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Nurse educators play a pivotal role in shaping future generations of registered nurses (RNs) and advancing the nursing profession. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has developed this fact sheet to highlight funding sources available to students considering graduate study en route to nurse faculty careers.
Funding Your Graduate Nursing Education
The first place to go when seeking funding for your graduate nursing education is the financial aid office at your academic institution. Most grant and loan programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education, such as Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, and Stafford Loans, are managed through the nursing school’s financial aid office.
Eligibility for some programs, including Perkins Loans, is based on financial need. In order to receive any assistance through these programs, you must complete an free online Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Federal Financial Aid Offered by Your School of Nursing
Schools of nursing manage a variety of scholarship and loan programs for students pursuing graduate nursing degrees. Some programs do not require repayment while traditional loan programs have a payback requirement. Other programs may also require a post-graduation service commitment. Funded by the Division of Nursing at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), these programs include:
- Nurse Faculty Loan Program assists graduate students pursing faculty careers. Students must agree to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85% of their educational loans, plus interest, over a four-year period.
- Advance Nursing Education Traineeships provides financial assistance to graduate nursing students including full or partial support for the costs of tuition, books, program fees, and reasonable living expenses.
- Nursing Student Loan Program assists graduate nursing students with a maximum of $17,000 at low interest, with a preference for those with financial need. The repayment period is 10 years. The program provides $3,300 in non-taxable loans to students during their first two years of study and $5,200 for their last two years.
The U.S. Department of Education administers the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program that provides fellowships, through schools of nursing, to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue a research-focused doctoral degree. Nursing has been identified as an area of national need.
Important Note: Not all schools of nursing offer these funding opportunities, so check first with the financial aid department of the schools of nursing you are considering attending.
Federal Financial Aid that Nursing Students Can Apply For
The Division of Nursing at HRSA also offers loan and scholarship programs for which individual students can apply, including:
NURSE Corps Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs support current students and new graduates. These programs include:
- Loan Repayment: Repays up to 85% of nursing student loans in return for at least three years of practice in a designated healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses.
- Scholarship: Offers individuals who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment as full-time nursing students the opportunity to apply for scholarship funds. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in a healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses for at least two years.
The Bureau of Health Professions at HRSA also offers funding opportunities for graduate students. These programs include:
State Sponsored Scholarship and Loan Forgiveness Programs
Some states have developed programs that offer loan forgiveness for nursing faculty or have proposed legislation to provide funding assistance to nurse educators. To find out if a program is available in your state or if one is being considered, see these resources:
Individuals are encouraged to check with their state higher education agency or board of nursing to find out what other financial aid programs are available. To make contact with your local board, see www.ncsbn.org/contactbon.htm.
Private Scholarships and Specialty Area Programs
In addition to federal and state financial aid programs for graduate nursing students and nurse educators, dozens of programs are available through private organizations and specialty-focused agencies. Below is a sampling of available programs.
Finally, there are many online databases that nursing students are encouraged to visit to search for sources of assistance. These include:
- The Michigan State University Libraries maintain an excellent resource page for nursing students seeking financial assistance.
- Developed by the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, Discovernursing.com features a searchable database of financial aid opportunities.
- The Health Workforce Information Center includes a special section in funding opportunities for all health professions, including nursing.
- MinorityNurse.com maintains a listing of scholarship and fellowship money for students from diverse backgrounds, including opportunities to fund graduate study.
- ExploreHealthCareers.org provides easy access to students seeking information about health careers, including a searchable directory of funding opportunities.
- Several general interest scholarship search engines are available on the Web and may include opportunities for graduate nursing students.
For additional links to other financial aid resources for graduate nursing students, see AACN’s Financial Aid and Scholarship Resource.
Last Update: July 12, 2017
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