What is the Cost of Nursing School?

nursing school costs

The major deterrent to most prospective nurses is the cost of nursing school. Costs can range from $6,000 to $150,000 depending on the program, duration, and institution. 

Having prior knowledge of the costs you should expect in nursing school will help you plan yourself better. You’ll know whether to go for traditional or accelerated programs or apply for scholarships or financial aid. 

Most nursing schools also offer accelerated and cost-effective programs for military personnel. Even if you’re not a military member but you work for a professional organization, you can also enjoy tuition reimbursements from your employer, provided they offer them. 

This article will give you a detailed rundown of all the costs you should expect to incur in nursing school and the different ways you can pay for your nursing education. 

Quick read: Top 15 Scholarships for Nursing School Students You Should Know

Nursing School Tuition Costs by Degree

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) Cost 

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs cost between $3,000 and $20,000, depending on the institution. Most ADN programs require you to complete 60 credits of coursework within a two years period. 

This could be why they are the most affordable nursing programs available in nursing schools. 

At public universities, ADN programs cost between $3,000 and $10,000 per annum. That means the overall program might range from $6,000 to $20,000.

However, the same programs cost more at private universities. Most private universities charge up to $40,000 for their ADN programs. 

Some schools charge their tuition based on the credit hours completed. This might range from $50 to $400 per credit, depending on the program and institution.

what is the cost of nursing school

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Cost

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs cost between $20,000 and $80,000. As usual, this depends on the institution attended and the nature of the program. 

Accelerated BSN programs require less time and coursework than traditional BSN programs and, as such, cost less. 

An accelerated BSN program at a public university could cost between $20,000 and $40,000. Private universities will obviously charge more, as the cost might get to $80,000. 

The traditional BSN program, which lasts for four (4) years or more, costs between $35,000 and $120,000. 

A traditional BSN degree at a public university will cost somewhere around $35,000 to $60,000. At a private university, you will be paying between $80,000 and $140,000 for the overall program. 

Traditional BSN degrees comprise about 120 credit hours, and since most schools charge per credit, you should expect to pay between $300 and $1,200 per credit. 

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) Cost

The average cost for a Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) is $48,000 for a public university and over $70,000 for a private, not-for-profit institution. 

Though it takes half the time of a BSN program to be completed, the cost of an MSN is almost the same as a traditional BSN.

The differences in cost might come from the specialty you’re going for and the institution you choose to study it in.

For instance, the cost of an MSN in Nursing Education will surely be different from that of an Advanced Practice Registered Nursing degrees like a CRNA or a CNM. 

Depending on the area you choose to specialize in, you may need to complete between 30 and 60 credit hours for your MSN program.

The cost per credit, as usual, depends on the institution. While some public schools may charge around $300 per credit, some top private schools may charge figures around $2,000. 

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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Cost

The cost of Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs ranges from $17,000 to over $200,000. This depends majorly on your entry point, institution, and specialty. 

If you already have an MSN degree, you’ll surely pay less tuition than someone entering the same program with a BSN degree.

This is because the person with a BSN will have to first complete some MSN courses to meet up with the actual DNP courses. 

As a master’s degree holder, you should expect to complete about 30-50 credit hours of coursework, while a BSN holder will have about 60-80 credits to complete.

The specialty can also determine the number of credits you have to complete. 

Other Costs in Nursing School Apart From Tuition Fees

Tuition does not make up for the entire cost you’ll incur in nursing school. In fact, the major cost challenge most nursing students encounter is hidden costs. 

By hidden, I mean, they do not have definite values. Items like your scrub, toolbox, shoes, head wrap, books, etc., have varying costs almost every time. 

Here are some “hidden” costs you should prepare for as you begin your nursing school journey:   

1. Cost of uniforms and accessories

You will need to have your nursing school lab and clinical uniforms ready as you begin your nursing education. While most schools make provisions for this and bill you the due amount, others will just show you samples and ask you to make your own. 

You will also need important accessories like a stethoscope, scissors, a penlight, and a school bag. 

These items can cost you between $200 and $700. For instance, a standard quality stethoscope from Littmann can cost you somewhere around $100, while a set of scrubs can be gotten for less than $50. And you may need to have more than a set of these items for ease of usage and durability. 

2. Health costs

As a nursing student, it would be hypocritical if you didn’t take your health seriously. That’s why most schools make it mandatory that you provide up-to-date health certificates at different intervals. 

You’ll be required to run drug screening tests, background health checks, TB tests, and even take important booster shots. All these things cost money, and it isn’t the school that will foot the bill for you. 

You should budget between $200 and $500 for these.  

3. Book expenses

An investment in books is one sure way to guarantee yourself a successful nursing school education. And the truth is, nursing school books aren’t cheap. You could spend something close to a thousand dollars on books for a semester. 

While the majority of the books might be under a hundred dollars, there are certain books you’d buy for over $100. 

4. Transportation costs

Transportation costs are one unavoidable cost you’ll incur in nursing school. Even if you run an online nursing program, you’d need to leave your house to attend clinical sessions. 

