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How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

December 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

The question “how much does nursing school cost?” doesn’t necessarily come with a straightforward answer. With nursing degree costs, tuition rates vary greatly. For many aspiring nursing professionals, the high earning potential of the career outweighs the high costs of nursing school.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $73,300 in 2019. Advanced practice nurses made even more money, bringing in median earnings of $115,800. Nurses also work in an in-demand industry: the BLS projects that employment within healthcare occupations may increase by 14% from 2018-28.

Nevertheless, degree costs can still seem intimidating. In fact, total tuition costs can range from $6,000 for an associate degree to over $100,000 for an advanced degree. With such a vast range, exactly how much does nursing school cost? This guide explores the answer to that question, considering the many factors that contribute to the wide variation in nursing degree costs.

How Much Does a Nursing Degree Program Cost?

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How Tuition Cost Can Vary

Nursing school tuition figures depend on factors like format, location, and institution type. Costs can vary for programs offered on-campus and online, a student’s status as in-state or out-of-state impacts tuition, and private nursing schools typically charge more than public institutions.

Online vs. On-Campus Program Cost

In online nursing programs, students complete their coursework using virtual tools. They watch lectures online, turn in assignments through course management systems, and participate in class discussions through virtual chat boards and webcam meetings. Still, distance learners must attend their supervised clinical experiences and sometimes their laboratory requirements on location.

For colleges and universities, the operating expenses for online programs generally do not cost as much as on-campus programs. Therefore, students can generally expect to pay less in tuition fees for distance learning degrees than traditional, on-campus degrees. Online students can also save on other indirect costs, such as transportation and childcare. However, some online programs charge an additional distance learning fee.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Program Costs

Public schools often charge two different tuition rates: one rate for students who live in that state, and another for students coming from another state. The cost for nonresidents is usually higher — sometimes twice as much.

For example, Missouri State University estimates that in-state students pay about $28,000 in total tuition costs, while out-of-state students may pay over $63,000. Several community colleges offer an even lower tuition rate for learners who live within the county.

Keep this difference in cost in mind when researching public schools outside of your state. Also check whether the college or university offers any special scholarships or financial aid opportunities for non-residents to receive in-state tuition. Some schools may participate in tuition reciprocity agreements with neighboring states.

Public vs. Private Nursing School Programs

Although not a hard and fast rule, private colleges generally cost more than public colleges. Public higher education institutions receive taxpayer funds from the state government, which means that students do not need to pay as much in tuition.

Depending on the type of program, degree seekers can usually expect to pay $500 per credit or under at public universities; graduate students might pay more. Private universities might charge nursing students up to $1500 or even $2000 per credit.

Higher cost does not necessarily correlate to a higher-quality education. Many public school programs offer top-ranked nursing programs. Although private universities generally demand higher costs, students might choose these programs if they obtain scholarships, or if they determine that the education and networking opportunities will be worth it in the long run.

Additional Costs of Nursing School

On top of nursing school tuition costs, students should factor in other related expenses, including books, supplies, and transportation.

Typically costing a minimum of a few hundred dollars each semester, textbooks can ultimately cost thousands over the course of 2-4 years. Students also need to invest in their nursing outfits and supplies. Clothing can cost around $200, and lab supplies and stethoscopes might cost $300-$500. Degree seekers should also consider the cost of the $200 NCLEX exam and background checks needed for their licensure application.

Degree seekers may find themselves facing additional everyday costs. They need to factor in transportation to class, which could include the price of gas, road tolls, or public transit. Even individuals pursuing an online degree may need to sort out transportation to their clinical sites.

Students who live on campus must pay for room and board and meal plans. Students with families might need to consider childcare, such as babysitting or daycare for their children, while they attend class. These daily costs may vary greatly by location.

Paying for Nursing School

Although nursing jobs often come with higher-than-average salaries, many aspiring nursing professionals hesitate to start their degree because of nursing school costs. Nearly 70% of degree seekers take out loans at the graduate level, according to a 2017 survey from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). In addition, survey respondents estimated they took on $40,000-$55,000 of student loan debt.

Students can find several opportunities to help with paying for nursing school. Colleges and universities often offer institution-specific scholarships. Students can also access scholarships through professional associations, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. You can find a list of nursing scholarships and grants here, in addition to this resource.

Several ADN and BSN programs, including some graduate programs, offer discounted tuition rates for active or former military service members. In addition, students can apply for government aid. The federal, and some state governments, offer student loan forgiveness programs for graduates who pledge to work in areas experiencing high need for healthcare professionals. You can read more about those programs here.ADVERTISEMENT

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A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

August 09, 2018 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more

A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

Nursing is an extremely rewarding career, and it has the added benefit of being in high demand right now. But that doesn’t mean becoming a nurse is easy. Getting through nursing school takes a lot of hard work—and it can be fairly expensive. But because the need for nurses is on the rise, you’re likely to find good job prospects when you finish school.

