What Is The Cost Of Nursing School? (2023)

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Attending nursing school can be a powerful investment in your future. When choosing a school and degree program, prospective nursing students must consider the cost of nursing school so they can anticipate when their investment might pay off.

This article overviews the average cost of nursing school at each degree level. We also outline a few key financial aid resources to help alleviate costs. Finally, we discuss the potential return on investment for degrees in nursing.


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How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

The cost of nursing school can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the degree you choose, whether you attend part or full time, whether you attend an in-state or out-of-state institution and whether you enroll in a private or public school.

Associate degrees in nursing (ADNs) tend to cost less, with some programs totaling as little as $3,000, while more advanced degrees can cost up to $100,000 if you attend a private school.

Cost of Nursing School by Degree

The cost of nursing school can vary considerably depending on the school and degree level you choose. Below we break down typical nursing school costs for each degree level, ranging from an ADN to a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).

Associate Degree in Nursing

Aspiring nursing students looking for a time- and cost-effective avenue into nursing may consider an associate degree in nursing. ADN programs typically last two years and are generally among the most affordable educational options for nursing students. With that said, tuition and program costs can vary considerably by school.

Several factors can impact the cost of an ADN degree, including whether you choose to attend an institution in or out of state and whether it’s a public or private university. Enrolling in an out-of-state public program can cost over double the tuition of an in-state public program.

Generally, the cost of ADN programs at public universities can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per year. Since most ADNs are two-year degrees, this amounts to $6,000 to $20,000 in total. Private universities generally charge higher tuition rates; private school students can spend more than $40,000 for their ADN.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

On average, a bachelor of science in nursing takes four years of full-time study to complete and typically comprises 120 credits. Like with an ADN, the total cost of a BSN degree varies widely depending on whether it’s a public or private university and whether you attend in or out of state. Students can pay between $20,000 to over $100,000 in total for a BSN degree.

In most cases, out-of-state tuition costs significantly more than in-state tuition. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that the average undergraduate tuition and required fees for full-time students in the 2020-21 school year were $9,375 at in-state institutions and $27,091 at out-of-state institutions.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

MSN programs take one to two years to complete. The total cost of a master’s in nursing ranges between $24,000 and $80,000 depending on similar factors to those affecting ADN and BSN costs. Some MSN programs, including out-of-state and private universities or colleges, can cost $100,000 or more.


Program length also impacts the cost of an MSN, and the number of required credits varies considerably by program. Students may need to complete anywhere between 30 and 70 credit hours depending on the program they choose.

An MSN typically costs more for part-time students since part-time enrollment often increases overall program length. Students who attend out-of-state or private universities often pay more as well.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The total cost of a DNP degree can vary significantly depending on several factors, including your highest education level since this impacts program length. If your highest degree is a bachelor’s, you can expect a BSN-to-DNP program to take three to four years. Alternatively, an MSN-to-DNP program takes around two years to complete.

DNP programs can range in cost from around $10,000 to over $100,000. Attending part time or enrolling in a private university can raise your costs.

Additional Nursing School Expenses

Aside from tuition and fees, prospective nursing students should consider additional nursing school expenses when determining the total cost of nursing school. These expenses can include the following:

  • Background checks
  • Childcare for students with families
  • Immunizations, drug tests and lab tests
  • Lab supplies
  • Lost or reduced wages for students who quit their jobs or reduce their working hours
  • National licensure exam prep and registration
  • Physical exams
  • Scrubs
  • Textbooks
  • Transportation costs and parking fees for commuters

NCLEX Prep and Fees

To obtain licensure and begin practicing, nursing students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Candidates seeking to practice in the U.S. must pay a $200 registration fee to take the NCLEX.

Once you pay the registration fee and schedule your exam, you can look into prep courses and other resources to start preparing. NCLEX prep courses can cost anywhere from $25 to over $500. Students can browse various prep materials and courses to choose one that suits their budget, learning style and scheduling needs.

How to Pay for Nursing School

Students must submit the FAFSA to qualify for federal student aid, including loans. For more information, check out our guides explaining what the FAFSA is and how to apply for financial aid using the FAFSA.

