Government Scholarships for Nursing Students
As a nurse, you receive lots of little signs that you’re valued. It could be a simple smile. It could be some words of appreciation from a patient who stops by the ward months after discharge. It could be the feeling you get from seeing that patient and realizing how healthy they have become. Here’s one very large signal of appreciation that you may not be aware of: The government may fund your education.
Governmental scholarships take two forms. Many require a work commitment in an area where there is high need; if you fail to meet the terms, the scholarship then becomes a loan. Other scholarships are administered through the financial aid offices of individual schools. The Recovery Act has funded a number of programs, including the Nursing Diversity Workforce Program and Scholarships for Disadvantaged Health Professions Students. Calhoun Community College in Alabama is among the schools that has received over $100,000.
Government Nursing Scholarship Requirements
The national government is heavily invested in the nursing workforce. The Nursing Scholarship Program pays tuition, education-related expenses, and a monthly stipend to selected applicants. Eligible students are RN candidates with high economic need; the highest priority is given to undergraduate students who are in school full-time, but have no family support. After graduation, they must serve for two years in an eligible facility. It is not necessary to be enrolled to apply -- it is necessary to be accepted into a program, however. The NSP is a generous award, but a serious commitment. In most cases, an awardee who fails to follow through on his commitment must pay back all funds within three years. There are various circumstances, though, in which a temporary or permanent waiver may be granted. Students who are considering applying can call 1-800-221-9393 with questions.
The National Health Service Corps scholarship is for primary care providers like nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives. It entails a work commitment in an area of high need. Candidates can sign up to be notified by email when the annual application cycle begins.
The Indian Health Services Scholarship can pay tuition for pre-professional Native American students and provide an additional stipend for professional ones. The award requires a commitment of at least two years in an Indian Health Services facility (additional time if you were funded more than two years). Questions about program application should be addressed to the area scholarship coordinator. Recipients have an IHS Scholarship Program Analyst to help them. Native Hawaiian students have an additional resource in the Native Hawaiian Scholarship Program.
State governments often have their own scholarship programs. A service commitment is very common, though there are exceptions. Maryland’s Graduate and Professional Scholarship makes awards of $1,000 to $5,000 to financially needy degree-seeking students. Maryland’s loan scholarship program, the Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant Program, requires a 3.0 GPA; academic need is not necessary. For each year a student is funded, that student will owe one year of full-time employment (or two years of half-time employment). Graduate students who are committed to teaching may apply for the Graduate Nursing Faculty Scholarship.
Mississippi’s programs, available for BSN through DNP/ PhD level students, also require one year of service for each year of scholarship assistance. Awards are first come, first serve for qualified applicants.
Some Professional Advice
Your state or national government may make a huge investment in your education, but some programs ask you to make a large investment in return. The Nursing Scholarship Program is an example. Awards are made on the basis of need, and they may be enough to see a nurse through a professional nursing program. However, the commitment is large, particularly for a young person who does not have family resources to fall back on. How can you be sure it’s the right move? The youth volunteer coordinator at Methodist Hospital in California recently addressed this question. He said that he has seen many young people grow in their commitment to the medical profession as well as to the more general spirit of service. He notes that while teenagers who are pushed into volunteering are seldom effective, those who are genuinely interested learn a great deal from the experience.
Another important thing to remember when applying for government scholarships is that a lot of paperwork may be required. You may, for example, need to document your parents’ income as well as your own. By answering all questions and including all required documents, you put yourself ahead of many.
Contact Information for Government Nursing Scholarships
Nursing Scholarship Program
HRSA Document Center - Nursing Scholarship Program
12530 Parklawn Drive, Suite 350
Rockville, MD 20852
National Health Service Corps
Indian Health Services Area Coordinators
Maryland Workforce Shortage
Maryland Graduate and Professional Scholarship
Mississippi Rise Up
Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid
3825 Ridgewood Road
Jackson, MS 39211-6453