Scholarships for Nursing Students in California

California needs a high quality nursing force. Thus, prospective nurses are eligible for more than just the standard merit-based scholarships and need-based grants that are available to those in other degree programs.

In order to combat the professional nurse shortage, the government offers nursing scholarship and loan repayment programs at virtually every level of nursing. Each requires a work commitment in an area of high need. A major difference between programs termed nursing scholarships and programs termed loan repayment is the time when you apply. You apply for a nursing scholarship soon after program entrance; if you miss the deadline or don’t make it, you can apply for the repayment program as a graduate.

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Nursing Scholarship Requirements in California

The state of California offers work service nursing scholarships and repayment programs for nursing students at different levels. For vocational nursing students, there is the Vocational Nurse Scholarship and the Licensed Vocational Nurse Repayment program. For nurses pursuing a BSN, there is the Bachelor of Science Nursing scholarship, which offers $13,000 in exchange for a two year work commitment in an underserved area. There is also the Bachelor of Science Loan Repayment Program (BSNLRP). Successful applicants will be awarded $8,000 after serving the minimum two year commitment, and another $11,000 after an additional two years. There are similar options for nurses pursuing associates degrees, though the monetary value is lower.

For advance practice nurses (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists) there is the Health Professions Education Scholarship and the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program. And for those who take on faculty nurse education programs? These professionals may see up to $25,000 of loans repaid in exchange for the equivalent of three years of full time teaching. This award is a little different from the others in that service doesn’t have to be in a medically underserved area.

Some California nursing students are also eligible to compete for the Past Presidents Parley Nursing Scholarship. The California America Legion awards this to a veteran or a spouse, child, or survivor of a veteran. The winner may be given a $2,000 award only one time, but may receive lesser amounts in future years.

Another option for RNs is the Delores Jones RN Scholarship program, administered through Kaiser Permanente, which offers $1,000 to $2,500 scholarships to professional nursing students.

There are also school based scholarships. The City College of San Francisco offers several, including the Susan T. Margolis Scholarship ($500) and SF Council of Women’s Clubs Scholarship for Registered Nursing Students ($400).

Nursing Scholarship Professional Advice – CA

Even in California, of course, there aren’t as may awards as there are aspiring nurses. How does one compete? The details vary by competition, but one should realize that the donor is looking for an ideal employee and someone who can give back to the community at a high level. The following guidelines are from the BSLRP Selection:
Preference is given to those who show evidence of commitment to continuing to serve in a high needs area even after the obligatory period. A person’s background is considered among other evidence of commitment. Other skills and life experiences will impact selection as well. For example, are you bilingual? Many language groups are found in California, and they all get sick! Bilingualism is not a requirement, but it will be considered. Other things that will be considered: Does a person have a history of employment in the healthcare sector, and do they have economic hardship?

A complete application includes a personal statement, work history, and letters of recommendation as well as evidence of licensure, employment, and educational debt. Application requirements are different for other nursing scholarship competitions, but it is always important to do a final check. A lot of applicants get disqualified for incomplete packets.

Contact Information for Nursing Scholarships in California

Health Professions Education Foundation


American Legion Auxiliary Department of California


Delores Jones RN Scholarship Program


Department of Registered Nursing

City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Avenue, Room C340, San Francisco, CA 94112


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