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Attending nursing school can be a powerful investment in your future. When choosing a school and degree program, prospective nursing students must consider the cost of nursing school so they can anticipate when their investment might pay off.
This article overviews the average cost of nursing school at each degree level. We also outline a few key financial aid resources to help alleviate costs. Finally, we discuss the potential return on investment for degrees in nursing.
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How Much Does Nursing School Cost?
The cost of nursing school can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the degree you choose, whether you attend part or full time, whether you attend an in-state or out-of-state institution and whether you enroll in a private or public school.
Associate degrees in nursing (ADNs) tend to cost less, with some programs totaling as little as $3,000, while more advanced degrees can cost up to $100,000 if you attend a private school.
Cost of Nursing School by Degree
The cost of nursing school can vary considerably depending on the school and degree level you choose. Below we break down typical nursing school costs for each degree level, ranging from an ADN to a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).
Associate Degree in Nursing
Aspiring nursing students looking for a time- and cost-effective avenue into nursing may consider an associate degree in nursing. ADN programs typically last two years and are generally among the most affordable educational options for nursing students. With that said, tuition and program costs can vary considerably by school.
Several factors can impact the cost of an ADN degree, including whether you choose to attend an institution in or out of state and whether it’s a public or private university. Enrolling in an out-of-state public program can cost over double the tuition of an in-state public program.
Generally, the cost of ADN programs at public universities can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per year. Since most ADNs are two-year degrees, this amounts to $6,000 to $20,000 in total. Private universities generally charge higher tuition rates; private school students can spend more than $40,000 for their ADN.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
On average, a bachelor of science in nursing takes four years of full-time study to complete and typically comprises 120 credits. Like with an ADN, the total cost of a BSN degree varies widely depending on whether it’s a public or private university and whether you attend in or out of state. Students can pay between $20,000 to over $100,000 in total for a BSN degree.
In most cases, out-of-state tuition costs significantly more than in-state tuition. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that the average undergraduate tuition and required fees for full-time students in the 2020-21 school year were $9,375 at in-state institutions and $27,091 at out-of-state institutions.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
MSN programs take one to two years to complete. The total cost of a master’s in nursing ranges between $24,000 and $80,000 depending on similar factors to those affecting ADN and BSN costs. Some MSN programs, including out-of-state and private universities or colleges, can cost $100,000 or more.
Program length also impacts the cost of an MSN, and the number of required credits varies considerably by program. Students may need to complete anywhere between 30 and 70 credit hours depending on the program they choose.
An MSN typically costs more for part-time students since part-time enrollment often increases overall program length. Students who attend out-of-state or private universities often pay more as well.
Doctor of Nursing Practice
The total cost of a DNP degree can vary significantly depending on several factors, including your highest education level since this impacts program length. If your highest degree is a bachelor’s, you can expect a BSN-to-DNP program to take three to four years. Alternatively, an MSN-to-DNP program takes around two years to complete.
DNP programs can range in cost from around $10,000 to over $100,000. Attending part time or enrolling in a private university can raise your costs.
Additional Nursing School Expenses
Aside from tuition and fees, prospective nursing students should consider additional nursing school expenses when determining the total cost of nursing school. These expenses can include the following:
- Background checks
- Childcare for students with families
- Immunizations, drug tests and lab tests
- Lab supplies
- Lost or reduced wages for students who quit their jobs or reduce their working hours
- National licensure exam prep and registration
- Physical exams
- Transportation costs and parking fees for commuters
NCLEX Prep and Fees
To obtain licensure and begin practicing, nursing students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Candidates seeking to practice in the U.S. must pay a $200 registration fee to take the NCLEX.
Once you pay the registration fee and schedule your exam, you can look into prep courses and other resources to start preparing. NCLEX prep courses can cost anywhere from $25 to over $500. Students can browse various prep materials and courses to choose one that suits their budget, learning style and scheduling needs.
How to Pay for Nursing School
Students must submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal student aid, including loans. For more information, check out our guides explaining what the FAFSA is and how to apply for financial aid using the FAFSA.
