When you become an LPN (licensed practical nurse), you become responsible for providing hands-on health care to people who really need your help. It’s a way of changing the world, one patient at a time. Bonus: the length and cost of LPN school is unbelievably low.

LPN Training Programs
LPN training programs last one to one-and-a-half years and are offered by community colleges, vocational technical schools, high school, hospitals, and colleges and universities. In order to become licensed to practice, you must complete a state-approved LPN training program. Contact your state’s board of nursing for a list of approved programs. An LPN program will lead to a diploma or certificate of completion.

Many approved programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. More than 150 LPN programs have been accredited by NLNAC; find yours here.

LPN School Costs
The average cost of LPN school hovers around the $10,000 area, all fees included. But in major cities, the cost of LPN school can be as high as $25,000, not including the cost of books and other supplies. Private colleges and universities with fast-track programs tend to have the highest LPN tuition.

Community colleges usually offer the best deal – in-county residents may pay as little as $4,000 for the year, while out-of-county students pay double that, and out-of-staters pay double what out-of-county students pay. State schools that receive government subsidies tend to have the most affordable LPN tuition. It’s a persuasive argument for staying close to home to get your LPN certificate.

Additional LPN School Costs
Additional costs beyond LPN tuition may include the cost of books, uniforms, books, liability insurance, background checks, medical exams, study guides, travel, and medical equipment like a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff. Books for an LPN program cost around $1,000, though that figure can be higher or lower depending on where you buy your books and in what condition you buy them.

Other costs may include technology, entrance exam, and graduation and licensing fees. You also need to factor in the $200 examination fee for National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), which you’re required to pass in order to become licensed to practice.  

Counting the Cost of LPN School
Whether you choose a program with high or low LPN tuition, be sure to find out the school’s NCLEX pass rate before you enroll. All the money you’ll save at an inexpensive school will be wasted if you don’t learn enough to pass the NCLEX.

And if you’re deciding whether to become an LPN or an RN, remember that the costs of LPN school are often lower than the costs of RN school, especially since the time to completion is shorter. If you want to become an RN later on, you can always enroll in an LPN-to-RN training program – potentially on your employer’s dime.

When you’re ready to get on the fast track to an in-demand health care career, start training to become an LPN. The cost of LPN school is comparatively low, but the rewards are unequivocally high.

If you love animals (and their owners), you could be a purrfect candidate to study veterinary medicine. But just like at any other medical school, veterinary school costs can be high.  

Become a Veterinarian
In order to become a veterinarian, you’ll need to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine (DVM). Many DVM programs do not require a bachelor’s degree, but all require a specified number of undergraduate credits (usually between 45 and 90) for entrance. Since admission to veterinary medical school is so competitive – only about one in three applicants was accepted in 2007 – most candidates do have a bachelor’s degree.

After you earn your DVM, you’ll need to obtain a license before you can practice veterinary medicine. Graduation from a veterinary school that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education is a prerequisite for licensure in most states. There are 28 AVMA-accredited veterinary schools in 26 states in the U.S. (two in California and in Alabama). Visit the American Association of Veterinary State Boards to learn about your state’s requirements for licensure

Veterinary School Costs
According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), in 2006-2007, average annual veterinary school tuition was $15,676 for first-year state residents and $28,861 for first-year nonresidents (out-of-state and international students). If you live in one of the 24 states that doesn’t have an accredited veterinary school (e.g., Arizona, Connecticut, and New Jersey), you will have to pay nonresident veterinary school tuition and fees. However, some schools have established contracts with other states to offer a specified number of “resident” positions for admission. Find out about accredited veterinary schools in your state.

Of course, there’s more to consider when it comes to the cost of veterinary school. In 2006-2007, average annual school fees were $3,482 for residents and $4,452 for nonresidents. Average transportation costs were $1,487 for residents and $1,512 for nonresidents, and miscellaneous expenses averaged $1,306 for residents and $3,042 for nonresidents. Some veterinary school costs are the same for residents and nonresidents: room and board averages $8,964; books and equipment, $2,043; health insurance, $1,304; and personal expenses, $2,653.

As you can see, it’s critical to budget for expenses beyond veterinary school tuition – total annual expenses averaged $36,914 for residents and $52,831 for nonresidents. Total expenses for a four-year DVM program would therefore average $147,656 for residents and $211,324 for nonresidents.

Offsetting the Cost of Veterinary School
Fortunately, veterinary school scholarships are available to qualified students. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation, AAVMC, and other national organizations offer veterinary school scholarships based on criteria such as academic excellence and financial need. School and state-specific scholarships are also available, as are opportunities through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Plus, your salary will help you recover from the aftermath of veterinary school tuition in no time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average starting veterinarian salaries are between $40,000 and $65,000, depending on the type of practice. In 2008, median annual earnings of more established veterinarians were $79,050.

