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Arkansas State University

How to Finance an Online Nursing Degree

Students pursuing an online nursing degree can finance their education a number of ways. Not only do they have all the standard higher education financing options at their disposal, students working toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are also eligible for nursing scholarships and other aid programs designed specifically for nursing students.

FAFSA and an Online Nursing Degree

The first step in virtually every form of government-based higher education financing is to complete the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) on the Federal Student Aid website. This is when you will find out if you qualify for any federal grants or loans, which depends on the financial status of you or your family. If your income level is too high for federal grants or loans, you may still finance your degree through private loan options.

Repayment Assistance and Loan Forgiveness

One of the bonuses of a nursing career is that some positions are eligible for full or partial tuition assistance. For example, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) repays loans in 30 states for primary care providers who work in Health Professional Shortage Areas for at least two years. A wide variety of different nurses work in these shortage areas, including primary care nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, registered nurses and psychiatric nurse specialists. Similarly, the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program will pay off 60 percent of unpaid education loans for nurses who work for two years in underserved areas.

There is one other program that will help with federal student loans: the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Nurses who work for any government agency or not-for-profit organization are eligible for student loan forgiveness after 120 qualifying monthly payments.

Private Healthcare Provider Options

There are too many hospitals offering some form of tuition reimbursement or loan forgiveness for online nursing degrees to list them all. However, some of the biggest, most prestigious healthcare institutions in the country are also some of the most generous. These include names like the Mayo Clinic, Northwest Community Hospital, Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center, Yakima Valley Memorial, and Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital.

Nursing Scholarships

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program mentioned above also has a scholarship program. Again, it is tied to serving in areas that are suffering a shortage of nurses, so students need to commit to two years of service after they graduate.

There is also a wide range of private nursing scholarships — both large and small — to help students complete their degree programs. These are funded by groups as diverse as

  • Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates
  • United Daughters of the Confederacy
  • Alpha Tau Delta Professional Fraternity for Nurses
  • Health Occupations Students of America
  • Barry & Julia Smith Family Nurse Scholarship Program
  • Harold B. & Dorothy A. Snyder Scholarships
  • American Quarter Horse Foundation
  • The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
  • Infusion Nursing Society
  • National Gerontological Nurses Association

Students considering an online nursing degree should also look into scholarships offered by groups or organizations they may already be affiliated with. While these organizations may not specifically offer nursing scholarships, they may offer general support that you can apply to your nursing education.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online RN to BSN program.


State Loan Repayment Program FAQs. (n.d.). Retrieved from

5 Top Hospitals That Will Pay for Your Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from


Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved from

General Nursing Scholarships. (n.d.). Retrieved from


NURSE Corps Scholarship Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from


NURSE Corps Scholarship Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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