When we consider any major purchase or endeavor, the first thing most of us want to know is how much it will cost. Can we finance it, and if so, how? We also want to know how much time and effort will go into the endeavor. What help will we find along the way? Finally, we want to know about the return on investment.
The cost of a college education is steadily rising, and a four-year degree is increasingly the minimum requirement for well-paying jobs. As a result, many prospective students want to know about the costs of that education — tuition, books, etc. A 2015 article in Money magazine reports that tuition is rising faster than inflation, and unfortunately, this is not a new trend.
Many nurses were able to avoid the costs of a four-year degree by earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which is the minimum educational requirement to become an RN. However, that, too, is changing.
Many hospitals and other healthcare organizations are now requiring ADNs to complete a bachelor’s degree program. If you are in this situation, you likely want to complete the degree as affordably as possible.
Through this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the common questions about the financial aspects of going through an RN to BSN online program at Arkansas State.
How Much Does the RN to BSN at A-State Cost?
Because RN to BSN students already have some credit hours from their diplomas or associate degrees, they don’t need to take the entire 121 credit hours required to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most ADN-prepared RNs will only need 36 hours to graduate; however, it does vary by student. At a cost of $269 per credit hour, this comes to approximately $9,288. Many of the things we buy — especially big-ticket items — include hidden fees, but this is not the case with A-State’s RN to BSN program. The cost of tuition includes administrative fees.
|Per Credit Hour||Per Class||Degree*|
* Depending on transferrable hours. May require more than 36 hours to complete the RN to BSN.
Some additional fees may apply such as a graduation fee ($60) and clinical costs such as skin tests, proof of CPR certification, malpractice insurance and a background check.
How Can I Finance My Degree?
Luckily, there are many ways for students to finance their education, and many of these options don’t include taking on substantial debt. Two of the best options are scholarships and federal aid.
The great thing about scholarships is that you don’t have to pay them back. Some students may wonder if there are enough scholarships, and according to according to U.S. News and World Report, there are a lot of them: “More than $2.7 billion in scholarships and education assistance has been awarded to more than 1.8 million students since 1958.”
Further, according to Dawn Reiss in Tips for Online Students Seeking Scholarships, prospective students should start looking for scholarships early. Put the due dates in your calendar with reminders. Before you start applying for these scholarships, make sure you have everything to you need to include with your application:
- Will you need transcripts for your associate degree?
- Will you need to write an essay?
- What other information will you need?
Prospective students will also want to find out what they need to do to keep their scholarships. Is there a GPA requirement? How many classes do you need to take per term to keep the scholarship? Also, make sure that the scholarships you apply for will work for online courses.
There are many scholarships available to students, and some are even available directly from the university. For example, Arkansas State University offers The Bartels Family Endowed Nursing Scholarship specifically for RN to BSN students. It is a need-based award for Arkansas residents. A-State also has a scholarship for junior- and senior-level nursing students in the BSN or RN to BSN program. This scholarship, Lillian G. & Homer G. Proctor Nursing Scholarship, is available to online students as well as on-campus students. Applicants who are from the Mountain Home area of Arkansas get first preference; second preferences goes to students who wish to serve the elderly.
Students should also consider looking for scholarships from local businesses or their employers. In fact, many employers offer tuition reimbursement. Churches and other faith-based organizations may be another source.
For more help finding scholarships, consider contacting a group like Scholarship America. They provide a wealth of information and offer guidance to students searching for tuition assistance.
Federal Financial Aid
Some students qualify for federal financial aid. Before beginning the process to receive this aid, it’s a good idea to calculate how much money you will need to complete the program. Make sure to factor in the scholarships you’ve been awarded. It’s also a good idea to calculate your payments upon graduation and your expected monthly take-home salary.
Federal student aid may include grants, subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, military service grants and tax credits.
The first step in the financial aid process is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. Next, complete the A-State admission process for the Academic Partnerships program. Finally, monitor your email account for further instructions. You can also check the progress of your application via myCampus under the Self-Service Banner-Financial Aid option. The process typically takes four to six weeks.
How Long Will Does an Online RN to BSN Program Take?
In addition to a financial investment, there is also a time investment to consider when enrolling in an online RN to BSN program. Working nurses are short on time, so they need a fast and flexible program.
A-State students can complete the coursework for the online RN to BSN program in as few as 12 months. To finish the program in one year, students must complete the seven-week courses back-to-back with no breaks and take two courses at a time. Of course, the time it takes to complete the program depends on the classes you took in your associate degree program and how many of those count toward your BSN.
|Per Class Credits||Course Length||Total*|
|3 hours||7 weeks||12 months|
* 6 hours each seven-week semester back-to-back to reach 36 hours.
