Nursing School & Grant Options

A grant is a type of financial aid awarded on an economic need basis instead of a merit basis. Grants are great things for nursing students to check out since odds are you’ll be able to qualify for at least one and make your path to your nursing qualification that much smoother!

Nursing school can be pretty expensive (believe me, I lived it!), but grants can help to make the expenses a lot more tolerable and even help you complete your schooling more quickly. Lots of people are limited in how quickly they can attend nursing school just because of their budget.

With enough grants in your account, you might be able to get your nursing degree and qualifications more quickly, then start your career faster than you would be able to otherwise. How cool is that?

Grants vs Scholarships

Here’s the thing. Lots of people will talk about grants and scholarships as if they are the exact same thing. But they’re definitely not. While they both help students pay for college, scholarships are awarded based on merit, whether that’s athletic merit or academic merit.

On the other hand, grants are awarded based on financial merit. As need-based financial aid options, you can apply for and qualify for grants even if you don’t have a lot of extracurricular activities in your history or your grades at the best. They’re for everyone!

But grants also usually have strings attached. Many scholarships are given out as pure cash once you qualify. When you qualify for a grant, you often have to agree to work in certain areas or for certain facilities for a year or two. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on where you want to work as a nurse and where you currently live.

Another big difference between scholarships and grants is the source of their funding. Scholarships are usually funded by organizations, like charities or schools. Grants are funded by the federal or state governments, with a few rare exceptions. If you pursue a state-funded grant, you’ll usually only qualify if you pursue an education in nursing in that state.

Bottom line: don’t worry too much if you don’t have great high school grades or if you didn’t make the football team. You’ll probably still qualify for at least a few grants if you don’t have enough money to pay for school out-of-pocket.

How Can Grants Help You Complete Nursing School?

By helping you pay for it! It’s that simple.

But to be more specific, grants can help you finish your nursing school in one of two ways.

Paying for School

Some grants are only awarded to individuals who are about to or are still attending school who need help paying for it outright. These grants are intended to be used when to pay for the following semester of school, not when you have already taken out student loans.

Repaying School Loans

The other type of grant is intended to repay your school loans. These can be applied for and received after you’ve graduated or be used while you are in the middle of school and already have some loans under your belt.

Either way, both types of grants can be hugely helpful if you’re like most nursing students and don’t have the ability to pay for your nursing classes in cash.

Average Cost of Nursing School

So, just how much financial help will you need if you decide to go to nursing school? It depends on things like:

  • Whether you already have a degree or some education
  • Where you plan to attend school
  • Whether you will attend in person or online
  • And more

All told, tuition fees for a regular bachelor’s degree in nursing can run you from anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000. That’s per year, by the way! So the costs can definitely add up pretty quickly.

It’s because of this that I heavily recommend you check out all the available grants for nursing students, even if you aren’t particularly hurting for money. Almost everyone could use some help paying for nursing school, even though your future career is sure to make you plenty of money to pay off any student loans!

Examples of Grants for Nursing Students

Good news – there are tons (and I mean tons) of different grants for nursing students you should check out. Here’s a list of some of the best of the best that I’d recommend you investigate right away.

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is one of the most well-known grants in the country. It’s awarded to thousands of students every year, but especially to students whose families have incomes lower than $25,000 a year.

If you’re looking to get into an undergraduate or certificate program, the Pell Grant is the way to go. Nursing students at the beginning of their educational pathway should apply for this ASAP as they are in the group most likely to be awarded the grant.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

Ignore the name of the program – this collection of financial aid opportunities includes both scholarships and grants, not just the former. It’s a perfect pick for students who want to pursue post-secondary education in health sciences like nursing. In other words, nurses interested in full-time schooling while trying to get a bachelor’s degree or higher should definitely check out this option.

Note that for this program you have to count as “disadvantaged”. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, any disadvantaged individual is someone who “comes from an environment that inhibited his or her ability to obtain training” in health science education.

Nursing Scholarship Program

As with the above program, ignore the title. This program includes grants as well as scholarships (over 200 in total, so there’s something for everyone!). But it only provides grants to qualified nursing students, so your odds of receiving a grant are much higher than with some other options.

Keep in mind that, if you want to qualify for this grant, you have to agree to work for at least 2two years after graduation in “Health Profession Shortage Areas”. These are places where clinics and other medical facilities need new nurses desperately.

On the plus side, these are great areas to gain nursing experience and buff up your resume. On the downside, they may force you to relocate. So these grants may be a good choice for young nurses who won’t mind moving to another city after graduation.

Nursing Education Loan Repayment

As this program’s name suggests, it’s perfect for repaying student loans as a working nurse. As with the above program, you’ll have a higher likelihood of getting this grant if you work in a Health Profession Shortage Area.

It’s a federally funded program and requires a two-year service commitment. In exchange, you get 60% of any outstanding student loans paid off – that’s a ton of money! If you decide to serve for a third year, you’ll get another 25% of your loans repaid for a total of 85% off. There are few grant programs that are as potentially worthwhile as this one!

Military Grants – Army Nurse Corps and More

Many people join the military because of the economic benefits, and nurses are no different. The military provides a variety of nursing grants. The Army Nurse Corps is just one example, but keep in mind that all the branches have their own programs. In the Army program, any active duty nurses are automatically eligible for loan repayment grants that can total up to $120,000.

Yes, you read that right; the Army might pay for your entire nursing education if you serve in the military for a few years during and after your college.

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

This federally funded loan repayment program is a great choice if you agree to practice at specially funded Indian health programs. Should you qualify for this grant, you’ll get up to $20,000 each year for any qualifying student loan repayments.

The requirements make sense since the entire goal of this program is to boost the health among Native American and Alaskan native populations. As with many of the other grant programs here, this can be a great way to get experience and use your nursing knowledge in a practical, helpful way.

State-Specific Programs

Many states have specific programs funded by their local governments. Here are a couple of examples.

Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program

This Maryland program is perfect for students that are pursuing careers in nursing. You can apply for it at the Maryland Higher Education Commission website.

Indiana Division of Student Financial Aid

Indiana fields a similar program, offering a tuition-for-service arrangement. In a nutshell, agree to serve for two years in the state of Indiana at certain locations and you’ll get $5000. You have to work as an RN or LPN and provide direct patient care at a variety of approved medical facilities, like hospitals and hospices.


How Do You Get Started on Applying for Grants?

To start applying for any grants, you first have to fill out the FAFSA. You should be doing that already since it’s the core document that qualifies you for any form of financial aid. The FAFSA is what the government uses to determine your economic status and see whether you need aid.

Should You Try to Get Grants and Scholarships?

Absolutely! There’s nothing stopping you from applying for both grants and scholarships. Many enterprising nursing students (I knew a few when I was at school, so this really works!) can pay for their entire nursing education through grants and scholarships if they are aggressive enough about applying.

Do You Need to Use Grants?

Not at all. If you are comfortable enough paying for nursing school without aid, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the grants for other students who may need the financial assistance more.

Do You Ever Have to Pay a Grant Back?

Sometimes. Many grants have conditions that stipulate you have to graduate from school or maintain a minimum level of academic success. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the grant back over time like a loan.


All in all, nursing school can be made much more accessible through grants. is a great resource for you to not only find top nursing programs in your area, but also to find schools with grant programs or low tuition rates. I’d highly recommend checking out this resource when determining where you want to go to school to get your nursing license!