The number of registered nurse (RN) jobs will grow to 3.2 million by 2022  as the demand for skilled nurses increases. Plus, the median annual salary for an RN  in 2017 was $70,000 The rise in new jobs combined with an aging nurse workforce facing retirement means the need for new well-trained nurses will only continue to grow.

The median annual salary for an RN in 2017 was $70,000.

That makes it the perfect time to become a nurse, but there are a variety of nursing school paths and finding the right option for you can be confusing. You could be an RN (registered nurse), a CNA (certified nursing assistant), or an LPN (licensed practical nurse). And not only are there plenty of nursing school options, there’s a variety of costs that accompany those choices.

Understanding different nursing degrees, which nursing program makes sense for you, and what your payment options are will help set you up for success.

What Are The Various Nursing Degrees You Can Pursue?

There are a number of routes to becoming a nurse or nurse’s assistant.

To become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), you need a high school degree, and you typically need to take 4-12 weeks of courses and pass a vocational exam. A CNA assists the nurses and doctors with things like admitting patients and taking vitals.

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is also known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Both require a diploma from an accredited program, which can take 12 to 18 months to complete. You must then pass a licensing exam  LPN work generally involves collecting samples, administering medications, and taking patients’ vitals and symptoms.

RNs (or registered nurses) need a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, and they must pass the NCLEX-RN exam  . There are also opportunities for LPNs to continue their education and earn their RN credentials. RNs are responsible for a wider range of patient care and treatment, including assessing the patients and recommending prevention plans.

RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) are able to apply for higher-level jobs than those with associate’s degrees. A bachelor’s degree is also generally required for higher-paying nursing roles in specialty fields, and for managerial roles.

Becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), or getting a master’s or doctorate in nursing is also an option for those who want to work as nurse administrators, nurse midwives, or enter the field of nurse education.

Need help after graduating nursing school? See what
SoFi student loan refinancing could do for you.

The Average Cost of Different Nursing Degrees

Choosing the right nursing degree depends on what kind of nurse you want to be, and what you’re looking to get out of nursing school. You should also understand the time commitment and costs associated with each option.

The cost of becoming a CNA can range depending on the state you test in. States may also have different requirements just to apply. Researching your state’s particular requirements  and costs will help you gauge how much you can expect to spend.

An LPN program takes 12 to 18 months to complete and generally costs around $10,000 to $15,000  total. The 2017 median pay for an LPN  is $45,030 annually.

If you choose to become an RN via an associate’s degree, it can take two to three years and can cost around $31,000.

If you choose to become an RN via an associate’s degree, it can take two to three years and can cost around $31,000  , depending on the program. However choosing to go to a community college or an in-state versus an out-of-state school makes the costs vary widely.

If you choose to get a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) on your way to becoming an RN, it works much like any bachelor’s degree. A BSN typically takes four years to complete and costs about the same as most bachelor’s degrees.

Of course, the annual costs depend on where you go to school, and whether you attend a private or public college. For RNs who already have an associate’s degree but would like their bachelor’s, there are RN to BSN bridge programs available. Some of these programs are available online, and you pay per credit hour.

To compare nursing school costs, you’ll want to look at tuition, additional fees (housing, etc.), and how many credits you need. You’ll also want to look at exam pass rates and job placement rates.

Other Fees You’ll Encounter While Studying to be a Nurse

In addition to nursing school tuition and books, there are typically lab fees each semester. You’ll also need to buy scrubs ($30 to $50 a pair), a lab jacket, and miscellaneous gear like a stethoscope.

Many nursing schools will also require that you take out liability insurance and get all mandatory immunizations. There’s also licensing and exam fees, which vary by state but can cost as much as $300 for your initial license and $200 to take the exam.

How To Pay For Nursing School Without Going Broke

For those attending accredited nursing schools, taking out student loans is always an option to help pay for tuition, room and board, and other student expenses. You can also apply for financial aid and scholarships—start by filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). That will tell you what you are eligible for in terms of federal loans, as well as grant funding or work study.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing also maintains a scholarship database  for nursing schools. In some cases, you can have your nursing student loans forgiven or repaid if you work in underserved communities with the Health Resources and Services Administration  and meet certain criteria.

If you’ve taken out federal or private student loans for nursing school, but now find it difficult to make payments, you might be able to refinance your student loans with a private lender. Refinancing into one lower-interest loan can be particularly helpful if you have multiple student loans.

And that could definitely be the case if you’ve completed nursing school through more than one degree program. Refinancing your loans after graduation can help you manage repaying the total cost of nursing school, after the fact, by allowing you to pay your loans off at a lower interest rate.Ready to repay your nursing degree at a lower rate? Check out SoFi student loan refinancing to see if you can get a better interest rate on your nursing school loans.

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment, or PAYE.SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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