How much does nursing school cost? What kind of tuition can you expect to pay for LPN programs, RN programs, or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs, such as nurse practitioner, CRNA, or nurse midwife? Those are great questions!
In this article and video, I’ll give you an idea of the costs you can expect to pay in a nursing program.
Nursing School Costs and Tuition
First, you have to keep in mind that there are many factors that can affect nursing school tuition costs. Here are some of the factors that can affect your nursing school costs:
- The length of the nursing program: Shorter programs, such as the typical 12-18 month LPN programs, will obviously cost much less when compared to a BSN nursing program, which typically takes four years to complete.
- Location: Some states have a higher cost of living than others states. Nursing schools located in rural areas (or states with a low cost of living) will likely cost much less than nursing schools located in a highly populated city or state.
- In-state vs out-of-state tuition: Some nursing schools charge students a premium when they are non-residents. Therefore, you might save money by attending a nursing school in your own state.
- Public vs private schools: Public nursing schools will generally cost less than private nursing schools.
- Full-time vs part-time status: Attending nursing school full-time can actually save money, but only if you can reduce the time it takes to obtain your degree. Also, some schools only charge a flat rate for full-time status, meaning you can actually save money by taking an extra class or two each semester (i.e., any credits over 12 are free, so if you can take 15-18 credits, it might save some money). Part-time status could also be less expensive for the semester, but your overall costs might be more if it takes you longer to graduate, or if the school charges more for part-time status (some do, some don’t).
- Opportunity costs: These are the hidden costs we rarely consider. For example, if you’re making $15,000 per year at a job, but quit that job to attend nursing school, then your opportunity costs are $15,000 per year. However, that’s not always black and white. Sometimes students can work part-time (or full-time) jobs, or scholarships can help cover some living expenses. Nevertheless, you’ll want to factor in your opportunity costs.
- Room and board: You’ll always need food and shelter, so room and board aren’t a big factor in most decisions. Nevertheless, some nursing schools might charge more if you live on campus. Therefore, you might want to consider extra expenses you’d have to pay compared to living at home or in your own house/apartment.
As you can see, there are many factors that can greatly affect the total cost that you’ll pay for nursing school. The factors above are just a few things to consider. It pays to crunch some numbers and shop around!
Nursing School Degree Costs
Now, let’s take a look at nursing school tuition costs based on the various degrees and programs. These figures represent a general range, because each nursing school charges different rates.
- LPN Programs: LPN programs generally take 12-18 months to complete. On the low end of things, you’ll pay around $4,000. On the high end, you might pay up to $28,000. Most students will probably pay around $8-12,000.
- ADN-RN Programs: It typically takes 2-3 years to complete an associate’s degree in nursing, with a cost range of about $12,000-35,000 or more. Most students will probably pay around $18,000-25,000.
- BSN-RN Programs: It takes around 3-4 years to complete a bachelor’s program in nursing, with a cost range of about $25,000-120,000 or more (even up to $140,000). Most students will probably pay around $35,000-60,000 for a BSN at a state college.
- APRN Programs: To become an APRN (nurse practitioner, CRNA, midwife, etc.) students will typically need a bachelor’s degree first, then another 2-4 year degree. On the low side, this will cost around $63,000 ($25,000 for BSN and $38,000 for the APRN degree). On the high side, this can cost well over $100,000, even up to around $200,000 or so.
As you can see, the total cost and tuition can vary wildly among different nursing programs, but here’s the good news: Most nursing schools are very direct about their program’s cost. Most nursing schools publish the curriculum, tuition fees, and other costs associated with attending a program.
If you want to compare costs, our advice is to examine a few local nursing schools to find out how much they charge for tuition and fees. You can also visit their websites for a quick look at their fees. For example, Liberty University charges $390 per credit hour (not including other fees), and their nursing program requires a total of 134 credits.
Nurse Sarah, the main personality on our nursing school YouTube Channel, paid around $28,000-$30,000 for her BSN degree at a regionally accredited state university that is local to our area, including books. However, that was many years ago (she graduated in 2009), and the program today costs around $40,000-45,000 for four years.
Miscellaneous Fees in Nursing School
Aside from tuition and books, there are other fees or costs you might face in nursing school, including the following:
- Lab/technology fees: These might be added to tuition, or they might be charged separately. They can range from a one-time fee to a fee you pay each semester (or credit hour). It can run from $50-300.
- Scrubs and Lab Jacket: You’ll probably have to buy some scrubs ($30-50 each pair) and a lab jacket ($15-50).
- Miscellaneous gear: You’ll probably have to buy a stethoscope, nursing shoes, a tote bag, pen light, etc. This might run you about $200 or so.
- Insurance: You’ll probably have to buy a liability insurance policy (in case you kill a patient or something), but it’s usually inexpensive ($25-50 or so for a full year’s coverage).
- Immunizations/physical: This can depend on whether you have health insurance, but if you don’t, you might have to pay around $100-400 or so for these.
Again, sometimes those expenses are included with tuition and fees in nursing school, and sometimes you have to buy them separately.
Things to Keep in Mind for Nursing School
If you want to attend nursing school, keep in mind that you’ll want to shop around. Here are a few extra factors to consider:
- Nursing School Accreditation: Generally speaking, regional accreditation is usually considered “best,” followed by national accreditation. If your nursing school doesn’t have accreditation, you’ll want to make sure that it will meet the education requirements set forth by the Board of Nursing in your state. If not, you might not be able to sit for the NCLEX exam.
- Nursing School NCLEX Pass Rates: While comparing nursing schools, you might want to look at the NCLEX pass rates to get an idea of how well the graduates are doing, which may indicate how well the schools are preparing students.
- Nursing School Job Placement Rates: You also might want to consider job placement rates among new graduates. After all, the whole point of going to school is to pass the NCLEX and get a job!
How to Pay for Nursing School Tuition
Nursing school can be very expensive, but here’s the good news: There are ways to reduce or even cover the cost of nursing school. Here are some ways you can pay for it:
- Scholarships: There are many scholarships available, and students can apply for scholarships for nursing, based on minority status, college-specific scholarships, GPA-based scholarships, and more.
- Financial aid: If you come from a low-income family, you might be eligible for financial aid that could cover some (or all) of your tuition. Furthermore, some states actually pay for students to get an associate’s degree for free, so you might be able to obtain an ADN degree at no cost.
- Employer Tuition Reimbursement: Some employers will offer to pay for your degree as long as you agree to work for them for a set time after graduation. Therefore, if you can get your foot in the door and work as, say, a nursing assistant, you might be able to do this.
- School Work Programs: Many colleges offer programs that pay you to help with simple administrative tasks around campus. Although you’ll probably only earn minimum wage, it can give you some much-needed cash.
- Tax deductions: If you or your spouse works, you might be eligible for various tax deductions or tax credits. Learn more about nursing school tax credits and tuition tax benefits.
- Student loans: Finally, debt is always an option to pay for school, but I’d strongly encourage students to make this the very LAST option. Debt is something you’ll always want to avoid. Nevertheless, if you have no other option, it might make sense to go into debt so that you can eventually earn a higher nursing salary.
You might want to read our article (or watch our video) on nursing school financial aid and scholarships for more information on how to pay for nursing school.