Financial Aid and Paying for Nursing School

So you’ve decided you are going to take the plunge and go to nursing school? Or, maybe, you are a current student and feel as if you a drowning in debt. Perhaps you just need a little income to help pay the bills during nursing school. Financial burden is stressful and I feel your pain. Here are some tips and information on paying for nursing school, financial aid, and some options to make a little income.

The First Step is Always The FAFSA

First, fill out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In order to fill this out, you will need your tax information (or your parents). After filling out the application online, the U.S. Department of Education will determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is what they feel you can afford to pay during college. Your information from the FAFSA and EFC are sent to your school to determine your financial aid package. By filling out the FAFSA, you open yourself up to grants, scholarships, and loans available to help pay for college.
Pell Grant The Pell Grant is a grant provided by the government to help students pay for college. Your financial need determines the amount you are eligible for. Since it is a grant, the Pell Grant does not need to be paid back. For the 2014-2015 award year, the maximum Pell Grant is $5,730. By completing the FAFSA, the Pell Grant is automatically calculated for you. It’s that easy.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant or FSEOG Depending on financial need, students can receive anywhere from $100 – $4,000 per year. This is a campus-based grant, which means that your school must be a participant in order for you to receive it. It also takes into consideration how much you have received from the Pell Grant. Again, filling out the FAFSA allows eligibility to be determined.

School Loans and Scholarships Check with your school’s financial aid office to see if they have a list or packet of scholarships and grants available to their students. Many campuses are happy to provide this information and will answer any questions you may have. Remember to apply to scholarships early in order to help you chances.

Get Involved!

Becoming involved is a great way to find grant and scholarship opportunities. Based on GPA and your presence at school, you may be able to join different honor societies that have scholarships that are only available to members of that society.

  • I received a $1,500 scholarship from Marion Technical College by being chosen as a Student Ambassador. The application was easy, I only had to write a short essay and was qualified based on my GPA, the essay and an interview. My obligation for the scholarship is to work 75 hours per semester by giving campus tours and helping out with the office of admissions. It truly has been a rewarding experience. I have made tons of friends and networking in this position is a cinch. Many campuses have implemented Student Ambassadors as an important asset in showcasing their campus to prospective students.
  • Phi Theta Kappa Phi Theta Kappa is an honor society for 2-year colleges and academic programs. I was invited my second semester at Marion Technical College. It is GPA based and can vary depending on the college you attend. Once you are a member, you have access to their website containing a scholarship page. Some scholarships are only available to PTK members and others give priority to its members. There is a one-time fee for Phi Theta Kappa, the amount depends on your school’s chapter.
  • The National Society of Leadership and Success This is very similar to PTK since it is an honor society. Having a strong GPA is one way to become nominated for membership. If your campus presence is strong, you may still be invited even if your GPA is not as favorable. NSLS also has a website with exclusive scholarships available only to members and members who are working on induction. With NSLS, there is also a one-time membership fee of $85.00. NSLS also offers valuable leadership opportunities with live speaker broadcasts and training.

In addition to scholarship opportunities, being actively involved in your school’s campus can look superb on your resume. Nursing is a competitive field in some areas and these may give you a leg up over the competition after graduation.

Nursing Student Financial Aid

There are tons of financial opportunities available to nursing students. Each has it’s own rules and guidelines. You may be eligible based on your GPA, community service, high school performance, activities, race, gender, and the list goes on and on. Most scholarships require an essay submission. To help get you started, I have a post outlining and explaining specific loans, scholarships and grants available to nursing students.

  • Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program NEALP Financial assistance for Ohio students enrolled (or with accepted enrollment) in at least a half-time pre licensing study program. This is a loan but nurses that serve for at least 5 years in Ohio after graduation may be eligible for a 100 percent loan forgiveness. I have actually received this award for the current award year. It was seamless to apply and the funding was automatically added to my financial aid package. This loan was implemented to help combat the nursing shortage problem.
  • Nursing Student Scholarships I have included a few websites that list tons of Nursing Student Scholarships that are available. You will have to put in some work for these, many require an essay. I highly recommend making a list of scholarships and essay topics, then grouping the list into topics. This allows you to submit one essay to several scholarships.
    • Scholarships on the AACN Website

    • Scholarships on Johnson & Johnson Website

    • Exceptional Nurse  Awards scholarships to nursing students with disabilities every year

    • Show Me Your Stethoscope

      Other Options

      Go Fund Me Go Fund Me is a crowdfunding and fundraising website. It is extremely easy to set up and allows family, friends, (anyone really) to assist you with funding. I was able to set one up in under 5 minutes. You put in a goal of how much you would like to raise and share it on your Facebook. Your friends have the option to click on it, read your story and contribute.

      STNA / CNA Work If you are an STNA or CNA, working one day a week can help with supplementing income. Working during nursing school is also a great addition to your resume, showing that you have experience in the health field. May facilities have the option of working PRN (as needed). You may be able to get a job at the same facility after graduation or you can request letters of recommendation from staff to assist in landing that job after the NCLEX. As an STNA or CNA you can possibly find jobs at hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient facilities, assisted living facilities, home health care, hospice facilities, and clinics.

      Bartend / Waitress Bartending and waitressing may offer the flexibility needed with nursing school. Some establishments will allow you to work certain hours or days per week to accommodate schooling schedules.

      Crowdsourcing (Amazon Mechanical Turk, ClickworkerThese sites allow you to work at anytime of the day doing minimalistic tasks such as data entry or taking surveys. Most jobs pay only a few cents, although some people make a decent supplemental income from them.

      Or Be Your Own Boss

      Direct Sales Is a product or service that is sold person-to-person. There is no brick and mortar location for the sales associate. For sales, you are often paid a commission and are considered an independent contractor. The upside of direct sales is that you can set your own hours and work as much or as little as you would like. All the direct sales companies I have heard of require associates to purchase a starter kit. Here are some companies to help get you started.

      If you would like information about Thrive, please contact me. This stuff is my life and gets me through classes with mental clarity and focus!

      Thirty-One – Organization, Purses, Totes, Bags
      Mary Kay – Cosmetics
      Avon – Cosmetics
      Pure Romance – Adult Toys
      DoTerra – Essential Oils
      Young Living – Essential Oils
      Tupperware – Plastic Food Storage Containers
      Pampered Chef – Kitchen Tools
      Origami Owl – Personalized Jewelry
      Pink Zebra – Candles and Fragrance
      Scentsy – Fragrance Products
      Jamberry – Nail wraps
      Amway – Home & Nutrition

      Entrepreneur Sell your own products or services. Are you an amazing photographer with a professional camera? Are you awesome at producing websites? Can you bake like the Cake Boss? Use these talents and skills to your advantage! Offer services to friends and family. Put an ad in the paper and on Craigslist. You can easily post a flier on a bulletin board at your school. Do what you love and get paid for it, set your own hours. This option is less structured than direct sales and you get to put your passion to practice. Do keep in mind there can be A LOT of planning and work that comes into running your own business and don’t forget Uncle Sam if you go this route.
      Blogging If you have a passion and a voice, blogging may be for you. This allows you to set your own hours and you can put into it as much or as little as you like. Be forewarned, blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. The best bloggers who are making the most money put in tons of time and energy to their blogs. Most of these bloggers actually do things outside of just running a blog to make money, think public speaking, webinars, ect.

      Do you have any suggestions for supplementing income while in nursing school? Have you tried any of the methods listed above? If so, how did it go?

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