How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

If you are thinking about attending an ABSN program, you’ve probably been asking how much does nursing school cost? Expenses include prerequisite costs, tuition, program fees and supply costs. Federal and private loans as well as scholarships are just some of the ways to pay for nursing school expenses.

calculator and stethoscope sitting on desk

No matter where you study nursing, attending a nursing program will be a hefty financial investment. How much does nursing school cost? It’s tough to put an exact price tag on this type of education because every school and program is different. There are, however, common costs many ABSN programs share. Let’s see what these costs are and how you can go about financing your accelerated nursing education.

1. Prerequisite Courses

You’d be hard-pressed to find an ABSN program that didn’t have any prerequisite course requirements. We’ve seen nursing schools that require as many as 10 and as few as four prerequisites, which means you’re dipping into your bank account before you even apply to nursing school. We recommend looking at programs that accept college credit transfers. Especially if you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, some of your previous courses may cover one or more of your prerequisites. Be sure to speak with admissions staff from your prospective schools to see if you can apply previous coursework.

2. Tuition Costs

When asking how much does nursing school cost, the first thing that comes to mind is probably tuition. This will likely be your largest expense when it comes to paying for nursing school. We’ve seen ABSN program tuition costs that range between $50,000 and $76,000. Keep in mind that some nursing schools have different in-state and out-of-state tuition costs. We recommend looking at lesser-known schools because they seem to be among the most affordable ― just make sure the ABSN program is accredited.

3. Program Fees

Aside from tuition, you must also consider the various fees associated with an ABSN program, which can sometimes add up to more than $1,000. For example, many schools charge technology fees, lab fees, student activity fees and graduation fees. We recommend asking whatever nursing school you’re interested in for an itemized list of program fees so they don’t sneak up on you unexpectedly.

4. Supply Costs

nurse using laptop at desk

As an ABSN student, you’ll gain hands-on experience in both a lab and clinical setting, which means you need to have the right supplies to keep you on top of your game. Plan to purchase books, a stethoscope, scrubs, a penlight, nursing shears, a clipboard, compression socks and an NCLEX study guide. We recommend doing some price comparison shopping.

Consider Your Income

It’s worth mentioning that being in an ABSN program will feel like holding down a full-time job. That’s why very few students work while earning their nursing degrees. Unless you’re independently wealthy, it’s important to budget your money and stretch every dollar as far as you can while in school.

If you still need some form of income during school, you can earn extra cash without taking away from your studies by babysitting, doing temp work or taking consumer surveys on websites.

Finance Your Education

If you’re like most nursing students, you’ll have to finance your education in one form or another. To help pay for nursing school, you can apply for a federal loan, a private loan and/or a third-party scholarship.

Federal Student Aid

Given the various low-interest loan options available through the U.S. Department of Education, we encourage you, no matter your income level, to apply for financial aid by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — it’s the only way to know what type of loan you’re qualified to receive. There are four types of federal student aid:

  1. Subsidized loans are available to eligible undergraduates who demonstrate a financial need. Loan amount varies by student need. Interest begins to accrue after a student graduates or leaves school.
  2. Unsubsidized loans are available to eligible undergraduates regardless of financial need. Interest begins to accrue after the first loan disbursement occurs.
  3. Nursing student loans are available to undergraduate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate financial need and meet priority filing deadlines.
  4. Parent PLUS loans are available to eligible parents of dependent undergraduate students. Borrowing parent must have a good credit history and apply for the loan on a yearly basis.

Private Loans

More times than not, federal student aid will not cover the total cost of attending an ABSN program. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research private lenders, such as banks or credit unions, and try to borrow from an institution with low-interest rates and good terms.

With private loans, you can choose a fixed interest rate (stays the same) or a variable interest rate (fluctuates). It’s also a good idea to see what type of borrower protection a lender offers, such as flexible repayment plans or payment deferral.

Because private loans are credit based, it’s important to know your credit score. If you have poor credit, you’re likely to pay a higher interest rate than you would with a federal loan. You may even need a co-signer on your loan.

Before applying for a private loan, you should complete a FAFSA to see if you have any remaining federal student loan eligibility. It’s a good idea to exhaust your federal student loan limits prior to applying for a private loan. Also, make sure you get accepted into nursing school before asking to borrow money.

Doctor with tablet computer.

Third-Party Scholarships

Out of these three options for paying for nursing school, scholarships should be your first option because, unlike loans, you won’t have to pay that money back. Most nursing schools don’t offer scholarships for ABSN programs, but you can still pursue award-based funding through a third party. These types of scholarships have different criteria, usually reflecting the values and/or purposes of the donor or founder of the award. Here are some scholarship sites that we recommend checking out:

Need Help Finding a Nursing School?

Now that you have an answer to your question of how much does nursing school cost, you can begin preparing yourself financially for this endeavor. While the cost may seem high upfront, investing in your education is one of the best things you can do not only for your long-term financial situation, but also for yourself and your career.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree or some college credits outside of nursing, we can connect you with the best ABSN programs based on your qualifications. Simply complete our online form and expect to be contacted directly by applicable nursing schools.

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Ready to start your nursing journey?