Nursing students can look into scholarships, grants and tuition reimbursement programs to help reduce the cost of nursing school. The American Association of Colleges and Nursing updates a list of aid resources for nursing students. Below we explore various means of financial aid to help offset and alleviate nursing school costs.
Scholarships are often awarded to students based on academic achievement or financial need. Scholarships are available through both public and private resources, and they do not need to be repaid. For example, Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration offer scholarships to nursing students.
Grants are need-based awards typically issued by companies, organizations, foundations and government organizations. Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment. Several government and private agencies offer grants for nursing students. For example, the California Department of Health Care Access and Information provides grants to nursing students who commit to practicing in underserved areas.
Program applicants may also seek student loans to pay for nursing school. Unlike scholarships and grants, students must repay loans. Nursing students can choose from two primary loan types: federal loans and private loans. For suggestions, check out our list of the best nursing school loans.
To apply for federal financial aid, including federal loans, students must submit the FAFSA. Generally, federal loans incur less interest than private loans. There are three main types of federal loans students can apply for:
- Direct subsidized loans
- Direct unsubsidized loans
- Direct PLUS loans
Federal loans come with annual borrowing caps. For example, direct subsidized loans are capped at $5,500 to $12,500 per year. Students who max out their federal loan offers and need additional financial assistance may need to look into private loans.
Student loan forgiveness programs are available to nursing graduates and offer a chance to eliminate student loan debt. For more information, see our guide on the different ways to get student loan forgiveness for nurses.
Make sure you thoroughly understand the specifications, requirements and terms of a prospective loan program before accepting a loan or loan forgiveness.
Tuition Reimbursement Programs
Employers often offer tuition reimbursement programs, which are becoming increasingly common in the health care industry to address the national shortage of nurses in hospitals and healthcare facilities. A tuition reimbursement program may look like an employer reimbursing a portion, or the total, of a graduate’s tuition as long as the graduate commits to working as a nurse in a specific place or for a certain number of years.
Common reimbursement programs may include the following conditions:
- Successful completion of the degree program
- Maintaining a specified grade point average
- Agreeing to work for a specific hospital or another healthcare facility for a specified amount of time
- Agreeing to work in a specific geographic area, such as a rural region
For example, the federal Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program repays student loans for qualifying nurses who commit to working in nonprofit clinics or hospitals.
Nursing School Return on Investment
The return on investment is the profit you’ve earned on your investment (in this case, your salary after finishing nursing school) divided by the cost of your investment (the cost of nursing school), multiplied by 100 to give you a percentage.
Let’s say you spend $50,000 earning a BSN, and you go on to become a registered nurse (RN). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn a median annual salary of $77,600 per year, meaning you would recoup your investment (and then some) within one year of working as an RN. Let’s break it down:
$77,600 / $50,000 x 100 = 155.2
After one year of working as an RN, you could see an ROI of 155.2%.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Cost of Nursing School
How much is the tuition for nursing?
Tuition rates for nursing school vary considerably depending on your desired degree level and the school you choose. Looking at ADN, BSN, MSN and DNP programs, nursing school can range in cost from around $3,000 to over $100,000.
Is becoming a nurse worth it?
Yes, for many people, nursing is a worthwhile career. Nursing can be physically and emotionally demanding and generally entails long working hours. On the other hand, nursing offers opportunities to engage in meaningful work that provides essential care and support to others. Nursing provides job security, boasts a high earning potential and can offer variety in your day-to-day work. After one year of work as an RN, you could recoup more than 100% of your investment in nursing school.
The average cost of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is between $8,000 and $55,000. The average student loan debt for a BSN is $23,711.How much is student loan for nursing? ›
The average cost of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is between $8,000 and $55,000. The average student loan debt for a BSN is $23,711.How much is nursing school fees? ›
A four-year BSN program at a public school can range from $40,000 - $80,000, while attending a private school could cost anywhere between $60,000 to $120,000. Overall costs can substantially increase for out-of-state students.What kind of nurses get paid most? ›
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earn a median salary of $195,610 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the top paying nursing specialty.What was the hardest class in nursing school? ›
- Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
- Pharmacology. ...
- Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
- Evidence-Based Practice.
