If you’re currently an LPN, you may want to pursue higher education to become an RN, which means you’ll be qualified for better jobs with better benefits and better salaries. Online education, such as online LPN to RN programs make this possible without quitting your job, but they can still be expensive for those who don’t have a large amount of money in savings. One of the best ways to pay for your education is with online LPN to RN scholarships. Given based on merit, these funds never have to be repaid, so it’s a free source of money for school.
Sources of Scholarships for Online LPN to RN students
There are two main sources of financial aid for nursing students, which are the government and the college at which the student in question is enrolled. Since the government usually gives out more loans and grants, and not many actual scholarships, nursing students looking for merit based financial aid will do best looking elsewhere. There are professional organizations, private donors, and a variety of other ways that nursing students can secure financial aid to pay for their nursing education.
Because there is such a shortage of nurses in the United States, hundreds – maybe even thousands – of scholarships are available specifically for those pursuing an advanced degree in nursing. Some of the private organizations that fund scholarships including the following:
- United Daughters of the Confederacy
- Alpha Tau Delta
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
- Health Occupations Students of America
- Harold B. & Dorothy A. Synder Scholarship Fund
- National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations
- American Quarter Horse Foundation Scholarships
- Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults
- Infusion Nursing Society
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses
- National Society of the Colonial Dames of America
There are also organizations who support nurses in certain specialties. Some of those providing scholarships include the following:
- Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.
- National Gerontological Nurses Association
- Scholarship Management Services, Scholarship America (hospice nurses)
- Neuroscience Nursing Foundation
- AAOHN Foundation
- WOCN Society
- Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
- Oncology Nursing Society
These lists are not exhaustive. Most nursing organizations offer scholarships to members, but that’s just the beginning of where you can find scholarships for online LPN to RN programs. In addition to private organizations like the ones listed above, you can also find many nursing scholarships through your school. When you enroll, talk to your college’s financial aid department. Most offer scholarships to the best and brightest students, and some also have department scholarships available based on your nursing specialty.
As an online student, keep in mind that you need to participate in an accredited program to qualify for most scholarships. While at one time distance learning students weren’t able to apply for most scholarships, today’s programs are more open-minded about non-traditional education. As long as the school you attend is accredited by a state or national nursing organization, you should qualify for any nursing scholarship available to offline students.
Many scholarships rely on your grades. Keep in mind that the money is renewable, which means that one a scholarship committee awards the amount to you, you can get it every year without competition simply by submitting some simple paperwork. That way, if you choose to not only go from LPN to RN, but to also pursue even higher degrees in nursing, you already have a head start with your renewable scholarships.
Trading Labor for Financial Aid: Two Government Programs
While these aren’t exactly “scholarships,” there are two government programs that will allow nursing students to exchange their labor in an underserved area for education financial aid. The National Health Service Corps and AmeriCorps are both government funded programs that award financial aid for service. In the case of AmeriCorps, the service is voluntary, and may not be medical in nature at all. Non-nurses can participate as well, and the terms are typically 11 months. AmeriCorps volunteers get a living stipend while they’re in the program, and a few thousand dollars to pay for college and related expenses when they’re finished.
The National Health Services Corps is much more medically centered. There is a huge shortfall in the medical field right now. Nurses are needed just about everywhere, but especially in rural areas and inner cities, and because medical jobs in those areas don’t pay as well, it is hard to get new nurses to work there. The NHSC offers nurses a grant, scholarship, or loan repayment plan to pay for school if they promise to work in one of these areas where there are not enough medical professionals to adequately take care of the population.
Salary and Employment Outlook for RNs
Even with scholarships and grants, most college and university students have to take out some loans to get enough money to afford school. For those entering the nursing profession, this may be less risky than for those in other professions. The nursing profession is blossoming, with an expected growth of 26% and a median salary of over $64,000 per year. Even if you come out of school with some debt on your shoulders, it is fairly likely that you will find a job that can adequately cover your expenses, including some student loan payments. That all depends on whether you pass the NCLEX, though, so throughout your schooling, you should be aware, and be preparing for this crucial test.
The graph below shows median salary data for Registered Nurses in various roles, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Standardized Testing for Nurses: The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX)
The NCLEX (RN) is a test administered by state boards of nursing across the U.S. that determines whether someone has the appropriate level of knowledge and skills to be a nurse in that state. While nursing programs naturally try to prepare students for the exam, they usually recommend a few months of full time study after graduation before the first attempt at the test, because it is so rigorous.
Nurses also have to take a few credits of continuing education courses every year or two during their careers to make sure that their knowledge of the medical industry and best practices are up to date. Most employers of nurses will pay for this education and may even help pay for additional classes so an RN can get a master’s or doctorate degree and move into a higher position or more specialized field of nursing.
Maintaining Momentum in an LPN to RN Online Program
Many people who consider online school are doing so because they have a family or a job they don’t want to take time away from, but they know it is important to continue their education and maintain the trajectory of their career. Working while doing online courses can be tough, but online schools are uniquely flexible in their course scheduling so that you can build your educational experience around your lifestyle, and not the other way around.
Spacing out semesters is one tactic you can use to make balancing your school and home life a little more manageable. Taking a semester in school, then taking a semester off, is totally doable at most online colleges. Some even offer trimester or quarter schedules so that you can have shorter cycles of intense schoolwork followed by breaks to spend time with family or pick up extra hours at work.
Ultimately, getting a degree in nursing will likely be good for your family, and you can probably get enough financial aid that your monetary burden at the end of it won’t be overwhelming. To find out more about programs and get in touch with schools offering accredited LPN to RN courses, click the college links below!
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