Veterinary school tuition may be pricey, but consider the payoff – an in-demand, well-paying career in creature care.

If you’re a registered nurse (RN) who wants to advance in your career and provide a high level of individualized care, start training to become a nurse practitioner. Want to know how much nurse practitioner school costs will set you back? Find out here.

Nurse Practitioner Programs
First, understand that most states require nurse practitioners to hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. To gain entrance to an MSN degree program for this advanced practice specialty, you’ll need a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) and/or at least one or two years of clinical RN experience. If you have a diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN), you can enroll in a BSN-to-MSN program.

Once you complete an MSN degree, you may also choose to enroll in a post-graduate certificate program that will enable you to specialize in a particular area of nurse practitioner care (e.g., acute care, neonatal, women’s health, etc.).

Nurse Practitioner School Costs
Let’s break those degree program requirements into dollars and cents. A nurse practitioner master’s degree consists of about two years of full-time study, which translates into 40 to 60 credits. Post-graduate certificate programs consist of about 40 credits and charge tuition comparable to MSN degree costs.

Nurse practitioner tuition at a state university averages about $200 per credit for state residents and jumps to $500 per credit for out-of-state students. Total nurse practitioner tuition for a 60-credit program would then be $12,000 for in-state students and $30,000 for out-of-state students.

If your heart is set on a private university, be aware that these schools charge as much as $1,000 per credit – amounting to $60,000 for total nurse practitioner tuition.

Nurse Practitioner School Fees
That’s not all. Additional nurse practitioner school fees often include lab, library, student services, activity, and clinical placement fees. Plus, you need to factor liability insurance (on top of regular health insurance) as well as textbooks into your budget for each semester. And nursing textbooks tend to be pricier than liberal arts books.

Remember that you’ll be paying these nurse practitioner school costs on top of your BSN degree tuition. On the other hand, you may have fulfilled some of your MSN degree requirements during the course of your BSN program, in which case you’ll be able to save some money on nurse practitioner tuition.

Nurse Practitioner Financial Aid
Given the never-ending nursing shortage, nurse practitioner financial aid is widely available. Academic nurse practitioner scholarships are usually available through nursing schools and may be based on your standardized test scores and/or undergraduate GPA. Nurse practitioner scholarships based on financial need are available as well. Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners also offer a number of nurse practitioner scholarships.

Employer tuition assistance is another common source of nurse practitioner financial aid. In light of the nationwide demand for skilled nursing care, many employers will bear the brunt of nurse practitioner school costs so that their RNs can put their training to use in their health care organization.

Finding money to pay nurse practitioner school costs can be as simple as talking to your boss or applying for a scholarship online. And the personal and professional fulfillment you’ll experience as a nurse practitioner will make your investment worthwhile.

Three Questions to Ask About Nursing Degrees

Lori Johnston | October 27, 2009

While health care reform is grabbing headlines, health care is one of the more secure job sectors.
Some professionals in hospitals and physicians offices are seizing the moment to earn degrees. If you’re a registered nurse, you may be considering a bachelor’s in nursing, which could lead to promotions or higher-paying jobs. You also could teach future nurses.

And there are plenty of choices for nurses, with more than 700 nursing programs offering degrees at the bachelor’s level, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some are available online.
You’ll join a growing number of students – 145,845 as of 2008 – enrolling in baccalaureate nursing programs, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Here are three questions to ask when considering a nursing degree.

1. What additional skills will I acquire with my BSN?
Students can learn the skills to work in a range of clinical settings and provide comprehensive nursing care to patients and their families. Expect to gain knowledge to make decisions quickly in health care settings, collaborate with other professionals on issues of health and wellness, and develop management skills. Officials at Jacksonville University (FL) also report that a BSN degree can be beneficial for those seeking to enter into high-demand fields such as critical care, cardiology, dermatology, ob/gyn, and oncology.

2. How will earning a BSN impact my career?
It can. Jacksonville University, which offers one of the online bachelor’s of nursing programs, reports that the degree enables nurses to move from the technical level to a professional practice. It cites a 2007 earning survey in RN magazine that found salaries are increased from 50 cents an hour to $3.20 an hour. A nurse with a BSN also could receive a specialty pay differential, the university says.

3. Is a career in teaching possible?
There is a great need for nursing teachers. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found 32,617 qualified applicants in 2008 were not accepted due to factors including the shortage of teachers. The association’s CEO and Executive Director, Geraldine “Polly” Bednash, says: “Increasing enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs is a critical first step to correcting an imbalance in the nursing student population and reversing our nation’s diminishing supply of nurse educators.”

In short, there are many career roads for those with a BSN. Which one will you take?

-Lori Johnston