The cost of education has increased manifold in recent years. This means students must take out more student loans to finance their education. Thousands of students graduate from nursing school with student debt, some in the six figures. This is not surprising given that the average yearly cost of tuition and fees for professional schools, including nursing schools, now tops out at over $21,000. So, if you want to manage to fund your nursing education, below are some tips that can help you avoid nursing school student debt.
Start Saving Early
If you plan to attend an out-of-state school, you can expect to pay about three times more than what you would pay for the same program in your state. It has been found that students who begin working and saving money for a rainy day have a much better chance of avoiding student debt. While you may not be able to save enough to cover the entire cost of a four-year nursing degree, you should be able to save up enough to avoid taking out a big loan.
Take Full-Time Courses
The longer you attend school, the more likely you will finish your program and graduate. Nursing students who take on full-time course loads tend to have a significant advantage over part-time students. This is because full-time students are able to receive financial aid, have access to more resources, and spend more time in class learning the material. In addition, there are plenty of affordable RN to BSN program options available, which allow you to attend school full-time.
Pursue Grants and Scholarships
The cost of a nursing degree is astronomical, but there are ways to bring down the price tag. One way is by pursuing grants and scholarships, which are free money to support your education. Scholarships are awarded based on merit or financial need. Grants are available based on merits, such as academic excellence and need. To find out what grants and scholarships you may qualify for, check with your high school guidance counselor, the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend, and Google.
Network and Ask for Referrals
One of the best ways to find a financial aid representative to help you with your money woes is by working with someone who has first-hand experience. In other words, ask your parents and family members if they can refer you to someone they know who is in the financial aid industry. The more people you are able to network with, the better your chances of finding low-interest loans.
Get a Part-Time Job
You can also work while attending school part-time and pay for your education. You will be able to cut down on debt significantly. You can also opt for a nursing-related job to earn “real-world experience,” which will help you secure a better job after completing your education.
Avoid Private Loans
If you have to take out student loans, consider taking out Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Perkins Loans. These federal loans offer low-interest rates and do not require a credit check. In addition, the repayment plan is usually more favorable than the plans offered through private lending institutions. If you already have private loans, contact the lending institution and see if they will give you an interest rate reduction.
Transfer to a Less Expensive School
Consider transferring if you are close enough to a less expensive local public or community college. Once you have been accepted as a transfer student, you will be able to take advantage of in-state tuition rates, which are usually lower than out-of-state students’ rates. Furthermore, suppose you are an out-of-state student attending a less expensive school. In that case, you are still eligible for financial aid.
Live Like a Resident
If you live with your parents while attending nursing school or college, try to become self-sufficient and live like a resident. This will help you save money, but it should also enable you to pursue your education full-time instead of part-time.
Classify Yourself As an Independent
You may want to contact the financial aid office at your school and ask them to classify you as an “independent.” This will enable you to become eligible for additional types of financial aid that are normally not available to dependent students. The downside is that you will have to provide enough documentation to prove your independence.
Be Smart When Choosing a Nursing Specialty
The least expensive nursing specialties include geriatrics and pediatric nursing. On the other hand, the more expensive specialties include trauma nursing and cardiology. The less costly specialties require less hands-on time, which means you’ll spend less money studying and won’t need to take out a big loan.
Nursing students face two financial obstacles to overcome; paying for college and repaying student debt. Because nursing is a high-demand field with excellent career opportunities paying for school with student debt is very manageable. However, the school you choose to attend and the student loan products you choose will significantly impact the amount of debt you accumulate as a nursing student. In addition, there are several things that you can do to avoid student debt altogether.
Above all else, make sure that you fully explore your options with financial aid before committing to a school. It is best to attend a school that you can afford based on merit aid. In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about student debt, contact your school’s financial aid office!