September 26, 2021

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How much is nursing school?

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Although nursing school can be pricey, you can pay for it using a variety of funding options, including student loans, scholarships and grants. (iStock)

Nursing is an in-demand career field that can offer you the ability to earn a high salary. The job outlook for registered nurses is expected to grow 7% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But to enjoy the benefits of a nursing career, you’ll likely have to pay a lot of money for nursing school. Although the cost of college can be expensive for all career fields, health care careers tend to cost more. Let’s discuss how much nursing school might cost you and what options you have to pay for it.

How much is nursing school?

The cost of nursing school depends on multiple factors, including the type of nursing degree you’re pursuing, the college you choose and the interest rate on your student loan (if you take one out). Since these costs vary, how much you’ll pay for nursing school will depend on your unique circumstances and choices.

That said, you can get an idea of how much it’ll cost by researching the average costs of nursing degrees. For example, the least expensive nursing degree ranges from $6,000 to $20,000 per year, while the most expensive one ranges from $35,000 to $100,000, according to NurseJournal.

With nursing school likely to cost tens of thousands of dollars, you may need to take out student loans to help fund your nursing degree. Credible makes it easy to research private student lenders.

What nursing degrees are available?

Here are four of the most common types of nursing degree programs. 

  • Associate degree in nursing: A two year-program, this degree offers the quickest path to becoming a registered nurse. The average cost of public school tuition for the program ranges from $6,000 to $20,000.
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing: This four-year program has total tuition costs that usually range from $40,000 to $100,000. As a reward for additional years of schooling and more money spent on tuition, you may earn a higher salary as a registered nurse.
  • Master’s degree in nursing: This program typically lasts one to two years. Although the program is shorter than the bachelor’s program, its price is similar — the cost of tuition ranges from $35,000 to $100,000.
  • Doctor of nursing practice: The cost of tuition for this advanced nursing degree ranges from $40,000 to $70,000. The length of time it’ll take you to complete the program ranges from two to three years if you already have a master’s degree in nursing. If you have a BSN in nursing, it can take up to five years to complete the program.

Keep in mind that if you want to reach the highest possible levels in a nursing career, you’ll likely need multiple degrees. For example, you must have a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s, and a master’s to pursue a doctorate. It’s easy to see how a career in nursing can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over your college career.

Other costs of nursing school

Although tuition will likely be your biggest expense when attending nursing school, it’s not the only expense you’ll have. Here are some other school-related expenses you should consider.

  • Uniforms and accessories: While you’re in nursing school, you’ll likely have to pay for scrubs, a stethoscope or other lab supplies.
  • Books: You’ll likely have to pay for textbooks for your nursing courses. By the time you complete your nursing program, the price of your textbooks could add up to thousands of dollars.
  • Transportation: If you live off campus and have to commute, you’ll have to add your time spent traveling, plus the cost of gas.
  • School fees: On top of your tuition, some nursing schools may charge you a technology fee, building fee or some other miscellaneous fee.
  • Child care: If you have children and need to hire a babysitter so you can attend class, you’ll have to factor this cost in as well.
  • Temporary loss of income: If you leave your job to attend nursing school full-time, you’ll have to factor in the opportunity cost of quitting.
  • NCLEX exam: To become a registered nurse, you have to pass the NCLEX exam — the registration fee for the exam is $200.

Can I get student loans for nursing school?

The majority of college students take out student loans to help pay for college. For example, more than half of college students younger than 30 took out student loans in 2019, according to a 2020 Federal Reserve economic report. If you’re looking for a way to cover the cost of nursing school, using a federal or private student loan can be a good way to pay for it.

Federal student loans for nursing school

You should always exhaust your federal student loan options first before exploring private student loans. Federal student loans are generally easier to get, have no cosigner requirement and have more flexible repayment options.

