RN to BSN Scholarships: Your Guide to Financial Aid For Advance Nursing Education

Choosing to advance your BSN degree takes courage, dedication, and sacrifice. As a registered nurse (RN) balancing a career, family responsibilities, and continuing your education, financial barriers can feel overwhelming. However, with RN to BSN scholarships and other financial aid options, achieving your educational and career goals is more attainable than you may think.

Types of Financial Aid for RN to BSN Programs

There are several common types of financial assistance available for RN to BSN students to consider:


Scholarships are a form of free money that does not require students to work off their debt. RN to BSN scholarships are merit-based or need-based awards available through professional nursing organizations, employers, academic institutions, and private foundations. Award amounts vary widely from a few hundred dollars to full tuition coverage.


Similar to scholarships, grants are financial awards that are bestowed upon recipients without the expectation of repayment. The most common grants for RN to BSN students are federal Pell Grants, awarded based on financial need. State and institutional grants may also be available depending on your location and school.

Student Loans

Federal student loans offer borrowing at low fixed interest rates. Direct Loans provide up to $12,500 annually for an RN to BSN program. Private student loans may supplement federal loans if needed but typically have variable interest rates. All loans require repayment.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Many healthcare employers offer tuition reimbursement programs to support employees in continuing their education. Eligibility is typically contingent on maintaining employment for a period after completing your BSN. Repayment is not required if employment terms are satisfied.

Military & Veterans Benefits

Active duty military personnel and veterans are well-positioned and may qualify for GI Bill education benefits like the Montgomery GI Bill Select Reserve program. Benefits provide a monthly housing allowance as well as full or partial tuition coverage at in-state public schools.

Carefully researching all potential sources of financial support is important to offset RN to BSN costs without shouldering too much debt. Now, let’s dive deeper into specific RN to BSN scholarship opportunities.

Top RN to BSN Scholarship Programs

A wide variety of organizations offer scholarships for RNs to further their education through BSN completion programs. Here are some of the most prestigious, widely available, and largest awarding RN to BSN scholarships to target:

American Nurses Foundation Scholarships

Offered annually by the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association, these merit-based scholarships range from $2,000 to $10,000. Strict eligibility criteria limit awards to RNs furthering their education or practicing in underserved areas. Early January deadline.

Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars Program

Prestigious need-based and merit-based awards of up to $10,000 annually, renewable for up to 3 years of study. Scholars commit to nursing leadership roles after graduation. Rolling admissions with an early October deadline.

National Student Nurses Association Foundation Scholarships

A variety of $1,000 to $5,000 scholarships awarded to undergraduate and RN to BSN students based on financial need or career interests. Rolling admissions with quarterly deadlines starting each January and May.

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Scholarships

Merit-based awards for RNs seeking critical care advanced education. Amounts range from $2,000 to $5,000. October is the deadline for the following year of study.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society Scholarships

Numerous chapter and at-large scholarships are available annually from $1,000 to $4,000 for members pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral nursing education. Rolling admissions through the May deadline.

Emergency Nurses Association Scholarships

Scholarship opportunities through local state ENA chapters for members furthering emergency nursing education. Award amounts typically $1,000 to $2,000. Varying deadlines throughout the year.

Take time to thoroughly research application requirements and actively engage with professional nursing networks online to identify additional local and specialty-focused scholarships as sources of RN to BSN funding support. Leveraging available opportunities ensures the most cost-effective path to degree completion.

Other Financial Aid Strategies

While scholarships and grants offer an ideal way to fund your education without debt repayment, the reality is they are highly competitive with no guarantee of receiving funds. Developing backup strategies is thus important in holistic financial planning.

Maximize Federal Student Aid Eligibility

File your FAFSA early each year to gain access to federal Pell Grants, Direct Loans, and additional campus-based funding. Temporarily reducing income through reduced work hours can improve estimated family contribution for greater eligibility.

Apply for State Grants & Scholarships

States offer their own need-based and merit aid programs for nursing students. Research programs in your resident state for added support. Some states fund tuition at public RN to BSN programs for qualifying applicants.

Negotiate Employer Tuition Benefits

Larger healthcare employers often have education departments that will negotiate tuition discounts or scholarships for RN to BSN programs in exchange for continued post-graduation employment. Bargaining may gain 20-50% tuition reductions.