Experts expect students who graduated in 2021 to pay off their student loans between 8-19 years while paying $669 per month. Ultimately, how long it takes to pay off nursing school loans depends on the amount of money borrowed, the interest rate, and repayment habits.Do nurses get student loans paid off? ›
Registered nurses who work at least 32 hours a week at a qualified facility can get 60% of their student loans paid off over two years of employment. Borrowers have the option of getting an additional 25% of their loans paid off by the Nurse Corps program for a third year. Applications are only accepted once a year.Where is the cheapest to study nursing? ›
Norway. Norway comes in first as the cheapest in the world to pursue a nursing degree since most Norwegian public institutions do charge tuition fees. The best part? All international students qualify for this benefit.How much is the cheapest nursing school in the USA? ›
- Lamar University. Tuition – $3,120 per semester. ...
- Stony Brook University. Tuition – $2,785 per semester. ...
- University of Nevada at Las Vegas. ...
- University of Michigan Flint. ...
- Northwestern Michigan College. ...
- Indiana State University. ...
- East Carolina University. ...
- Clarkson College.
- Columbia University.
- University of Washington. ...
- New York University. ...
- Vanderbilt University. ...
- Johns Hopkins University. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, JHU offers one of the most expensive nursing programs in the country. ...
- Occupational Health Nurse. About the Job: ...
- Research Nurse. About the Job: ...
- Case Management. About the Job: ...
- School Nurse. About the Job: ...
- College Health Clinic Nurse. About the Job: ...
- Community Health Nurse. About the Job: ...
- Nurse Writer. ...
- Parenteral/Enteral Nurse.
While both nurse practitioners and doctors can enjoy the benefit of great incomes, doctors make almost twice as much as nurse practitioners. In fact, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, doctors typically earn an average annual salary of about $200,000 or more.What is the easiest level of nursing? ›
The easiest role you can have as a nurse is that of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). LPNs and LVNs work under registered nurses (RNs), providing basic nursing care.Is it common to fail nursing class? ›
Many nursing schools require a minimum grade of roughly 80% to actually pass, as well. By the time you realize you aren't doing well enough to be successful in the course, the choices can be pretty limited. Failure happens all the time. It happens every day...What is higher a BSN or RN? ›
A BSN is a higher level of education by comparison to a sponsored diploma or ADN and opens you up to more nursing job opportunities and a higher salary. Regardless of which educational path you choose, your journey as an RN will start with one of these accredited programs and requires you to pass the NCLEX-RN.How do I pay off nursing school? ›
- Scholarships. Scholarships can help reduce the amount that you owe for nursing school. ...
- Financial Aid. ...
- Nursing Tuition Reimbursement. ...
- Military Service. ...
- Work-Study Programs. ...
- RN to BSN Programs. ...
- Nursing Apprenticeships. ...
- Nursing Loan Forgiveness.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration offers a student loan repayment program (among other assistance programs) to eligible health care professionals. To qualify for forgiveness, you'll need to be licensed and work in an eligible discipline.
PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.Is the government going to forgive nurses student loans? ›
After the 120-month repayment period, the federal government will forgive any remaining loan balances. The forgiven balance will not be taxed. Eligible nurses who have both federal and private loans can have their federal loans forgiven through PSLF, but not their private loans.Do nurses get tuition forgiveness? ›
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers student loan forgiveness for nurses who are working full time for a government or nonprofit organization by paying off the remainder of their loans after the first 120 payments.
You will receive 60% of your total outstanding, qualifying, nursing education loans over the course of two years. After your two-year service contract, you may be eligible for a third year and an additional 25% of your loans. These funds are not exempt from federal income and employment taxes.What is the lowest GPA for nursing? ›
While most nursing schools set their minimum GPA requirements at 3.0, there are accelerated nursing programs out there that accept students with 2.7 and 2.8 GPAs. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean you'd receive a lesser nursing education with these programs.Why is nursing degree so expensive? ›
Reasons Why Nursing School is So Expensive
Expanding campus amenities. Growing college administrations. Higher demand for a college education. Increases in the cost of living.
