If you want to graduate with fewer loans, your best option is to apply for as many nursing scholarships as possible. Read below to learn more about how nursing scholarships work, where to find them and how to maximize your chances of winning. A survey conducted by the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA) found that about 70% of nursing students graduated with student loans. The average total debt for a nursing student currently ranges from $19,928 for an associate degree to $47,321 for a Master’s degree.
What is a nursing scholarship?
A nursing scholarship is an award given to an incoming or current undergraduate, graduate or professional nursing student. Scholarships may be given by professional organizations, non-profit organizations or directly through the school. Additionally, some private, for-profit organizations offer nursing scholarships.
Nursing scholarships may cover tuition, room and board and other education-related expenses. Scholarships may be given for one year or may renew for several years, and the annual amount will depend on the scholarship provider.
How to apply for a nursing scholarship
The application process for a nursing scholarship is similar to many other scholarships. First, you should start the research process as soon as possible. Note any scholarships that you might be eligible for and use a spreadsheet to organize the deadlines and any pertinent requirements. Set reminders on your calendar to note when the applications are due.
If the scholarship requires a recommendation letter, decide who to ask and give them at least a few weeks’ notice to write the Letter of Recommendation (LOR) and possibly offer them a sort of “template” to limit the amount of time they will be required to invest. Most likely they will have some experience writing such letters, but if you don't ask far enough in advance, they may not have time to accommodate you. Start working on the essay as soon as possible so you have enough time to write a draft, ask for edits from a trusted source and work on revisions.
Frequently asked questions about nursing scholarships
When can I apply for nursing scholarships?
There is no set season for nursing scholarship applications, and the exact deadline for nursing scholarships can vary. Set aside time each month to review new scholarship opportunities and figure out how to apply. You can sign up for notifications from scholarship websites to find out when new awards are posted.
How can I maximize my chances of winning a scholarship?
You can improve the odds of winning a nursing scholarship by following the scholarship guidelines carefully. Many students hurt their chances by not reviewing the requirements and submitting the application after the deadline.
Can I get a full ride to nursing school?
While a single, "full-ride" scholarship is not very common, it is certainly possible to find and apply for a number of available scholarships. Also, there are other scholarships you will qualify for that are not specifically intended for nursing school but that can be used to get your nursing degree.
For example, the March of Dimes Graduate Nursing Scholarship is available for graduate level students and they offer a Nursing Diversity Scholarship for historically underrepresented undergraduate students.
Do I need to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for a scholarship?
You should definitely complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) regardless of your major or the type of scholarships you feel you are best qualified for. For example, the Nellie Martin Carman Scholarship asks for proof that students have submitted the FAFSA. Also, internal awards directly given by the school may require that students complete the FAFSA. You can contact the school's financial aid department to see what their specific rules are.
Even if the FAFSA is not required, completing it will make you eligible for federal student loans, work-study and grants, including the Pell Grant. Also, many states mandate that you complete the FAFSA to be eligible for their own grants. In general, all students should complete the FAFSA, even if they don’t think they will qualify for need-based aid.
Can I get a nursing scholarship as a graduate or doctoral student?
While there are usually more nursing scholarships for undergraduate students, graduate and doctoral students can still find plenty of scholarship opportunities.
Are nursing scholarships based on financial need?
Like other kinds of awards, some nursing scholarships may only be given to students with demonstrated financial need. However, there are also plenty of opportunities for students who do not qualify based on their family’s financial status. Read through the scholarship description to determine if need is a factor.