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Arkansas State University

Arkansas-Based RN to BSN for California Nurses

As an increasing number of medical organizations are encouraging registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, many nurses are starting to look into their schooling options. RNs choosing an RN to BSN program typically take two primary factors into consideration: cost and location. This is especially true if students are working full- or part-time jobs and need to find a school with geographic proximity — and one that is still affordable. If location is a big concern, nurses often look for online programs.

California schools regularly promote in-state tuition as a great benefit. In many instances, the out-of-state tuition and fees can be double the cost of in-state. This makes “staying put” a reasonable choice. Yet, opportunities exist outside of California for RNs who are looking to both save money and remain in their home state. Online programs fill this need.

How Does the School Structure Tuition?

When deciding whether it makes sense to attend an in-state school or explore other options, it’s important to fully understand the tuition structure of schools you’re contemplating.

Each school has a unique way of determining tuition. Some apply more weight to a single unit than others, requiring fewer units to complete the program. Others break down requirements into courses or credit hours. Schools will also differentiate full-time versus part-time tracks, which also impacts the tuition per semester.

Watch Out for Unexpected Fees

Many schools — particularly those with on-campus and hybrid programs — charge fees that may not apply to students in an online program. For example, at Sacramento State, students pay mandatory campus fees of $813 per semester, whether they are on the full-time (two semester) or part-time (four semester) track. One such fee is the Intercollegiate Athletics/Spirit Leaders Fee. This fee provides assistance for intercollegiate athletes and spirit leaders. The total for this fee alone is $150, which might seem excessive for an extracurricular element you may have no interest in.

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) assesses a general fee of $300 per semester among other special fees that cover items like undergraduate applications and laboratory/course fees. Additional expenses common for on-campus programs include health service fees, student union fees, general student body fees and even graduation fees.

It’s also important to investigate whether or not supplemental courses or labs are required for the BSN degree, which may come at an extra cost.

Breaking Down the Costs: A Comparison

It’s easy to see how choosing the best option for your needs can get confusing or overwhelming. Determining the load you can handle and uncovering hidden or unexpected fees are two essential steps to take before you make your decision.

Here is a comparison of four California schools versus Arkansas State University, an out-of-state option for California nurses that the online format makes accessible.

Sacramento State (hybrid)

33 Units

2-Semester Program

Total $7,368 (Including $1,626 in Mandatory Fees)

Fresno State  (online)

21 Units

3-Semester Program

Total $8,677.50 (NOT Including Fees)

San Diego State University             (on campus)

26 Nursing Units + 9 Gen Ed

12-15 Month Program

Total Tuition + Additional Expenses Estimated $13,000

Point Loma Nazarene University (hybrid)

36 Units/13 Courses

15+ Month Program

Total Tuition $18,000 (Including Fees, Courses, Textbooks)

Arkansas State University        (100% online)

33 Credit Hours/11 Courses

12+ Month Program

Total Tuition $8,514 (Including Fees)

As you can see, PLNU is significantly more expensive than similar programs at other schools, with a $500 per unit cost of 36 required units. San Diego State University’s additional expenses are an estimate and cover transportation, books and supplies, and personal items.

Is Attendance On Campus Required?

One thing not noted in this chart is that SDSU’s living expenses, should one wish to live on campus, are estimated to be almost $18,000. Even if you live off campus, the cost of living in Southern California may be prohibitive.

While all of the California schools in this comparison offer some online instruction, in-person courses are also required. At SDSU, classes meet weekly. Fresno State offers courses online, except for one 90-minute clinical course in community health nursing which is only available in the Fresno State service area.

Sacramento State requires approximately 30% of coursework to be face to face, so even though it may appear to be the most affordable option in this comparison, attendance has to be factored in.

Alternatively, schools like Arkansas State provide 100% online instruction with no campus visits required, making this type of program both convenient and affordable.

Earning your BSN is an investment in your future, but it doesn’t have to be one that puts you into debt for years to come. By assessing the various cost differences and online opportunities, you may discover that attending a local-to-you program in California doesn’t always make the most financial sense.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online RN to BSN program.


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