A Guide to Nurse Practitioner Scholarships and Grants

Nurse practitioners can provide primary care in the absence of a doctor, and some can even prescribe medication. These added privileges and responsibilities are the reason that NPs need a master’s degree to be licensed to practice. The added education that it takes to move from being an RN to an NP is costly, but the increased salaries and career flexibility that come with NP status make additional college a worthwhile investment.

Fortunately for nursing students, because new nurses are in such high demand, there are plenty of financial aid options to help pay for nursing education, from certificates and diplomas all the way up to master’s and doctoral degrees. These financial aid options come in a variety of formats. There are grants, loans, scholarships, and loan-forgiveness in exchange for work programs. These can be mixed and matched to get the best deal for the least effort.

Finding Scholarships and Grants

The government offers a number of financial aid programs for students in all areas of study, so this is a great place to start if you’re looking for nurse practitioner scholarships and grants. Most of the government’s financial aid packages are not restricted to nursing students, and are available to all students, and they’re the first place to look when seeking financial aid. The main options are:

  • Loans: The Stafford and Perkins subsidized or unsubsidized loans account for a huge percentage of government education spending. They’re available to almost any student, though the amount will be determined based on financial need, based on information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Flexible repayment options and low interest rates (compared to private bank loans) make these a great deal in moderation, though avoiding debt completely is usually the best choice.
  • Grants: Pell grants are the standard offering for students with demonstrable financial need. They are limited to a maximum of $5,500 per school year, and carry certain stipulations. Students with Pell grants must maintain a certain grade point average, and be enrolled for a certain number of credit hours, to remain eligible.
  • Tax Credits: The Lifetime Learning Credit is a tax write-off that the government offers to students with college related expenses.
  • Loan-Repayment-for-Work Programs: The U.S. has several programs that allow students to volunteer their time in exchange for loan repayment or money to put toward college bills in the future. One such program that is specific to health care workers is the National Health Service Corps, which offers “loan repayment and scholarships to primary care providers and students for serving at NHSC sites in communities with limited access to health care.” Another such program that is available to anyone, not just nursing students, is AmeriCorps, which offers financial aid in exchange for volunteer work in a variety of roles.

The College Board graph below shows the main sources of financial aid for most students, and their fluctuation over the years.

Non-Government Financial Aid Sources

You can also look to private groups, organizations, and companies for funds for college students. Some groups offering financial aid for nurses include the following:

  • Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses Foundation
  • American College of Nurse Practitioners
  • MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Foundation
  • National American Arab Nurses Association
  • National Black Nurses Association
  • National Health Service Corps
  • Saint John Foundation
  • US Medical Supplies

In addition, there are groups that offer scholarships and grants to all types of medical students, so if you’re a nurse, you should look for these forms of financial aid, which do not specify that you must be a nurse practitioner. There are also scholarships and grants available for students regardless of field of study, from organizations both national and local.

Applying for Scholarships and Grants

Once you’ve located a number of scholarships and grants that could help make your education possible, it is time to apply for the money. Each organization has its own procedures, so make sure you read the directions carefully and submit all necessary information in full. If you have to write an application essay, as is common with scholarships, you may want to ask others to read over your submission to help look for typos and places where the essay could be stronger. Of course, make sure you meet deadlines! If you’re even one day late with your application, you’ll likely be ineligible for the award.

As a nurse, keep in mind that you may be eligible for other special kinds of financial aid. Some employers offer to pay for advanced education, so if you’ve been working as an RN or LPN for at least a year, check into your employer’s tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, there may be some federal student loan forgiveness programs that can help you if you work in an area that is in great need of nurses. Both are additional options that can help make a nurse practitioner education possible for you.

Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Outlook

An important consideration when researching ways to pay for education is the salary you expect to earn once you’ve finished school. It may be less of a risk to take on student debt if you are entering an industry with high salaries and good job availability. Nursing is just such an industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26 percent increase in nursing jobs by 2020, and the current median annual wage for RNs is almost $70,000. With those kinds of numbers, it is easy to argue that nursing education is a good investment, even if it requires taking on some debt in the process.

Other Financial Considerations for Nurse Practitioners and Students

Getting a nurse practitioner degree opens up some new career options, even for someone who is already working as a registered nurse. NPs have the option of opening their own practices, which can give them more freedom to control their own salaries and the amount of time they work and the kinds of patients they see. However, operating an independent practice comes with its own headaches. You have to manage your own finances, record keeping, hiring and payroll, and all the other little operations that make a business run smoothly.