So, whether you have your own vehicle or you use a public transport system, you will incur costs running upwards of $500 a semester. 

5. Childcare costs

If you’re a parent, you’ll need to make plans for your child or children’s care as you enroll in nursing school. During clinical sessions, classes, exams, and even study times, you’d need to assign professional and trusted child care to your kids. 

Believe me, that does not come cheap. At the minimum, you should budget between $500 and $1200 for that in a semester. 

6. Decreased income

This is a sort of indirect cost. Nursing school means fewer work hours, and that ultimately results in less income for you. 

The cost of choosing nursing school overdoing your daily job is something you should put into consideration. However, some nursing programs will afford you the opportunity to work while you are schooling. 

7. Cost of NCLEX Exam and Test Prep

After nursing school, you’ll need to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before you can get the permit to work. 

The cost of the NCLEX-RN is $200, and you may also need to take preparatory and review courses for the examination. These preparation and review courses could cost between $30 and $300. 

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Ways to Pay for Nursing School

It is normal to worry about how to finance your nursing school education but to be frank, that won’t solve the problem. 

If you sit down to strategically plan ways to pay for your nursing education, you’d be amazed by the volume of options available to you. 

Here are some ways to pay for your nursing education: 

1. Scholarships

There are individuals and organizations that are willing to offer you full or partial coverage of your nursing school costs. However, you need to meet certain conditions to be eligible for these scholarships. 

You can search for these scholarships on online platforms. Some schools also display available scholarship opportunities on their websites. 

You can apply for scholarships at any time, whether before or during your program. Just make sure you meet the selection criteria, and you’ll have a fair advantage. 

2. Financial Aid

Most schools offer financial aid in the form of student loans to their students. There are private and federal loans available to you. You just have to make sure you’re eligible before applying. 

It is also important that you study the repayment plans available to know if you can meet them. Studying important metrics like the interest rate, repayment schedules, and other factors will help you know how much you will be paying back and how much time you have to do so. This will help you choose the financial aid that suits you.  

3. Nursing Tuition Reimbursement

If you work, your employer might have plans to help you pay for further education. Most hospitals have systems in place to ensure their workers attain better education to ensure better output. 

Some healthcare organizations will require you to take the bold step of starting and completing your program. After that, your full education costs will be reimbursed. 

Before you begin your program, you should check with your employer to see if they have systems in place for career and skills development. And if they do, what does it take to qualify for them? 

3. Military Service

Military groups have educational opportunities in place for their members. Healthcare is an important skill in the military. Most military groups ensure they have the best medical practitioners. So you should know, that interest in upgrading your medical skills will be welcomed.

As a military person, you should check with your branch head to know the options available to you and how you can lay claim to them. 

4. Work-Study Programs

Work-study arrangements help you finance your nursing education through a part-time working plan. The government provides part-time, less tedious jobs for you as you study. 

As a nursing student, you might be required to take part-time jobs in hospitals, care homes, or any other healthcare facility. To ensure your results are not affected, you have to learn proper time management to prioritize the important things. 

This work-study program is organized by the government as a part of your financial aid package to help you pay off your student loans. 

5. Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated nursing programs come with a reduced credit load and, with it, reduced costs. Lowering your required credit hours means you can earn your degree in less time, which can help bring nursing school costs down. 

6. Nursing Loan Forgiveness

The student loan forgiveness program is another way to pay for your nursing school education. However, not all loans are eligible for loan forgiveness. 

You should check with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program or the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Programs to know which loans are eligible to be forgiven. 

You should also check for state student loan forgiveness programs and their eligibility criteria.

Conclusion on the Cost of Nursing School

Nursing is one of the most expensive professions in the world, but because it is among the most demanded professions in the world, it is worth every penny you invest in it. Nursing students from top nursing schools are almost guaranteed profitable job positions after graduation. 

Knowing what to expect from your nursing education will help you plan your education well. I hope this article has done well to reveal to you all the known and hidden costs of nursing school. 

From the information provided here, you’d make adequate provision for your nursing school tuition and other costs. You’d also be able to properly plan for repayments if you used any form of financial aid. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing School Costs

What is the Cheapest Nursing School in the USA?

Stony Brook University, with a tuition fee of $2,785 per semester, is the cheapest nursing school in the USA. 
Stony Brook University is a public research university that offers nursing students the opportunity to be involved in important clinical research programs. It is the official New York University at stony brook, New York.

What is the Cost of Being a Registered Nurse?

The ADN pathway to being a registered nurse costs between $3,000 and $20,000, while the BSN pathway costs between $20,000 and $120,000. 

Are There Free Nursing Schools in the USA? 

There are schools in the USA that offer tuition-free nursing programs. Examples of such schools are Berea College, City College of San Francisco, College of Ozarks, Alice Lloyd College, etc. 

What Will It Cost an International Student to Study Nursing in the United States?

International students pay around $32,000-$60,000 per year, depending on the university and the program. 

How Fast Do Nurses Pay Off Their Loans?

Registered nurses, who earn at least $50,000 and work a minimum of 30 hours a week, can have their loans paid off within three years. 

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