Knowing you want to become a nurse is one thing. Actually making that happen is an
entirely different ballgame. To put it plainly, nursing school isn’t cheap.
Depending on what type of nurse you aspire to become (CNA, RNA, LPN, RN, etc.), the
price tag can range anywhere from $5k to $100k per year. And that’s just tuition.
There’s also the cost of books and materials to consider.
So, what happens if you’re ambitious but don’t have the financial ability to fund
your education? Does that mean a career in nursing is out of the question? Not
necessarily. You could take out student loans or apply for grants. Or, you could try
to get a scholarship. Let’s take a closer look at the latter and see what your
options are, who is eligible to apply and how to improve your chances of being
Where to Find Nursing Scholarships
A simple Google search for the term ‘nursing scholarships’ should bring back several
pages of results. The problem is, not all scholarships are created equal, which
means they’re not all worth applying for. This is especially important for someone
who is short on time. To help you avoid wasting your efforts where they may not be
fruitful, here’s a list of places where you can find scholarships that are worth
(Note: The list that applies to you will depend on where you are in your education.
Feel free to skip to whichever areas apply to you and skip the ones that don’t – but
keep in mind that some resources do overlap.)
Currently in High School (or Recently Graduated)
If you are just finishing up your high school diploma or recently graduated from
high school, there are a number of great resources available to you for finding a
nursing scholarship. For instance:
• Guidance Counselor – Your high school guidance counselor should be well-versed
in the various local scholarships that are available for which you might qualify.
For instance, there might be a local memorial scholarship for someone pursuing a
degree in health care. Make an appointment and ask what your options are.
• Online – There are a ton of websites devoted specifically to helping students
find relevant scholarships. To save time, sort and filter by your location and your
intended major. (Here are a few sites to get you started: BestColleges.com,
Scholarships.com and Scholarship Monkey.)
• Nurse Associations – Research various nurse association(s) and apply. For
instance, the American Nurses Association offers scholarships, as does the National
Student Nurses Association.
• Local Organizations – Many local chapters of national organizations offer
scholarships to graduating high school seniors. This is another great reason why
asking your guidance counselor for assistance can pay off. There’s even a way you
can search by state.
• National Brands – There are a surprising number of national brands that offer
scholarships for college. Scholarships.com recently compiled a list of general
scholarships, and Johnson and Johnson keeps a running tally specifically for nursing
• Needs-Based – There are lots of scholarships available to help students based on
their situation and/or need. For instance, some are designated for first-generation
college students or students that meet certain low-income criteria. If this applies
to you, check with your guidance counselor and apply to one (or all) of them.
• Niches and Specialty Groups – Finally, there are plenty of scholarships devoted
to certain niches or special groups. For example, there are Native American
scholarships or scholarships for people with a disability. Again, do some research
and check with your guidance counselor.
Currently Enrolled in College
For students already enrolled in college, finding scholarships can be a bit more
challenging, but it’s not impossible. You’ll just have to do so without the
assistance of your high school guidance counselor. Here are a few resources to help
you get started in your search:
• Online – As mentioned above, there are some excellent online resources dedicated
to helping students find scholarships for which they qualify. Most allow you to
search by state, major, and even certain hobbies or special interests you may have.
Scholarships.com or Fast Web, for instance, are great places to start.
• College Website – Chances are, your local college or university may have a few
scholarships available. Check their website or contact Admissions to find out.
• Specific Nurse Associations – Are you interested in pursuing a certain nursing
specialty? If so, there are probably scholarships for that specific focus. For
instance, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses offers a list of scholarships and
grants right on their website.
How to Improve Your Chances
With many applicants, obviously not everyone who applies will be awarded a
scholarship. And while the nitty gritty details of eligibility may vary scholarship
to scholarship, there are certain criteria that just about all decision-makers use
when selecting a recipient. You can improve your chances by focusing on the
following key areas:
Schools, organizations and businesses don’t want to invest money into a student who
won’t capitalize on it. That’s why strong academic ability is often a deciding
factor for scholarships. This applies both to high school as well as college grades.
In fact, most scholarships require a GPA of at least 3.0. Given the fierce
competition, however, the higher your grades, the better your chances.
Another factor often considered when selecting someone to award a scholarship to is
his or level of involvement within the community. For example, many decision-makers
give more weight to applicants who volunteer their time. In terms of nursing
scholarships, focusing your community involvement on medical facilities – such as
nursing homes – and other health care related organizations is your best bet.
Demonstrating your ability to lead and inspire others is another great way to
improve your chances of receiving a scholarship. There are plenty of ways you can do
this. For instance, if you are in high school, heading up a group or committee can
look great on your application. For those in college or already in the workforce,
any position of leadership can be helpful.
Strong Communication Skills
Most scholarships still include a mandatory essay in order to apply. This isn’t just
to learn about your story. It’s also how they assess your communication skills. If
writing isn’t your strongpoint, have someone else proofread and edit your response
before submitting it. You may also want to spend some extra time honing that skill.
Trust us - it’ll pay off in the long run.
What did we miss? Have a great resource for nursing scholarships to share? Please
post it in the comments section below!