Last year on the blog, we discussed the financial aid process for Utica nursing students. Today, we want to take a step back and review the bigger picture of paying for nursing school. There are a variety of options available, but like water and vinegar, some of them won’t mix.
When deciding how you’ll pay for nursing school, make sure you account for these three issues:
1. Scholarships for nursing students
Remember when you were in high school and your guidance counselor pestered you about scholarships? You may be older now, but free money is still the smartest way to pay for your degree.
If the process sounds overwhelming, start small. Research organizations close to home that might offer scholarships to area residents, including businesses, nonprofit and faith-based groups and state agencies. If you’re already employed in the healthcare field, your employer may have programs in place to help you with tuition. (More on employment in a minute.) Your best bet, though, is the Internet. Not sure where to look? The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers undergraduate resources and information on student scholarship programs on their website, and Find Nursing Schools maintains a list of more than 20 scholarships for nursing students. The U.S. Department of Education also has great information on types of scholarships, how to apply and where to find them.
When searching for scholarships, remember to think beyond nursing. You can receive money for any number of reasons including gender, ethnicity, geography, military service and more. And don’t forget, if you live in New York State, you’ll want to fill out a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) form. TAP was designed to offset tuition costs at New York colleges and schools. To be eligible, you must be a New York State resident for 12 consecutive months before your target start term and attend an eligible school or college in New York State. For more information, visit https://www.tap.hesc.ny.gov/totw.
2. Working while in school
Going back to our reference above: When you were in high school, it would have been impossible for you to be a student and work full-time. As an accelerated nursing student, it’s equally different. You’ll have enough on your plate balancing nursing school with family obligations. As you make this decision, we encourage you to review your budget and reduce or eliminate as many line items as possible, especially since the changes will only be needed for a short time.
If you find that your situation requires you to maintain some level of income, start by exploring job opportunities that can be managed on a part-time or flexible basis. For example, patient care technicians provide basic care services in hospitals and healthcare facilities and work varied hours. Plus, it’s an another opportunity to gain hands-on clinical experience. You can also leverage your current career experience by freelancing for previous employers or starting a freelance business that allows you to control your work flow and deadlines.
For more ideas on great jobs for busy nursing students, check out our blog post on finding flexible work as a nursing student in central New York.
3. Undergraduate loans
Once you’ve subtracted scholarships and your out-of-pocket contributions from your nursing school tuition, you’re ready to investigate loans. Utica’s 16-month accelerated nursing program results in a bachelor’s degree, which means you’re still bound to the loan limits of your first undergraduate degree. If you haven’t reached your aggregate limit, you may be eligible to pursue federal Stafford loans to cover part of your balance. You may also investigate loans from private lending institutions.
Before you begin, consider pulling copies of your credit report to verify that lenders are using accurate financial information to determine your eligibility. If it’s not, you can push to have them corrected before starting the application process. Click here to get a free copy of your credit report.