Utilize Federal Loan Repayment Programs

Offerings like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness can forgive federal loans if working for ten years post-graduation in public service. Teach For America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and National Health Service Corps also offer repayment benefits.

Private Student Loans Strategically

Private loans accrue higher interest than federal but may supplement federal loan eligibility gaps. Apply with a cosigner, and evaluate variable vs. fixed interest options carefully based on financial situation and goals. Avoid over-borrowing.

Developing multiple complementary financial strategies rather than depending on any one source will empower you with the highest likelihood of affordably achieving your career aspirations through BSN completion. Diligent planning is key.

Finalizing Your Funding Plan

To pull together your personal RN to BSN funding plan:

  • Research program costs and potential tuition discounting opportunities at target schools. Create a budget accounting for living expenses over program duration.
  • Identify all potential sources of merit-based and need-based aid available specifically for RNs. Bookmark scholarship listings for ongoing applications throughout your program.
  • File your FAFSA early each aid year and follow up on any additional financial need assessment required by state or college aid offices.
  • Calculate how much financial need remains after maximum expected gift aid through federal loans, employer benefits, and private loans if required.
  • Be strategic in timing of scholarship applications versus starting RN to BSN coursework to maximize available funding each semester.
  • Connect with nursing school financial aid advisors throughout the process for guidance navigating options suited for your situation.

With adequate planning and diligence in pursuing available resources, the financial barriers to advancing your nursing career through BSN completion can be surmounted. Achieving your highest educational and career aspirations remains well within reach. I wish you the very best in taking these important next steps for your professional growth and success!

As you pursue your RN to BSN education, it’s also important to consider how financing your degree may impact your future earnings potential and career options. Completing your BSN can significantly increase your earning power and eligibility for leadership roles over the long run.

The Impact of a BSN on Earnings and Career Advancement

Studies have found that BSN-prepared nurses tend to earn more over the course of their careers compared to nurses holding an associate’s degree or diploma:

  • According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the average salary for a BSN-prepared RN is around 5-17% higher than an associate’s degree RN. This salary differential grows larger with experience.
  • A 2014 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine found that nurses holding a BSN or higher degree earned approximately $7,500-$8,500 more per year than nurses prepared at the associate’s degree level or diploma level.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects RN jobs to grow 7% by 2030, with the best opportunities for leadership positions, specialization, and higher pay going to RNs holding a BSN or higher.

Financing your RN to BSN program is an investment that can dramatically increase your lifetime earning potential. Factoring in lifetime salary differences and career mobility can help offset cost concerns when developing a financing plan.

Completing a BSN also opens the door to vast career opportunities, including specializing as a nurse practitioner, taking on administrative roles, teaching at the university level, and advancing to higher degrees like MSN, DNP, or PhD. These roles command significantly higher salaries on average.

Some employers even require new RNs to hold a BSN for employment or offer preferential hiring and promotions to BSN-prepared nurses. Many magnet hospitals, the largest healthcare systems, and military facilities have adopted the BSN as the new educational standard for entry-level RNs.

The career mobility and salary benefits of attaining a BSN should outweigh the initial costs exponentially over decades of higher earnings. Financial barriers along the way can seem steep, but planning strategically and maximizing all potential aid sources can help overcome them.

Additional Tips for Financing Success

A few final tips can help strengthen your financing strategy:

  • Consider partially online or hybrid programs for flexibility to keep your current job. Some employers cover more costs this way.
  • Choose public or community colleges first for core RN to BSN courses. Private college costs may be covered by transfers later.
  • Inquire about credit for prior learning from your ADN or diploma. Savings come from waiving duplicate general education courses.
  • Attend part-time if needed to maintain an income from work while spreading costs over more semesters.
  • Stay organized throughout, tracking payments, deadlines, and requirements meticulously in a dedicated financing binder.
  • Celebrate achievements along the way, like earning academic scholarships, and then refocus diligently on the next funding goals.

With thorough planning, perseverance through challenges, and optimism for your future potential, completing your RN to BSN can become financially realistic and professionally rewarding. Please reach out if you need any additional advice or resources as you work to advance your nursing career through higher education.

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