Nursing is a fulfilling career and offers many great career opportunities for those with the necessary education and skills. The decision to begin or continue your nursing education is a big one, and how you plan to pay for school is an important element of that decision.
You shouldn’t be discouraged in pursuing your goals by lack of funds. Public sources for financial aid include federal and state scholarships and loans, as well as work study programs. In addition, many nursing schools and universities have their own financial aid packages, while community groups and membership organizations offer special scholarships and loans.
To initiate the application process, get a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) directly from the school to which you are seeking admission. The FAFSA is the one standardized form that all colleges and universities require and will be used to determine most of the financial aid that you will receive. Submitting the form means that you are applying for federal and state need-based grants and loans, federal college work-study, state merit scholarships, and institutional grants and scholarship programs.
Be sure to read and complete the form because errors will be costly in terms of time and missed opportunities. You should fill out and submit the forms as soon as you and your family have collected financial records for the current tax year because the amount of aid available at each school is limited. You will receive a report after about six weeks about your eligibility for financial aid.
When shopping for financial aid, check the accreditation status of the nursing and the school’s eligibility for aid. All accredited programs qualify for federal funding, but an institution may have limited access due to high default rates.
Federal grant programs provide funds that don’t need to be paid back. The application process may be more difficult but the payoff is significant. When you apply to some schools with your FAFSA, they may consider you for grants.
Pell Grants offer substantial support, depending on your financial need. You should apply for Pell Grants as soon as possible after January 1, although deadline for application submission is May 1 for the fall semester.
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) are available to students with exceptional financial need and enrolled at least half-time in an eligible undergraduate program. The participating school determines the amount up to $4,000 a year.
If you can qualify for scholarships, this would be a great source of finance for your nursing education. Competition is tough, though. Professional associations for particular nursing specialties may offer scholarships to qualified persons. Other good sources are religious and other philanthropic organizations.
According to the minoritynurse Web site, the most important rule for winning a nursing scholarship “is to apply.” “Searching for scholarships and filling out applications is indeed time-consuming, but the hours invested can pay off in thousands of dollars.” There are many private scholarships available for nursing students. Visit my-nursing-career.com for a list of over 750 scholarship just for
College Work-Study Programs
The federal program supports part-time employment in participating schools. The school provides you an on- or off-campus job paying at least the prevailing minimum wage and sets the number of hours to be worked.
To qualify you should submit completed applications early in the calendar year.
There are low-interest college loans. These entail some commitment, but they also provide you with the means to accomplish your dreams. You usually apply at your chosen school.
Perkins Loans can lend up to $4,000 per year of undergraduate study. Repayment begins 9 months after graduation at 5% interest; you have up to 10 years to repay the loan.
Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students), and SLS Loans are loans you will have to arrange privately through banks and other lending institutions. These carry a maximum interest rate of 8.25%. Usually, there is a total loan limit of $23,000 for all 4 years of study.
The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit are the two most common tax credits for students. You can not receive both tax credits at the same time for the same person.
The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit can be claimed for qualified tuition and school-related expenses for each student in the taxpayer’s family. The maximum credit a taxpayer may claim is $2,000. In other words, the credit is equal to 20 percent of the taxpayer’s first $10,000 out of pocket tuition and related expenses.
The Hope Scholarship Tax Credit can be claimed for qualified tuition and school-related expenses for each student in the tax payer’s family. The student must be enrolled half-time and be in either the first or second years of a post-secondary education program that will lead to a degree or certificate. The maximum credit a taxpayer can claim is $1,500 for each student in the family.