What is the shortest schooling for a medical career? The shortest schooling for a medical career is a Diploma in Practical Nursing (DPN). In as little as 12 months, you can become a licensed pratical nurse (LPN) and be on your way toward becoming an registered nurse (RN).How much does a 2 year nursing degree pay in USA? ›
Licensed practical nurse average salary
According to Indeed's salary information, the national average salary for LPNs in the United States comes in at $23.81 per hour , which can amount to just under $50,000 per year, assuming a 40-hour workweek.
In the United States overall, the average registered nurse salary is $82,750 and the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. California, with RN salaries averaging $124,000, is the highest-paying state for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).How much is RN per hour in USA? ›
|Years of experience||Per hour|
|1 to 2 years||$42.21|
|3 to 5 years||$44.31|
|6 to 9 years||$45.90|
|More than 10 years||$51.33|
#1: Duke University
The school consistently ranks among the best in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's top MSN and DNP programs. Indeed, DUSON was the first school in North Carolina to offer the doctor of nursing practice degree.
A GPA above 3.0 would be a good GPA for nursing school. That's the requirement for some programs. If you have aspirations for graduate school, you might need a GPA closer to a 4.0, depending on the school or degree you want.Which state has the cheapest nursing programs? ›
The most affordable nursing schools in the US are Oklahoma City University, Florida State University, and University of West Georgia. Our list of affordable nursing programs covers bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs that will help advance your career in nursing or healthcare.
Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are some of the lowest-paid nursing roles, but that is due to the fact that the educational requirements are less than most other types of nurses.What is the least stressful type of nurse? ›
These nurses administer more basic care and typically don't have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need.
The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients. Other stressful nursing jobs include OR nursing, oncology nursing, and psychiatric nursing.Which is higher LPN or RN? ›
LPNs will likely earn lower salaries than RNs. This is because RNs have more advanced training and can carry out more complex types of patient care. Average salaries across both professions depend largely on your education, experience and where you practice and typically do not reflect entry-level positions.Am I too old to be a nurse? ›
Becoming a nurse is a dream for many. And while some people might feel that becoming a nurse later in life isn't possible, that's simply not true. Thanks to a variety of diverse nursing programs, it's 100% possible to follow your heart and become a nurse at any age.Is 60 too old to go to nursing school? ›
The short answer is that you're never too old to go to nursing school. Even if you're not physically able to do certain nursing jobs, there are other nursing specialties you're going to be able to do.What city pays nurses the most? ›
This makes San Jose the highest-paying city for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the BLS). In the United States, the average salary for RNs is $82,750. Additionally, the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. Over $100,000 lower than the San Jose's average nurse salary is Decatur, AL, at $54,410.What is harder paramedic or nursing? ›
Paramedics are more highly trained than LPNs, however, the 1,200 to 1,800 hours of schooling a paramedic receives is lower than the two to four years it usually takes to become an RN. The paramedic's duties are mainly concerned with delivering emergency care to patients prior to arriving at the hospital.What's the difference between a RN and a nurse practitioner? ›
Although both registered nurses and nurse practitioners focus on patient observation and care, the largest difference between the two roles is that NPs are permitted to prescribe treatments, order tests, and diagnose patients—duties normally performed by physicians—whereas RNs are not.What is the fastest nurse to become? ›
The fastest way to become an RN is through an RN diploma program, which can be completed in as little as a year. While completing this program does not lead to a degree, it does make the individual eligible to take the NCLEX and earn their RN license.
