College grants are a free source of money, so they can help make your educational dreams a reality. Some people don’t realize just how many nursing grants are available. Because of the shortage in nurses that’s plaguing the country, there are hundreds of opportunities for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to go back to school to become registered nurses (RNs). As an RN, you can earn a higher salary, qualify for better jobs, and learn more about the specialties in the medical world that interest you most. Online LPN to RN college grants are available from a number of sources; you just have to know where to look.
Government Grants for Online LPN to RN College Students
The U.S. Government dishes out billions of dollars per year in loans and grants, and nursing students, especially those who can show a real need for financial assistance, should have no trouble getting at least some money from the government to help pay for education costs.
The Federal Pell Grant is one of the most commonly awarded governmental financial aid options. Qualifying for a Pell grant depends on the student’s income and the amount that their family can be expected to contribute. A little over $5,000 per year is the maximum award, which is enough to offset a portion of an online LPN to RN program.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resource and Services Administration has a number of grants available for students who are interested in nursing or want farther training in their field. Almost every state has grant programs as well, though these may require you to work in that state for a certain time period after you graduate. Make sure you understand the grant requirements before you apply.
The National Health Services Corps (NHSC) is another option that anyone looking at nursing school should consider. NHSC isn’t a grant, but an offer of financial assistance in exchange for certain professional commitments. Since there is such a shortage of nurses, especially in rural and inner city neighborhoods, the government will subsidize a nurse’s education if they promise to work in an underserved area for a certain amount of time.
Private Grants for Online LPN to RN Students
Private organizations also offer nursing grants in some cases. Some of these organization include the following:
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- Gerontological Society of America
- Emergency Nurses Foundation Association
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
As their name implies, some of these organizations support nurses in certain specialties. There are also private organizations that have scholarships available to all kinds of nurses or anyone pursing a degree in a health-related field, and there are even grants that are available specifically for distance learning students.
Online students are equally qualified to receive both governmental and private financial aid as traditional students. Specific online colleges may offer academic scholarships and other financial aid as well, so it pays to talk to someone from the financial aid office and get them to tell you about all of your options for monetary assistance.
Nurses Have an Advantage in Seeking Financial Aid
Nurses actually have better financial aid opportunities than students in many other fields because they are in such demand, and their work is important to the health of the population. In addition to grants and scholarships, some working nurses may be able to take advantage of loan repayment programs, which pay a portion of their existing student loans if they work in a certain hospital or region. This is similar to the NHSC, except that loan repayment programs are only for nurses who have finished school and have outstanding education debt. These work like grants after college is over. If you agree to work in a high-need facility for a certain number of years, up to 85% of your student loans will be repaid, if you qualify for the program. Of course, don’t forget to check out the LPN to RN programs sponsored by your employer. Many hospitals, doctor’s offices, health organizations, and other LPN employers will pay for their employees to become RNs in exchange for the student agreeing to work for the employer for a certain number of years. This is a great way to participate in an online LPN to RN program for free!
Maximizing The Value of Your Grants While In School
Often, education grants that are awarded to you by the government will be paid directly to your college of choice to offset your tuition costs. You’ll still have to pay your own costs of living, and for an online school, you’ll likely have to make an initial investment in computer equipment as well. Fortunately, there are ways that you can get a little more help with your expenses, and going to an online school might just leave you the free time to take on a job and earn a little income while you’re in school as well.
Tax breaks are a good way to squeeze a little more money out of the government to help you pay for your education. The Lifetime Learning Credit lets you write off up to $2,000 worth of taxable income each year that you are enrolled in an educational program. The Internal Revenue Service offers one or two other options for saving money on taxes while you’re in school as well, including the ability to write off a certain amount of interest that you have paid on student loans during a given fiscal year.
Public and Private Educational Loans
Loans are another perfectly legitimate way to secure college funds. While it is important to be careful when taking on debt, education tends to be a pretty solid investment, as people with at least an associate’s degree earn much more money in a lifetime than those without any postsecondary education. The U.S. Government offers much better loan options than any bank or private institution, so taking out educational loans from the government should be your first choice if you must take on debt at all. The government’s loan offerings are as follows:
- Stafford and Perkins Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: These loans are available to almost any student in varying amounts depending on the government’s estimate of your financial need. The difference between a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized one is that the interest on a subsidized loan is not added to the principal amount (capitalized) until after you have graduated, which means that if you pay off the interest while you’re still in school, you pay less overall.
- Parent PLUS Loans: Parent PLUS loans are loans that a parent can take out on behalf of their son or daughter for use towards education expenses. These loans have similar interest rates and repayment plan options to the Stafford and Perkins loans.
If at all possible, it is best not to take out loans from a bank or private loan granting organization. Part of the reason that the national average of student debt is so high, at over $25,000, is that private lenders start students out at fair interest rates, then jack them up to usurious levels of interest once the student has graduated, so the debt grows even as it is being paid off, rather than shrinking. Government loans have a fixed, moderate interest rate and repayment plans that can be customized based on your personal income and financial assets.
Keeping Scholarships While You’re In School
Some grants and scholarships offer a one-time infusion of cash to jump start your education, and some are renewable year to year. Make sure you understand the terms for renewal of any perennial scholarships you have been awarded, because often, you’ll have to do some work to keep them afloat. Either way, financial aid can help take the edge off the monetary costs of education and let you focus on your grades rather than worrying about money.