How Much Time Will I Spend Each Week On Coursework?
The time it takes to complete the assignments depends on a number of factors, including the difficulty of the class, the student’s abilities and preferences, and extracurricular responsibilities. According to Rochelle Kelly, an A-State online RN to BSN graduate, “I would have to work on it for at least two to three hours a night and sometimes on the weekend if I didn’t get enough done. So maybe 20 hours a week.” She adds: “They were really good about pairing time-consuming classes with ones that were not as time consuming.” Kelly completed the program in one year by doubling down on classes.
Time Management Skills for Students in an Online RN to BSN Program
The great thing about online courses is that students have the convenience of taking their classes and doing their coursework whenever it best fits their schedules. This is also one of the major challenges: without a set schedule, students must keep themselves on task. Kelsey Sheehy, in 4 Time Management Tips for Online Students, says “Doing so requires discipline, commitment, and organization — traits any successful student should possess, no matter what path they’re taking to complete their degree.”
Make a Calendar
Sheehy suggests making a plan, and a calendar is crucial to any plan. Go through your syllabus at the beginning of each course and note due dates on your calendar. It’s also a good idea to schedule study time, taking into consideration family, work and other responsibilities. Create reminders for each assignment a few weeks from the due date to make sure there are no last-minute surprises.
Ryan Hickey, Yale graduate and a veteran admissions expert, says in 7 Essential Time Management Tips for Online Students that, “For most of us, school has always meant a structured and regimented environment, and without that scaffolding, the house of cards can threaten to fall down pretty hard.” Distractions of any sort can be serious time-wasters.
He suggests creating a clean, separate space for your studies. Avoid TV, social media and anything else that diverts your attention from the task at hand. Coordinate with your family to establish private study time. For example, ask your spouse to watch the kids during study time, or study after kids go to bed. Tell your friends that you won’t be available while you’re studying.
What Are the Challenges of Online Programs?
In addition to the challenge of time management, there a few other pitfalls to watch out for on the online degree path. Luckily, you can easily avoid these with a few simple tips. Among these challenges are resistance to change, computer literacy and self-motivation.
In 5 Common Problems Faced By Students In eLearning And How To Overcome Them, Sunil Kumar notes that, “Switching from traditional classroom and face to face instructor training to computer-based training in a virtual classroom makes the learning experience entirely different for students.” Many of us are used to the traditional system where we sit passively in class, listening to lectures and taking notes, but online learning is much different. Students must take part in online discussion boards and other new curricular technologies. Kumar suggests approaching “the new learning circumstances with an open mind and heart.” The online discussion boards are great for discussing these issues with fellow students.
Computer Literacy and Support
Some of us are more comfortable with computers than others. Some students may not have the hardware necessary for online coursework, and others may not understand the software. Information and Technology Services team at A-State is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via email and phone to help students with any questions they may have. For students who live close to campus, they offer non-hardware repair at their ITStore. The ITStore also offers “Pack Pricing” on computers and tablets to A-State students. They carry everything from laptops to chargers.
Check In Daily
Besides keeping you engaged, checking in daily can help keep you up-to-date with any changes. Perhaps the due date for an assignment gets adjusted, or maybe the instructor has updated a reading assignment. Using mobile devices, students can check in anywhere, even without their computers.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just because you don’t have face-to-face contact with your instructors doesn’t mean they aren’t available. The instructors at A-State pride themselves on good communication with students. They are available by email, chat and phone. They also hold virtual office hours.
A Cost-Effective Option
The RN to BSN online program at Arkansas State is a great option for ADN-prepared RNs and those with nursing diplomas. Because A-State accepts credit hours from other nursing education institutions, the online bridge program costs less than a full BSN program. With fewer class hours and less time to completion, this program costs students less. Further, because of the online nature of the program, students can continue working while they earn their degrees. Not sacrificing your salary certainly makes earning a bachelor’s degree much more affordable.
Learn more about the A-State online RN to BSN program.
Clark, K. (2015, November 4). College Board Says Tuition Rose Faster Than Inflation Again This Year.
Reiss, Dawn. (2014, August 27). Tips for Online Students Seeking Scholarships.
Pannoni, A. (2015, September 24). Paying for Online Education.
Sheehy, K. (2013, January 13). 4 Time Management Tips for Online Students.
Hickey, R. (2016, April 5). 7 Essential Time Management Tips for Online Students.