What Financial Aid is Available for a MSN Degree?

With the economy still in a recession, some individuals are thinking about going back to school to earn a master's degree in something they're passionate about. With nurses continually in demand, registered nurses who are looking to advance their careers can go back to school with the intention of earning their MSN degree. However, figuring out the financial aid options available to a (potential) MSN nursing student is always important, as higher education can be one tremendous expense. Are you planning on earning your MSN degree online but don’t know how you’re going to pay for your classes? Then, you need to investigate the types of financial aid that you qualify for.

Military Tuition Assistance

For those individuals who have served our nation in the military, they can receive tuition assistance from the United States Government to help pay for their master's of science in nursing degree. Individuals who served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force qualify for the military tuition assistance program. All these students need to do is fill out an application letting the government know that they are enrolling in a college education program. They'll pay for a predetermined amount of tuition; anything over that amount, the student is responsible for paying.

Grants for Nursing Programs

As there seems to be an on-again, off-again shortage in the number of nurses in the United States, Congress is always pushing through bills that propose grants and loan repayment options for nursing students. Nowadays, if an individual wants to go to school to become a nurse or to earn their master’s degree, it’s likely some of these proposed grants and/or loan repayment options will help them out. Loan repayment enables nurses to go to the school of their choice and when they graduate from the program, the government will pay some (or all) of the loans back. This way, the individual doesn't have a student loan payment upon graduating.

Federal Student Loans

When an individual has the desire to enroll in any degree program, they will need to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so the government can determine by their income guidelines how much they can use in federal student loans, grants and scholarships. Brick-and-mortar universities, as well as online, this including online msn programs, review the student's completed FAFSA to determine if they qualify for grants or scholarships that are provided by the school. The government also has subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans that offer generous repayment and deferment options.

Tuition Reimbursement

Employed registered nurses can always ask their company’s human resources department to see if tuition reimbursement, if they were to go back to school, is possible. Most employers do offer tuition reimbursement programs and will pay a certain amount in tuition, every year. More often than not, the student has to pay for the classes upfront and then, upon successful completion of the program or course, with typically a “C” grade and above, the employer will pay for the courses.

Nursing Scholarships

Then, there’s also the possibility for scholarships. Prospective students who want to earn their master’s degrees in nursing are often eligible to receive nursing scholarships to help cover tuition, books, and other school-related expenses. These scholarships don't need to be paid back and are often offered through the college itself, as well as through private organizations.

Private Nursing Student Loans

The last route nursing students have in terms of financial aid is applying for private student loans designed for nursing programs. These loans, however, have the highest interest rates, when compared to federal student loans and often have stringent rules when it comes to forbearance and deferment. Private loans are offered through banks; individuals can search online to find and apply for this type of loan to pay for their tuition. Corey Walters is studying for his MSN, after several years working as a RN. He often attends career fairs at local high schools as a nursing ambassador, to encourage students to consider the profession. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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