Nursing in the "real world" generally requires very basic math skills, but almost all programs require at least one college-level math class — usually algebra. Some nursing schools may require a basic statistics course as well, so if you know what schools you're applying to, be sure to check for this requirement.What is the fastest program to become an RN? ›
If you are aiming towards becoming a registered nurse, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) is one of the fastest paths to get there. This undergraduate degree is the minimum educational requirement for becoming a registered nurse and usually takes two to three years depending on the credits.How many nursing students drop out? ›
According to the National League for Nursing, the national dropout rate for nursing programs in the United States is 20%, and this high attrition rate is considered problematic.What is the hardest nursing semester? ›
Without question, the most difficult semester for me was the last semester of my junior year in nursing school. I attended a 4-year BSN program, and that particular semester included three classes that were very content-heavy, as well as the corresponding clinical hours for those classes.How many times can you fail RN test? ›
Though the vast majority of candidates pass the exam the first time, those who fail are permitted to retake it after 45 days from their original test date. Candidates may retest as many as 8 times in a year.What is a nurse with a BSN called? ›
A BSN, which stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is an undergraduate-level degree for registered nurses (RNs) that introduces nurses to topics such as patient care technology, research, health promotion, safety and quality within the healthcare system.Is it better to get a BSN or MSN? ›
Nurses with an MSN can earn more than RNs with a BSN. That's partly because a nurse with an MSN is better positioned to work in management or become licensed as a nurse practitioner. As of 2021, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $120,680.What is the nursing student loan? ›
The Nursing Student Loan is a federally funded loan available to undergraduate students in the College of Nursing who demonstrate financial need. The loan amount varies by student and is based on availability of funds, and student's eligibility as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).What is the average medical student loan payment? ›
Loan and Repayment Statistics
The average physician ultimately pays $135,000 – $440,000 for an educational loan plus interest. $135,000 – $254,000 is just from interest. A $200,000 debt can double in 10 years at current interest rates, even with regular payments.
- Graduated Repayment Plan. ...
- Extended Repayment Plan. ...
- Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. ...
- Direct Consolidation Loan. ...
- Refinancing nursing school loans. ...
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) ...
- Federal Perkins Loan cancellation. ...
- Military repayment programs for nursing loans.
Each year, thousands of medical school students graduate with roughly $3 billion in total student loan debt. In 2022, the median medical school debt was $200,000. Borrowers with medical school debt may take 20-25 years to repay federal loans in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans.How do you pay for living while in nursing school? ›
Federal student loans also offer low-interest rates, various repayment plans, and forgiveness options. You could also use federal student loans to cover living expenses. For example, if you need to pay rent for an apartment while you're attending nursing school, a federal student loan can help cover those expenses.Who is eligible for the federal nursing loan? ›
Nursing Student Loans are low-interest federal loans offered to eligible nursing students (undergraduate third and fourth year and eligible graduate students) who have filed a FAFSA. Students must be enrolled for at least 6 credit hours and demonstrate financial need to be eligible.Do I get student loan forgiveness? ›
Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness? To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have federal student loans and earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household). Borrowers who meet that criteria can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation.How do people afford med school? ›
To become eligible for federal financial aid to help you pay for medical school, you'll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA could qualify you for the following: Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Medical students can borrow these loans (sometimes called “Stafford Loans”).What is the average monthly student loan bill? ›
But considering the average debt among recent graduates who took out student loans is nearly $30,000, per an analysis by U.S. News, the monthly payment on a 10-year standard repayment plan would be on the higher end of that range – around $300.Is medical school worth the debt? ›
But it's certainly “worth it” financially. The debt worries a lot of people, but unlike some high-income professions, medicine is still a “good bet.” As long as you match and don't have a higher-than-average loan burden and a lower-than-average income, you're not going to have trouble paying off those student loans.How long does it take to pay off 300k in student loans? ›
How long does it take to pay off $300k student loans? This will depend on the type of student loans you have and the repayment terms you choose. Federal student loans: It will generally take 10 to 25 years to pay off federal loans, depending on the repayment plan.How long does it take to pay off 15000 in student loans? ›
|Total Student Loan Debt||Repayment Period|
|Less than $7,500||10 years|
- Nursing Scholarships. Scholarships are essentially free money you don't pay back. ...
- Tuition Reimbursement for Nurses. If you already work in healthcare, your employer may reimburse you for tuition expenses for nursing school. ...
- Crowdfunding Your Nursing Education.
Nearly all medical students qualify for federal student loans , which may include the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and possibly the Direct PLUS Loan. These loans will cover the entire cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and board, and all other official miscellaneous expenses.How long to pay off med school debt? ›
Average time to repay medical school debt: 13 years
This way, you can make the right decisions with your finances. While medical school graduates generally make six-figure incomes, accruing interest on high student loan balances could lead to a longer repayment time.
The typical GPA we advise students to have is a 3.5 across all subjects. However, we work with many students who have GPAs lower than this who are accepted. Grade trends are also important with an upward grade trend making you a more competitive applicant.