Grants and Scholarships for Nursing Students
Universities and colleges have been raising their tuition costs over the years and nursing schools are no exception. Applying for grant or scholarship money is one of the smartest investments a nursing student can make to offset the ever-rising costs of tuition. Learning where to find grant and scholarship money can help decrease a nursing student’s out-of-pocket expenses.
Grants differ from scholarships in that they are from non-profit organizations and require the applicant to explain how they will use the funds. Grants are a cash award from an entity like the U.S. government that supports an endeavor that will impact the country in a positive way. A scholarship is given from any organization for academic excellence or financial need in most cases. Scholarships have three different types: merit-based, need-based, and obligatory service.
Merit-based scholarship applicants submit essays, reference letters from teachers or employers, and sometimes interview with a scholarship committee. The committee then chooses a winner usually based on how the applicant performed academically, improved their community, and what goals they seek to attain.
Need-based scholarships are usually given to members of a group that are under represented in higher education and/or financial need. The application processes for these types of scholarships include submitting financial documents. The groups that are often represented by need-based scholarships are people of a particular ethnic background and people with learning or physical disabilities.
The United States government through all four branches of the military provides obligatory service scholarships. Nursing scholarships are awarded through the National Health Service Corps and Department of Veterans Affairs. One requirement for receiving these scholarships is to serve for specified number of years from the group who awarded the funding.
There are also a number of grants available to nursing students. Depending on what type of degree a student is completing will help to narrow the search of a grant that fits those needs. The Federal Pell Grant provides up to $5,550 per year. The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) provides up to $4,000 per year. The Department of Health and Human Services offers to pay tuition completely and the award recipient receives a $1,500 living stipend as well if the graduate agrees to serve in an underserved community upon graduation. Some professional organizations that provide scholarships to nursing students are; The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Midwest Alliance for Nursing Informatics, National Black Nurses Association, National Student Nurses Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International.
Nurses can find grants by looking in places like the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, specialty groups (for example if a nurse was interested in anesthesiology she could apply for a grant with an group associated with that sole interest), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and many states have excellent programs.
There are some helpful hints that an applicant can follow to have a better chance at winning a scholarship or grant award. The first step is to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when applying for acceptance at an institution. This is the most important step. Applying for scholarships and grants as well as multiples of each is a wise decision. Even if the awards seem small they can add up quickly. Volunteering just an hour or two a week can show that an applicant is committed to their community and increases the odds of receiving an award. Take time to write a professional essay and have someone else proofread it before submitting it to the committee. Choose three references who are respected at work and in the community and will speak positively and professionally if asked to write a letter of recommendation. It doesn’t take much time to apply for financial scholarships and grants, and is can be well worth the investment.