NPs can also apply for a license to prescribe medicine, which can increase the scope of their practice and bring in more money. The options for a general nurse practitioner or family nurse practitioner to expand and control the scope of their work are a serious perk of the job.

Specializing as a Nurse Practitioner

Though it is possible to be registered simply as a nurse practitioner or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), many NPs take courses to further specialize their career. The major categories of APRN, and their associated duties, are:

  • Nurse Midwife: Helps mothers maintain their health during pregnancy and track the development of their baby in the womb. Nurse midwives are often present for the births of their clients’ babies.
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: Works with anesthesiologists to administer local and general anesthetic to patients undergoing surgery.
  • Clinical Nursing Specialist: Works directly with patients and also on systemic changes in a facility to maximize efficiency and quality of treatment.
  • Pediatric or Geriatric Nurse Practitioner: Nurses can specialize in working with a particular age group, especially young children or older adults. These demographics tend to experience a consistent batch of health problems around certain age milestones, and a nurse specializing in one of these age groups would study these and practice working through them with patients.

The more a nurse specializes, the fewer jobs in their exact niche will be available, but there will also be fewer qualified candidates to compete for those jobs. Nurses who are recognized as experts in a particular niche earn more money, and tend to have less trouble finding employment. There are also scholarships and grants for nurses in very specific fields, especially if those fields are in growing demand, as most nursing specialties are.

The First Steps Toward Getting Financial Aid

With so many options on the table, it might feel pretty intimidating to have to start looking for financial aid. The best place to start is with the FAFSA form. After that, talk to someone from the financial aid office of your school and ask about options. Once you’ve tapped into all that low-hanging fruit, then it is a good idea to start scouring the internet and asking friends and family for ideas about how to get the most possible money for the next stage of your education.

The Best Online Nurse Practitioners Degrees

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who provides primary and specialty care to patients. A nurse practitioner is responsible for administering both nursing and wider healthcare services; and, they are licensed to prescribe medications. Becoming a nurse practitioner requires the completion of a master's degree program. Below are the most popular colleges offering online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees.

University of Cincinnati MSN: Adult Nursing
MSN: Clinical Nursing
MSN: Family Nursing
University of Cincinnati - The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing provides students 3 options to obtain their Master of Science in Nursing degree: traditional, accelerated, and RN to MSN LINK program. Cincinnati offers both onsite and distance learning specialty tracks, including Adult Acute Care, Neonatal, and Women's Health.
Georgetown University MSN: Midwifery and Women's Health
Georgetown University - Graduates of the Georgetown University online MS of Nursing in Midwifery and Women's Health will have more than just a degree to their name upon completion. Students will have the skill and knowledge to help advance their profession, and medicine as a whole, while serving as sponsors of the well-being and overall health of each of their patients.
Kaplan University MSN: Nurse Practitioners
RN to MSN
MSN: Nurse Administration
MSN: Nurse Education
MSN: Nurse Informatics
Kaplan University - The Kaplan University MSN for Nurse Practitioners and RN to MSN programs offers students the opportunity to explore nursing methods in a dynamic healthcare environment. Courses include Advanced Nursing Roles, Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in a Diverse Community. MSN specializations are offered in nurse administration, nurse education, and nurse informatics.
Capella University MSN: Nurse Educator
MSN: Educator Bridge
Capella University - The Capella University Master of Science in Nursing Educator specialization teaches nurses the art of nurse education. The curriculum features courses that provide advanced nursing methodologies along with the development, delivery, assessment, and review of nurse education programs. This program is also available as an RN to MSN bridge.
American Sentinel University MSN
MSN: Case Management
MSN: Health Informatics
MSN: Infection Prevention
MSN: Nurse Leadership
American Sentinel University - The American Sentinel University school of healthcare offers a Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree with specializations in case management, health informatics, infection control and prevention, and nursing leadership. All of these programs are CCNE-accredited, so students can be assured that graduation from American Sentinel should lead to expanded career opportunities.
Catholic University of America Doctor of Nursing Practice
Catholic University of America - At the Catholic University of America, students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will participate in an online format that confers an advanced degree in the management of healthcare. Graduates leave CUA with the education and confidence to tackle the most pressing medical management challenges.
Chamberlain College of Nursing MSN
Chamberlain College of Nursing - Chamberlain College of Nursing was found more than 120 years ago in St. Louis, Missouri. The school since grown drastically and serves students in 10 states across the nation. Chamberlain offers a Master of Science in Nursing online for students interested in earning their degree from home, work, or on-the-go.

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