The biggest factor in how much your nursing degree will cost is which education path you pursue: a three-year diploma program, two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) program, or four-year bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) program.
Two-year colleges might charge about $75 per nursing credit, while private universities might charge up to $500 per credit. For a four-year program, the difference between public school nursing tuition and private school nursing tuition can be as much as $75,000.
So consider your nursing education path carefully: An ADN or diploma will be less expensive nursing degree option, but they may not afford the same opportunities for advancement and specialization that can be gained with a BSN. On the other hand, you can always start working with a diploma or an ADN and later take advantage of tuition assistance to cover the costs of an RN-to-BSN program.
Additional Nursing Degree Costs
Aside from nursing tuition, when it comes to figuring out how much your nursing degree will cost, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of books, uniforms, nursing supplies, lab fees, and any other administrative fees into your education budget.
Medical textbooks may cost between $1,000 to $3,000, which is higher than the cost of books in many other disciplines. Uniforms and work shoes typically cost between $150 and $300. Lab fees for nursing school (about $1,700 per term) are often higher than they are for other programs because of the cost of specialized supplies and equipment. And be sure to inquire about any additional registration, acceptance, or enrollment fees for nursing school, which can range from $75 to $600. Depending on the school, these fees may be credited toward your nursing tuition.
Financial Assistance for a Nursing Degree
If these numbers sound steep, rest assured that a wide range of nursing financial assistance is available. Some RNs choose to work for hospitals or long-term care facilities that will reimburse some or all of their nursing tuition. In exchange, the RN must work for the organization for a predetermined period of time, sometimes only six months.
Plus, a variety of nursing scholarships are available for students who plan to practice in a particular specialty (e.g., critical care, neonatal). Check with the professional associations for your specialty to find out if they offer nursing scholarships. Nursing scholarships are also available for male students, students of various nationalities, residents of certain states, and many more.
If you do have to take out loans to fund your education, don’t worry about drowning in debt. Not only can you recover that money with your future salary, you may also be eligible for nursing loan forgiveness. The Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), an $8 million government-sponsored program, will repay 60 percent of the nursing loan balance for 100 RNs. If you win this award, you must work full time for two years at a critical shortage facility. You may even be eligible to work a third year and receive an additional 25 percent off your nursing loan balance.
Nursing degree costs may be high, but once you begin your career, you’ll discover that the investment you made was exceedingly worthwhile.