Nursing students can look into scholarships, grants and tuition reimbursement programs to help reduce the cost of nursing school. The American Association of Colleges and Nursing updates a list of aid resources for nursing students. Below we explore various means of financial aid to help offset and alleviate nursing school costs.


Scholarships are often awarded to students based on academic achievement or financial need. Scholarships are available through both public and private resources, and they do not need to be repaid. For example, Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration offer scholarships to nursing students.

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Grants are need-based awards typically issued by companies, organizations, foundations and government organizations. Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment. Several government and private agencies offer grants for nursing students. For example, the California Department of Health Care Access and Information provides grants to nursing students who commit to practicing in underserved areas.

Student Loans

Program applicants may also seek student loans to pay for nursing school. Unlike scholarships and grants, students must repay loans. Nursing students can choose from two primary loan types: federal loans and private loans. For suggestions, check out our list of the best nursing school loans.

To apply for federal financial aid, including federal loans, students must submit the FAFSA. Generally, federal loans incur less interest than private loans. There are three main types of federal loans students can apply for:

  • Direct subsidized loans
  • Direct unsubsidized loans
  • Direct PLUS loans

Federal loans come with annual borrowing caps. For example, direct subsidized loans are capped at $5,500 to $12,500 per year. Students who max out their federal loan offers and need additional financial assistance may need to look into private loans.

Student loan forgiveness programs are available to nursing graduates and offer a chance to eliminate student loan debt. For more information, see our guide on the different ways to get student loan forgiveness for nurses.

Make sure you thoroughly understand the specifications, requirements and terms of a prospective loan program before accepting a loan or loan forgiveness.

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Employers often offer tuition reimbursement programs, which are becoming increasingly common in the health care industry to address the national shortage of nurses in hospitals and healthcare facilities. A tuition reimbursement program may look like an employer reimbursing a portion, or the total, of a graduate’s tuition as long as the graduate commits to working as a nurse in a specific place or for a certain number of years.

Common reimbursement programs may include the following conditions:

  • Successful completion of the degree program
  • Maintaining a specified grade point average
  • Agreeing to work for a specific hospital or another healthcare facility for a specified amount of time
  • Agreeing to work in a specific geographic area, such as a rural region

For example, the federal Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program repays student loans for qualifying nurses who commit to working in nonprofit clinics or hospitals.

Nursing School Return on Investment

The return on investment is the profit you’ve earned on your investment (in this case, your salary after finishing nursing school) divided by the cost of your investment (the cost of nursing school), multiplied by 100 to give you a percentage.

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Let’s say you spend $50,000 earning a BSN, and you go on to become a registered nurse (RN). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn a median annual salary of $77,600 per year, meaning you would recoup your investment (and then some) within one year of working as an RN. Let’s break it down:

$77,600 / $50,000 x 100 = 155.2

After one year of working as an RN, you could see an ROI of 155.2%.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Cost of Nursing School

How much is the tuition for nursing?

Tuition rates for nursing school vary considerably depending on your desired degree level and the school you choose. Looking at ADN, BSN, MSN and DNP programs, nursing school can range in cost from around $3,000 to over $100,000.

Is becoming a nurse worth it?

Yes, for many people, nursing is a worthwhile career. Nursing can be physically and emotionally demanding and generally entails long working hours. On the other hand, nursing offers opportunities to engage in meaningful work that provides essential care and support to others. Nursing provides job security, boasts a high earning potential and can offer variety in your day-to-day work. After one year of work as an RN, you could recoup more than 100% of your investment in nursing school.

(Video) How Expensive Is Nursing School?!?!?


How much does nursing school cost us? ›

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

This program will give you some of the training and skills you need to work in a hospital setting. The average cost of a four-year BSN program is $40,000-$100,000 from private universities, but for less you can get this degree for $13,000 to $17,000 per year from public schools.

How much money should I save for nursing school? ›

Most financial advisors recommend the 50/20/30 rule for budgets. Under this plan, individuals use half their income for essential expenses, 20% for savings, and 30% for nonessential expenses. While few students follow this rule to the penny, 50/20/30 provides a strong foundation for budgeting in nursing school.

