Prepared or not, your nurse practitioner education is going to cost you thousands of dollars. So, making decisions about how you plan to become an NP shouldn’t be taken lightly. Putting some extra research and effort in on the front-end of your education could save you thousands of dollars of hard earned money later. Here are a few tips and tricks for managing the cost of your nurse practitioner education.
1. Choose your employer carefully
Some hospitals, particularly those affiliated with an academic institution, offer tuition reimbursement packages or low cost tuition to employees attending classes at the university. In some cases this may be accompanied with a commitment to continued employment at the university medical center upon graduation. In other cases, the aspiring nurse practitioner must be employed at the university for a specified period of time before eligibility for these benefits kicks in.
If you’re thinking about continuing your nursing education, research the benefit packages offered to nurses at your area hospitals. Some employers may offer valuable assistance in financing your education.
2. Get a budget in place
Without a plan, it’s easy to overspend, even as a student. If you’re going back to school, sit down and draft a budget. Take stock of your current spending habits a well as the cost of your tuition and projected income. Are there any areas where you can cut back? Do the numbers add up? Entering your nurse practitioner program without a financial plan is a recipe for making financial mistakes and hefty student loans.
3. Commit to a loan repayment program
There are several loan repayment programs out there offering substantial packages to nurse practitioners willing to work in a medically underserved area post-graduation. In some cases, these programs may award nurse practitioners up to $60,000 towards repaying student loans. Be aware, these programs are competitive and may require you to relocate to a medically underserved area once your NP program is complete.
4. Buy and sell your textbooks online
While care with textbook purchases may seem trivial in relation to the total cost of your education, savings on the textbooks you’ll need for your NP program can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Use websites that compare textbook costs when purchasing your books. Sell your books back online when you no longer need them. This tactic is easy and saves you a little hard earned money.
5. Select a low cost nurse practitioner program
It goes without saying that some NP programs are must more costly than others. An Ivy League education could leave you more than $100,000 in debt for your MSN degree alone. A state school or less prestigious university may lead to the same degree for less than $20,000. Don’t apply to nurse practitioner programs on a whim. Think through the financial implications of each school to which you apply. There are plenty of universities offering affordable educations for aspiring NPs.
6. Meet with a financial aid officer
Your nurse practitioner program’s financial aid office will be up to date with the latest scholarships and grants awarded to NPs. Meet with your prospective school’s financial aid office before accepting a spot in your program of interest. Ask about financial aid packages and scholarships. Inquire as to the best way to go about taking on loans to finance your education.
7. Attend a program that accommodates working students
Maintaining employment as you complete your nurse practitioner program will of course mitigate your educational expenses. Before you commit to one program over another, make sure the manner in which your programs of interest are organized will allow you to continue working. Online programs are typically more manageable for students who plan to continue working full-time throughout their NP program. Evening and weekend classes help accommodate a weekday work schedule. Think through your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules when it comes to balancing school, work and family so you can stick to your budget as planned.
NP students – what advice can you give when it comes to financing a nurse practitioner education?
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