Affording a Nursing Education: Scholarships, Grants, and Aid

LPN to RN bridge programs allow nurses to pursue better education without repeating classes that they’ve already taken. There are both scholarships and grants available to qualifying nurses who choose to enter these programs, and other financial aid options also exist to allow students in need to go back to school.

LPN to RN Scholarships

Scholarships are forms of financial aid typically based on merit (talent, skills, grades, etc.), and some are also based on other factors, such as religion, ethnicity, financial status, and so forth. You can find scholarship applications specifically for nurses or scholarship applications for any type of qualifying student participating in an accredited program. Some of the organizations that have provided scholarships for nurses in the past include the following:

  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses
  • Neuroscience Nursing Foundation
  • Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • Health Occupations Students of America
  • Alpha Tau Delta
  • National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations

In some cases, you can also find nursing scholarships directly from colleges.

LPN to RN Grants

Unlike scholarships, grants are usually given based on financial need, rather than just merit. They are offered by schools and private organizations to students who may not otherwise be able to pursue advanced education. Grants are also available to qualifying nursing students from the Department of Health and Human Services and some of the other organizations that may have nursing grants available include the Emergency Nurses Foundation Association and the Gerontological Society of America.

Other Forms of Financial Aid for Nurses

Facilities across the United States are in dire need of nurses, especially nurses with advanced education. To help attract workers, many employers offer tuition assistance programs, where you can get advanced education in exchange for working at the facility for a certain number of years. Student loans are available for students who qualify. Luckily, the government provides loan forgiveness programs for some nurses, if you’re willing to work in areas where need is especially high and meet other prerequisites, so this is also an option if you need money for school. The chart below shows the percentage of all financial aid that was occupied by different types, such as loans and grants, between 1998-2008.

Ask The Government For Money!

The United States government awards students billions of dollars in financial aid every year. There are many ways to get educational funding from the government. Some of the biggest governmental student funding opportunities are the following.

  • Stafford and Perkins Loans: Low interest loans that must be paid back after graduation, and can be repaid on a flexible schedule depending on your income and wealth.
  • Hope and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits: Allowances from the IRS that save students money on income tax as long as they are in school.
  • Pell Grants: Money that does not need to be repaid, and is usually awarded to students who can demonstrate the most significant financial need. These come in various amounts, and can reach around $5,000 per year, and may only be renewed if certain academic expectations, such as good grades and a minimum number of credits per semester, are met.
  • The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill: Money that is reserved for military servicemembers and their families, which can be redeemed during or after a tour of duty. This money can be used to take individual classes online, or to pay for a whole degree or even for certification programs and other educational pursuits. The amount of money depends on the length of the student’s military service and other factors.

Other Ways to Pay for an LPN to RN Program

There are a couple of ways to get financial assistance for an LPN to RN program that aren’t quite the same is financial aid, because they involve working or volunteering for a period of time, or making other promises about what you will do after you finish the program. These are:

  • National Health Service Corps: This program rewards health workers who are willing to work in underserved areas with scholarships and loans to help pay for their education in a health related field. In exchange for their service in an underserved locale, NHSC participants can earn money towards educational loans they have already taken out, or towards future education bills.
  • Americorps: This program is not health care specific, but offers a way for volunteers to earn money for school by contributing their time and work to diverse projects across the country. Americorps terms usually last about 11 months, and volunteers can earn several thousand dollars towards tuition fees and other educational costs.

Since you’re looking into courses that can help you move from being an LPN to an RN, it seems likely that you already have a job in healthcare. This is a great position to be in if you want to upgrade your education. Many employers, especially in nursing, have incentive programs or assistance available for their employees who want to go back to college. They may offer a certain amount of loan repayment assistance or a limited number of courses that you can take on their tab, which can take a big chunk out of your personal expenses for college. Ask your employer about their financial aid offerings for employees who want more education. You might have to commit to working for them during and after your schooling, but having a job while you’re in school can really ease your mind about the financial burden that college usually represents.

Credit Hours and Accelerated Courses for LPN to RN Candidates

The most expensive part of any LPN to RN program is likely to be tuition expenses. The cost of higher education has been rising across the board in every discipline, and the more credit hours that you take, the more expensive your degree will be. Testing out of courses or getting credit for previous work experience, or even just transferring credits from a previous school you have attended, can all be useful tactics for minimizing the financial pain of going back to college. You may need to meet certain requirements to even be accepted into an LPN to RN bridge program, such as:

  • Minimum ACT or SAT scores, which may vary depending on the program you are applying to.
  • Proof of high school graduation, and possibly a minimum GPA requirement.
  • Pass an admissions test.

Further Advancement for RNs

LPNs have a lot of room for career growth, and the doorway to much of that growth is through becoming an RN. From there, it is possible to become an advanced practice nurse or nurse practitioner, and take on a much more specific clientele of your choosing. Some nurse practitioners provide primary care, and many choose a specialty such as gynecological nursing or pediatrics.

Growth can come in a few forms for a nursing career. It is possible to continue going back to school for higher degrees until you have a Doctorate in Nursing Science (DNS), which is the highest degree available in the field, and will qualify you for nearly any nursing job, as long as you have work experience too. Another path is to become an RN and eventually an advanced practice RN and look for a leadership or administrative position at a medical facility. This might mean doing less direct care and more managerial tasks, though it is unlikely that you would ever transition completely away from working with patients.

Content of a Good LPN to RN Bridge Program

LPN to RN programs are meant to offer a slight boost in skills and qualifications to nurses who want more of a challenge and the ability to earn more money in their careers. To this end, a good program should focus on certain types of skills that are necessary for taking higher level nursing positions, such as:

  • Leadership Skills:Moving up the ladder as a nurse often means taking on more leadership responsibilities, so learning how to lead in a nursing context should be a major component of an LPN to RN program.
  • A Medical Specialty: Nurses who are experts in working with children, or cancer patients, or administering anesthesia, will find themselves more employable than those with broad, general skills. Pursuing a niche expertise is a great career move.
  • Nursing Innovations: If you’re an LPN making the jump to an RN, it has probably been a couple of years since you first studied nursing, and there may be new research that you haven’t caught up on. An LPN to RN bridge program is a great time to get up-to-date on peer-reviewed nursing literature.

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