Why does nursing school cost so much? ›

Reasons Why Nursing School is So Expensive

Expanding campus amenities. Growing college administrations. Higher demand for a college education. Increases in the cost of living.

How much is the cheapest nursing school in the USA? ›

10 Most Affordable Traditional Nursing Degree Programs
  1. Lamar University. Tuition – $3,120 per semester. ...
  2. Stony Brook University. Tuition – $2,785 per semester. ...
  3. University of Nevada at Las Vegas. ...
  4. University of Michigan Flint. ...
  5. Northwestern Michigan College. ...
  6. Indiana State University. ...
  7. East Carolina University. ...
  8. Clarkson College.

How much does a 2 year nursing degree pay in USA? ›

Licensed practical nurse average salary

According to Indeed's salary information, the national average salary for LPNs in the United States comes in at $23.81 per hour , which can amount to just under $50,000 per year, assuming a 40-hour workweek.

How much is RN per hour in USA? ›

Salaries by years of experience in the United States
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$42.21
3 to 5 years$44.31
6 to 9 years$45.90
More than 10 years$51.33
1 more row

How much student debt is normal for RN? ›

Nursing Student Loan Debt for BSNs

The average cost of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) is between $8,000 and $55,000. The average student loan debt for a BSN is $23,711.

How much debt do you get from nursing school? ›

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that 69% of students attending a graduate-level program took out federal student loans. The median level of nursing student loan debt at the completion of the program ranged from $40,000-$54,900.

How do you survive financially during nursing school? ›

10 Ways a Nursing Student Can Make Money in School
  1. Use Financial Aid.
  2. Apply for Scholarships.
  3. Consider Help From Your Current Job.
  4. Work From Home.
  5. Consider Night-Shift Jobs.
  6. Ask for Work Study Programs.
  7. Take Out Loans.
  8. Consider A Military Nursing Career.

Which state has the cheapest nursing programs? ›

The most affordable nursing schools in the US are Oklahoma City University, Florida State University, and University of West Georgia. Our list of affordable nursing programs covers bachelor's, master's, and doctorate programs that will help advance your career in nursing or healthcare.

Why is nursing school so hard in the US? ›

Why is nursing school so hard? The top 6 challenges of earning a BSN include the rigorous curriculum, fast pace, need for multitasking, time commitment, personal sacrifices, and NCLEX preparation. However, despite these rigors, it's possible to rise up and master how to succeed in nursing school.

What is the most expensive nursing school? ›

The 5 Most Expensive Nursing Schools in the U.S.
  1. Columbia University.
  2. University of Washington. ...
  3. New York University. ...
  4. Vanderbilt University. ...
  5. Johns Hopkins University. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, JHU offers one of the most expensive nursing programs in the country. ...
Jan 15, 2015

What is the easiest nursing school to get into USA? ›

The easiest nursing school to get into also varies since many nursing schools have high acceptance rates. Based on admission criteria and statistics, the University of Kentucky is the easiest nursing school to get into.

Where is the cheapest to study nursing? ›

Norway. Norway comes in first as the cheapest in the world to pursue a nursing degree since most Norwegian public institutions do charge tuition fees. The best part? All international students qualify for this benefit.

Which state is best for nursing in USA? ›

The Top 10 States for Nurses
  1. 1. California. California offers a desirable place to live and work. ...
  2. Washington. Washington's nurses earn higher average annual salaries than most other states, but they pay more for essentials, such as housing, transportation, and food. ...
  3. New York. ...
  4. Texas. ...
  5. Arizona. ...
  6. Delaware. ...
  7. Colorado. ...
  8. Massachusetts.