  • Federal subsidized and unsubsidized student loans: Undergraduates who meet certain financial needs requirements can apply for subsidized loans, and have the federal government pay their interest while they’re in school and for up to six months after they leave school. While unsubsidized loans are available to both undergraduates and graduates, regardless of their financial need, you’ll be responsible for all the interest with this type of federal student loan. The upside to these loans is that neither requires a credit check, so you won’t need a cosigner. But a major downside is that both options come with loan limits, and the amount of your loan may not be enough to cover nursing school.
  • Federal PLUS loans (grad and parent): These federal loans are offered to graduate students and parents of undergraduates. 
  • Health Resources and Service Administration Loans: The U.S. Health and Service Administration offers long-term, low-interest Nursing Student Loans to full-time students who are pursuing an associate, baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing. However, to be eligible for this loan program, the institution where you’re enrolled must participate in the program. Also, these loans aren’t directly funded by the federal government so they don’t qualify for federal benefits.

You can compare rates from multiple private student loan lenders through Credible.

Private student loans for nursing school

If you’ve exhausted your federal student loan options and are facing a funding gap, private student loans can be a good solution.  Here are some Credible partner lenders that are good for nursing school student loans.

Ascent

If you don’t have a cosigner, have a credit score that’s at least 600 and want to avoid application, origination and disbursement fees, Ascent might be a good choice.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $200,000
  • Loan terms: Five, seven, 10, 12, 15 or 20 years
  • Minimum credit score: 600
  • Fees: No application, origination or disbursement fees

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers large loan amounts to borrowers who have good credit; if your credit score or your cosigner’s is 720 or higher, it could be a solid option.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $350,000
  • Loan terms: Five, 10 or 15 years
  • Minimum credit score: 720
  • Fees: No application, origination or disbursement fees

CollegeAve

CollegeAve offers interest-only payment, academic deferment and forbearance, making it a good choice if you’re looking for flexible loan repayment options.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: Five to 15 years
  • Minimum credit score: Not disclosed
  • Fees: No application, origination or disbursement fees

EdvestinU

This lender requires an annual income of $30,000 and a minimum credit score of 750; if you or a cosigner meet those requirements, EdvestinU might be a good fit.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $200,000
  • Loan terms: Seven, 10 or 15 years
  • Minimum credit score: 750
  • Fees: No application, origination or disbursement fees

InvestED

InvestED might be a good fit if you live in Indiana or want to move there for nursing school.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,001 up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: Five, 10 or 15 years 
  • Minimum credit score: 670
  • Fees: Late fees and returned payment fees

MEFA

If you think you’ll need extra time to repay your loan, MEFA allows payment deferral for up to 60 months. And you can borrow up to the cost of attendance. 

  • Rates: Fixed 
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 10 or 15 years
  • Minimum credit score: 670
  • Fees: Late fees and returned payment fees; no application, origination or disbursement fees

Sallie Mae

Since Sallie Mae offers student loans to part-time undergraduates, it’s an option worth exploring if you’re thinking about enrolling in a part-time undergraduate program.

  • Rates: Fixed and variable
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: Five to 15 years (undergraduate)
  • Minimum credit score: Not disclosed
  • Fees: No application, origination or disbursement fees

Other ways to pay for nursing school

Although taking out a student loan can be a good option to pay for nursing school, it isn’t your only option. Here are some additional ways you can pay for nursing school.

  • Nursing scholarships: Some schools, organizations and individuals offer merit-based needs-based scholarships. If you’re offered a scholarship, it’s considered a gift and doesn’t have to be repaid.
  • Nursing grants: Grants are usually awarded to students who have financial needs. Like scholarships, the money you receive is considered a gift and doesn’t have to be repaid.
  • Employee tuition assistance: Some employers may offer to reimburse you for some or all your tuition. This tuition assistance is tax-free, as long as the contribution is $5,250 or less. Anything over that amount will be considered taxable income.
  • Work study: Work study is a federal program that offers part-time jobs on and off campus to undergraduate, graduate and professional students who qualify based on financial need. 

If you’re looking for private student loans for nursing school, Credible makes it easy to compare rates from multiple lenders.