Grants for Nursing Students

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If you are a recent high school graduate, contemplating your vocational future, consider nursing- it might provide the solid career path you are looking for. The profession is under-served, especially in certain areas of the country.  As a result, you won’t have difficulty finding a job following graduation, and you’ll receive considerable financial help during school.

To stimulate enrollment in nursing-related studies and foster a steady stream of highly educated professionals entering the workforce, several government and private agencies initiate scholarships and grants for nursing students.  Applying your college education to post-graduate employment is not always automatic these days, so choosing a profession that needs your passion and skill makes certain sense.

Federal Grants for Nursing Studentsnursing grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, division of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) sponsors a handful of valuable grants specifically for nursing students:

  • Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students is a federally funded scholarship program that grants money to participating colleges, to be distributed among qualified students who are pursuing postsecondary education in health science fields. Grant money is made available to full-time students who are financially needed and/or coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.  U.S Department of Health and Human Services defines a disadvantaged individual as one coming from an environment that has inhibited his or her ability to obtain the proper training to pursue health science education. Under this program, schools hold discretionary power for determining which students will receive grants, and how much they will receive.  Awards may not exceed the total cost of attending school.  Eligibility is drawn from a wide range of specialties, including veterinary medicine, dentistry, occupational therapy, optometry and nursing. Students must apply directly to their school’s financial aid office and U.S. citizenship is required for participation.
  • Nursing Scholarship Program administers more than 200 scholarships/grant awards to qualifying nursing students each year. To be eligible, candidates must agree to work for a period of 2 years following graduation in Health Profession Shortage Areas, at Critical Shortage Facilities. In exchange for service commitments, grant recipients receive generous assistance including fully paid tuition, fees, books and lab materials, in addition to monthly stipends that exceed $1,000 per student. Preferential consideration is given to full-time applicants exhibiting the greatest levels of financial need. Eligibility is open to students at associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and diploma levels-provided that studies are undertaken at accredited schools.  To address the need for highly trained Nurse Practitioners, one-half of 2012 grant awards are reserved for master’s level nursing students.
  • Nursing Education Loan Repayment is a government sponsored repayment program that supports the role of working nurses within the health care field, particularly those working in Health Profession Shortage Areas. Registered Nurses and advanced practice RNs applying for the Nursing Education Loan Repayment program must agree to work for at least 2 years at Critical Shortage Facilities.  In exchange for a two-year service commitment, the U.S. Government will pay 60% of any outstanding student loans that relate to the candidates nursing education. To be eligible, an applicant must retain the proper licenses and be employed full-time.  For an additional third year of service, a program participant earns another 25% loan repayment, for a total of 85% of his or her outstanding nursing student loans. Nurses who benefit from the program will be undergraduate or graduate degree holders who have outstanding nursing school debt and clean repayment records.
  • Faculty Loan Repayment Program is a federally funded program that helps disadvantaged faculty in the health care professions-including nursing, repay student loan debt. Eligible disciplines include pharmacy, public health, optometry, audiology, physicians assistant and nursing.  Applicants must have completed undergraduate work, and either be enrolled in a graduate health professions program or completing their last year of graduate work in a health-related field.  The maximum benefit awarded to a single student is $40,000 in loan repayment.  In exchange for this grant, participants agree to serve as faculty members at approved health professions colleges and universities.  Qualifying candidates must be identified as coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, requiring undue economic or environmental circumstances.  Full-time faculty receive priority consideration, but part-timers are also compensated on a prorated basis.
  • Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program is a federally funded nursing student loan repayment program that is administered by the Indian Health Service (IHS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nurses, at all professional levels, who agree to practice full-time at IHS funded Indian health programs, may qualify for up to $20,000 each year for qualified student loan repayment.  To be considered for this grant, an initial two-year service commitment requirement must be met.  The program’s stated function is to improve health status among Native American and Alaskan Native populations.  By accepting this funding, you agree to further the IHS mission by working within the parameters of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
  • Military funding is available for nurse candidates through programs like the Army Nurse Corps.  Active duty nurses are eligible for loan repayment programs totaling $120,000, as well as grants for continuing education that provide for advanced training.  Sign-up bonuses and special pay for advanced nursing degree holders are also offered for active duty and reserve officer/nurses.

State-funded Grants for Nursing Students

According to the American Nurses Association‘s (ANA) latest report on “State Legislative Trends,” the push is on among many state governments to repair the nursing profession. Efforts address: fundamental lack of faculty at accredited nursing schools, general lack of facility resources, shortages of well-trained nurses in under-served health care areas and diminished funding incentives to bring high-school graduates into vocational training programs for nurses.

