Financial Aid Resources for Nursing Students | Paying for School

Financial Aid Resources

Excuse me, how much did you say that cost again??

Is that per credit hour or for the whole course?

I'm trying to earn a degree - not buy a new house!!!

It doesn't matter where you're thinking about going to school these days, whether it be a local community college, a prestigious Ivy league university, on campus or online, you might want to be sitting down when you hear what it's going to cost per credit hour! Going to school online cuts down some of those costs and certainly saves money on room, board, meal plans, and travel, but you still need a way to pay for tuition. Take a deep breath. Hold it. ok, slowly let it out..... there are ways!

College has always seemed expensive but that has never prevented anyone who had the desire and motivation to get a college education in the past and it won't stop you either. There are literally thousands of scholarships, grants, and other forms of tuition assistance available for online students. Certain healthcare careers even have programs that offer complete student loan repayment if you plan to work in an area of critical need after graduation - so let's take a look at some basic information and then go look at scholarships after that:

Financial Aid For Online Students

1. Your Employer: Check with your employer to find out if they offer tuition assistance plans. Most healthcare employers offer generous tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance programs as employment incentives to new employees, and to help current employees develop professional skills needed by the employer. Typical plans may include:

  • Tuition Reimbursement Plans-- Reimburse employees tuition and required fee expenses up to some maximum amount per year as defined in the employer's particular plan. These plans generally require the employee to achieve a passing grade in each course they wish to be reimbursed for.

  • Tuition Loan Plans-- Loans provided to for regular employees for career development, advancement, or to train for a new career in a needed field. In many cases these loans are interest free and are forgiven if the employee accepts a future work commitment with the employer after graduation.

  • Student Loan Repayment Plans-- Loan repayment plans help ease the financial burden to students after graduation. Recipients must usually be a new graduate of an accredited institution and these plans require an employment commitment.

2. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The federal government uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to compute financial aid need. In order to be eligible for funds from federal student aid programs, some state and school financial aid programs, and need based scholarship programs you will need to complete and submit the FAFSA before the deadline your school has established. You will need to do this every year to continue to remain eligible for Federal Student Aid and most other forms of student aid as well.

3. Your School: Talk with the financial aid officer at the school you plan to attend next. The financial aid officer can tell you if there are any grants, scholarship, or other financial aid programs offered only through that particular school that you may be eligible for. They are also best qualified to help you understand and apply for Federal or State student financial aid programs.

4. Scholarships and Fellowships: Undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships are financial awards based on merit, special qualifications, need, or merit plus need, and do not have to be repaid. Billions of dollars worth of scholarships are available each year from government or private sources. There are scholarships available for just about anyone, even unusual scholarships based on eye color, height, or left handedness among other odd qualifications! The key thing to remember is to search for them and then apply, apply, and apply!

Obtaining scholarship information can be a daunting process, but we've scouted around and located some articles that will help make the process simpler and safer for you.

Scholarships and Grants for Nurses and other Healthcare Professions - We've compiled several pages worth of scholarships specifically for nurses or those in allied health professions and provided you with details about each scholarship, amount of award available and link to the application form whenever possible to simplify your process.

5. Federal Student Aid: More than 50% of all college students in the U.S. receive some form of federal student aid. Federal Student Financial Aid programs provide more than $60 billion a year in grants, loans, and work-study assistance! Programs include:

  • Federal Pell Grants - awarded to part-time and full-time undergraduate students who show financial need.

  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants - are a need based supplement to Pell Grants.

  • Perkins Loans - a federal loan program administered by colleges that is available to both undergraduate and graduate students and based on need and the availability of government funds. Repayment begins nine months after the student leaves school or drops below half-time.

  • Federal Stafford Loans - offers federally guaranteed educational loans to students through financial institutions such as U.S. Bank that participate in the FFEL program or through the federal government in the direct loan program.

  • Federal PLUS Loans - offers federally guaranteed educational loans to parents of students through financial institutions such as U.S. Bank that participate in the FFEL program or through the federal government in the direct loan program.

  • Federal Work Study - offers part-time jobs both on and off campus. The amount that can be earned is based on several factors, including need, other aid received and availability of school funds. Work study funds don't have to be repaid because work is traded for hourly wages.

The Student Guide - Is a comprehensive online resource on student financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. The Student Guide tells you about each program and how to apply for them.

Other Sources of Federal Student Aid: Veterans and their dependents, students training in various medical fields, and persons interested in earning funds in exchange for community service may qualify for other forms of federal student aid.

To be eligible to receive Federal Student Aid, you must

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen

  • Have a valid Social Security number (unless you're from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)

  • Comply with Selective Service registration, if required

  • Have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate or pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ATB) test

  • You must not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan

  • You must have financial need (except for unsubsidized Stafford Loans)

  • You must not have certain drug convictions*

  • You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program at a school that participates in the federal student aid programs

*Past convictions do not automatically make you ineligible for student aid. For more information about Drug-Related Convictions, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-433-3243.

6.State Student Aid Programs: Your state may offer financial aid programs too. You may be eligible for state programs even if you don't qualify for federal student aid programs, so be sure to ask the financial aid officer at your school about this and also contact your state's Higher Education Agency to ask about available financial aid assistance programs, grants, scholarships or other education programs you may qualify for.

7. Private Loans: Students in need of additional money to finance their education may turn to private lenders for alternative loans or to refinance mortgages. Please check with your lenders of choice and be sure to pay close attention to rates and terms before signing any contract.

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