As a kid, you are always asked what you wanted to be when you grow up. You may have said you wanted to be a doctor, a teacher, lawyer, an actor, a cashier, or a nurse. Growing up, it takes a certain kind of passion to actually determine and decide on the career path you would like to take.
This is the same with nursing. You cannot just wake up one morning and decide to be a nurse. It takes a lot of passion, preparation, and determination. The costs of going to nursing school alone, aside from the physical hurdles you must undertake, are overwhelming.
Average Cost of Nursing School
Main factors affecting could be the nursing program you choose, the location, or the kind of school – costs could be as low as $4,000 for the whole LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) program and can be as expensive as $200,000 for an Advanced Practice program.
Tuition fees for nursing schools are usually computed by credit hour. To determine your estimate, you multiply the cost per credit hour to the required hours to finish the program.
For example, the Ameritech College of Healthcare in Utah published that the tuition fee per credit hour is at $652.89 (or $63); and as the required number of credit hours is 69 hours, costs in Ameritech could go up to around $45,050.
What is Included?
When in a nursing school, you would be spending a lot of your time inside the classroom and laboratories poring over books, theories, and tests. In addition to that, you would also be spending a lot of time in clinics for personal experiences in nursing. This is now where you apply all those theories that have been previously discussed in the classrooms.
An LPN program usually takes about 12 to 18 months to finish. If you have completed an LPN program, you can work in hospitals and clinics just like a registered nurse can. The difference lies in critical thinking skills, nursing scope of practice, and overall responsibilities. The cost of an LPN program could go from $4,000 to $15,000 or even $17,000 per year.
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) usually takes about two to three years to finish. It is a little more expensive than that of LPN. Chaffey College in California, for example, estimates the cost of ADN at $2,807 per semester.
A BSN-RN (Bachelor’s Degree) usually takes about three to four years to finish. This would be more costly but yields a higher salary potential than the other two nursing programs above.
So what if you choose the BSN-RN program? This is normally priced at around $25,000 but could reach hundreds of thousands depending on the university you enroll in. The UT Health School of Nursing estimates costs at around $7,908 per year for an RN/BRN program. A BSN program in the same school costs $15,928, while a BSN specific for Nurse Anesthesia will require $37,493.
- As a student, you would be spending a lot of time reading. Textbooks are always included when summing up school-related costs. You can opt for second-hand books which could save you hundreds of dollars, or you could even borrow from friends or relatives (slim chances here unless you know people who studied nursing before). Some schools also have rental services where you can rent from them the textbooks that you need. Better ask your college/university if they offer this before you purchase.
- Nursing-necessities like a stethoscope, penlight, medical scissors, and comfy clogs are also needed. A stethoscope costs for as low as $10 to as high as $70. As for the pair of medical scissors, nursing shoes, and the penlight, prepare to pay about $30 to $50 in total.
- You would also need scrubs and a lab jacket for school. A laboratory jacket costs about $15 to $30 while a pair of scrubs is about $10 – $35. Sometimes, these are already included in your tuition fees so make sure to check with your college/university first before buying one.
- As a nursing student, you would be required to spend a specific number of hours in the clinic. Being in the clinic would expose you to certain diseases/infections. As such, you need immunizations to ensure you are well protected. Depending on the types of immunizations, it could be from around $25 to well above $100 without insurance.
- Going to nursing school could also cost you some transportation fees, or gas if you decide to use your car. This would cover home to school or home to clinic trips. Depending on where you are, you can use the bus, the metro, or your own car. In addition to the transportation expenses, you would also need to pay for your dorm, or for your flat if you attend nursing school away from home. The University of Kansas, for example, has dorms that would be available for about $5,910 per year.
- To ensure that your knowledge and abilities have met the standards set by the industry, you are also required to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before you even start looking for nursing jobs. NCLEX would cost you an additional $200 for the registration fee. Tests are done using computers and the results would determine your future in the nursing world.
- If you are already working as a nurse but would like to forward your career and be on top of the race, some certifications are also available for the taking. For example, a certification for Inpatient Obstetric Nursing could cost you $325. This already includes a registration fee of $50 and a testing fee of $275. This certification is available at NCC (National Certification Corporation).
Make sure to complete all information prior to submission because there is a reprocessing fee of $30 for incomplete applications. Another common certification is that for Emergency Nursing. This is being offered by the BCEN (Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing) for $230 to $370 for the initial testing. A retest costs $200 to $340.
Shopping for Nursing Schools
If you are currently on another job but would like to study nursing, you may be worried about not having the luxury of time to go to school and retain your job at the same time. To address these issues, online programs are now available. You may take your classes and homework online. Note, however, that you would be required to coordinate with clinics (usually local clinics) for the clinical experiences. The Johns Hopkins University currently offers online nursing courses that include Nutrition and Biostatistics courses among others.
You can check out nursing schools near you at Discover Nursing. Aside from that, you can also search for scholarships that are available for nursing programs which you can apply for.
Factors That Matters
- Scholarships and grants can significantly lower the expense of nursing school for you. Discover Nursing has a listing of scholarships programs that you can apply for. Although the list of applicants may be long, it would be worth it once you are granted and allowed into any scholarship program. You would, of course, be required to maintain certain GPAs for you to retain the scholarship/grant. Rasmussen College which has six locations across the US has scholarship programs for deserving applicants.
- Your decision whether to get your nursing degree from a private institution or from a state college/university can also impact your wallets. Private schools tend to be more expensive than state colleges. Johns Hopkins, for example, has a pre-licensure rate of $1,591 per credit hour while Kansas University has prices ranging from $33 to $400 per credit hour, depending on the nursing program you would like to take.
- In-state students get to pay lesser tuition fees than the out-of-state students. For example, the University of Utah published its tuition fees to be at $10,253.06 for in-state students, while students from outside the state of Utah need to pay $30,036.44 for two semesters. Try to check whether there are nursing programs being offered within your state that you would consider taking. It can potentially save you a lot of costs.
- If you have financial concerns but would like to go to nursing school, the Federal Student Aid may be the answer to your woes. You can submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and see if you qualify.
Nursing school can be expensive but the yield is high. Nursing is a profession that is growing by the thousands in terms of salary and benefits year per year. With the right combination of a degree, experience, and additional certifications, everything you spent in nursing school from the dollars to the hours will be worth it in the end.