The report shows that 38 states have now established vigorous state-funded grant and student loan programs that specifically provide support for nursing education. States that have ramped up grant offerings provide funds for qualified nursing school candidates who attend state schools.  For example:

  • Florida’s state schools have one of the more powerful nursing education funding programs, especially after 4 state universities were awarded HRSA grants for Advanced Education Nursing Grants: Florida Atlantic University, University of Florida-Gainesville, University of Miami, and the University of South Florida.
  • The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority administers between 300 and 400 awards as part of the Nurse Scholars Program. These are merit-based awards and recipients are eligible to receive scholarship funds up to $6,000. Eligible candidates must be enrolled full-time in a state-accredited two-year or four-year undergraduate or graduate nursing program.
  • Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program (WSSAG) applies to students pursuing careers in specific fields that are experiencing shortages of highly trained workers.  The nursing portion of the grant program was formally known as the State Nursing Scholarship and Living Expenses Grant, but has been consolidated under the WSSAG umbrella.  Apply to the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
  • Indiana Division of Student Financial Aid offers a tuition for service arrangement for nursing school students, wherein up to $5000 is awarded in exchange for a two-year service commitment upon graduation.  Recipients must work as LPNs or RNs providing direct patient care in approved Indiana medical facilities like hospitals, long-term care sites, and hospice programs.

Grants for Minority Nursing Students

To help shore up nursing school enrollment numbers and promote educational diversity, some nursing school grants strive to increase minority representation in nursing and health science majors.  Underrepresented groups enjoy access to nursing grants funded by government and private sector sources.

  • Arizona State University sponsors American Indian Students United for Nursing. This tuition for service program provides funding for Native American students willing to commit to service with Indian Health Services: A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services entity that provides access to health care for Native Americans. The program provides money for tuition and expenses for bachelor’s and master’s level students.
  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) provides nursing school funding for Hispanic Americans who are members of the organization for at least six months prior to applying.  Similarly, the National Black Nurses Association furthers nursing education by providing funding to qualifying members.

Institutional and Organizational Aid for Nursing Studentsaid

Professional nursing organizations and individual institutions of higher learning provide financial aid for nursing school candidates. To be eligible, most nursing schools require that you file for federal financial aid by submitting your FAFSA, but each school’s requirements are different.  Consult with your financial aid office or your nursing school department head for precise instructions.

Washington State University – College of Nursing Scholarship - To qualify for school-sponsored aid at WSU, you must first file your FAFSA, to generate your Student Aid Report (SAR). To apply, submit your SAR alongside your WSU Financial Aid Award Letter.  A letter of recommendation must also be submitted with your Nursing Scholarship application, originating from a College of Nursing instructor or previous employer who can attest to your commitment and abilities within the nursing profession.

Penn State University maintains this list of financial aid resources for nursing students matriculating at the famed Pennsylvania school.

Bob and Eleanor Grant Trust Fund provides up to $15,000 each year for students who have reached the halfway point in their natural sciences education.  Applicants must be first-generation students living in Washington State whose parents did not complete college.

American Association of Men in Nursing (AAMN) facilitates male nursing education by administering grants and scholarships, when funds are available.  Essay contests on the topic: “How Have I Contributed to the Nursing Profession as a Male Nurse,” led to six unrestricted nursing school grants in 2012.

Professional Grants for Nursing Students

Nursing students pursuing advanced education within certain specialties have additional access to grant and scholarship funds through professional organizations and associations. Research grants and fellowships are also offered by individual colleges through alumni endowments and foundations.

For the most comprehensive grant discovery, contact these and other specialty associations; and consult with your university’s nursing program for school-specific opportunities:

  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists extends three research-based grants annually to nurse anesthetists. Applicants must be CRNA-certified and members of the AANA to qualify.
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners – initiates research grants that support nurse practitioners.
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses – the organization’s Educational Advancement Scholarship grants awards in the amount of $1500 each to undergraduate and graduate nurses specializing in critical care. Recipients must be members of the AACN to participate. Minority nursing students regularly receive a quarter of the scholarships.
  • Emergency Nurses Foundation Association offers annual scholarships to multiple ER nurses nationwide. Amounts of the awards vary based on available sponsorship funding. Candidates are undergraduate, graduate and doctoral nursing students.
  • Gerontological Society of America extends scholarships and grants to graduate level nurses completing research in areas associated with human aging.


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