is the time to take the PSAT, attend financial aid nights, and start looking for scholarships. In winter, prep for the SAT or ACT and build a portfolio (awards, report cards, honors, evidence of hospital volunteer activities, newspaper clippings—whatever sets you apart from other students). Come spring, talk to the college financial aid counselor and ask for an early estimate, and take the SAT or ACT. When summer rolls around, get to work, literally. Make money and put it aside for your nursing program incidentals.
High school seniors should check out: the graduation debt burden at each of their potential nursing programs; how long it takes to graduate and whether the financial aid will be similar each year; availability of financial aid for study abroad. They and their parent(s) should also obtain a personal identification number (PIN) for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) processing. In the fall, compare and contrast nursing program requirements for application materials and financial aid forms. Some only require the FAFSA; others the PROFILE, a form administered by the College Scholarship Service (CSS), the financial division of the College Board. Many private colleges and universities require the CSS PROFILE to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, including the institution's own aid. Remember to be attentive to all application deadlines, retake the SAT or ACT if you're not satisfied with your scores, and spend some more time at financial aid nights. Warm up the winter by filing your FAFSA online; this is your gateway to aid at schools nationwide. Proof and correct your Student Aid Report (SAR) and organize your financial aid award letters to ease the job of comparing and contrasting colleges. Come spring, assess your situation; if you didn't get aid at your school of choice, visit and appeal to them in person. They may take a second look. Make your decision; May 1 is the deadline for final decisions at most schools.
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