What is the 1 month salary of nurse in USA? ›

Monthly: Though registered nurses are typically paid weekly or biweekly, understanding monthly salary can help in terms of budgeting.
What Is the Average Salary of a Registered Nurse?
Hourly Wage$39.78
Monthly Salary$6,900
Annual Salary$82,750
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021)

What is a RN salary? ›

Which nurse has best salary in USA? ›

In the United States overall, the average registered nurse salary is $82,750 and the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. California, with RN salaries averaging $124,000, is the highest-paying state for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What is pharmacist salary? ›

How many hours a week do nurses work USA? ›

Typically, nurses either work eight, 10 or 12-hour shifts. A nurse's shifts can vary depending on factors such as location, demand and personal preference. Full-time nurses work between 36 and 40 hours a week, while part-time nurses usually work less than 30 hours a week.

What is the most an RN can make an hour? ›

How Much Do RN Jobs Pay per Hour?
Annual SalaryHourly Wage
Top Earners$107,000$51
75th Percentile$86,500$42
25th Percentile$60,500$29

How long do you have to pay off nursing school? ›

Experts expect students who graduated in 2021 to pay off their student loans between 8-19 years while paying $669 per month. Ultimately, how long it takes to pay off nursing school loans depends on the amount of money borrowed, the interest rate, and repayment habits.

Do hospitals offer loan forgiveness? ›

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration offers a student loan repayment program (among other assistance programs) to eligible health care professionals. To qualify for forgiveness, you'll need to be licensed and work in an eligible discipline.

Do I get student loan forgiveness? ›

Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness? To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have federal student loans and earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household). Borrowers who meet that criteria can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation.

Are nursing school loans forgiven? ›

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers student loan forgiveness for nurses who are working full time for a government or nonprofit organization by paying off the remainder of their loans after the first 120 payments.

How to avoid debt nursing school? ›

Debt-Free Ways to Pay for Your Nursing Program
  1. Nursing Scholarships. Scholarships are essentially free money you don't pay back. ...
  2. Tuition Reimbursement for Nurses. If you already work in healthcare, your employer may reimburse you for tuition expenses for nursing school. ...
  3. Crowdfunding Your Nursing Education.
Nov 26, 2021

Can a school nurse negotiate salary? ›

Entry-level school nurses with advanced practice credentials or a specified number of credit hours in professional development coursework may also be able to negotiate higher starting salaries.

How do people pay off nursing school? ›

Assistance programs offered through your employer as part of your employment benefits. Income-driven repayment plans (IDR) such as Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

What nursing class is the hardest? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
  • Pharmacology. ...
  • Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
  • Evidence-Based Practice.

How to survive nursing school with a full time job? ›

With these few simple tips it could help make your life attending nursing school while working full-time a little less stressful:
  1. Stay Organized. Staying organized is an essential part of balancing work, school and life. ...
  2. Incorporate Downtime. ...
  3. Get Active. ...
  4. Say “Yes” to Saying “No”

What is the easiest nursing degree to get? ›

An LPN or LVN program usually takes around a year to complete, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). What makes an LPN or LVN preparation program the easiest type of nursing education you can pursue is its focus on training for basic nursing services only and its quick completion time.

What is the shortest nursing program? ›

Certified Nursing Assistant

A CNA program is a fast-paced program that only takes a couple of months to fully complete. After graduation, students can enter the field right away, assisting nurses with patient work in a wide variety of settings.

What states are easiest to get a nursing license? ›

What Are the Fastest States to Get Nursing Licenses In?
  • Texas.
  • Vermont.
  • California.
  • Colorado.
  • New Jersey.
  • New York.
  • Tennessee.
  • Need help navigating any of the state processes in preparation to work as a travel nurse? Let us give you a hand!
Mar 25, 2020

Why do so many people fail nursing school? ›

Some of the common reasons nurses drop out of nursing school include poor time management skills, overwhelming stress, bad study habits, and difficulty taking the new NCLEX-style questions on exams.

Do most people fail out of nursing school? ›

Nursing school is difficult and will be hard to pass. Most students pass their nursing program, so you can too. How many nursing students fail? According to the National League of Nursing, the dropout rate for nursing programs in the United States is around 20%.

What is the hardest semester of nursing school? ›

Without question, the most difficult semester for me was the last semester of my junior year in nursing school. I attended a 4-year BSN program, and that particular semester included three classes that were very content-heavy, as well as the corresponding clinical hours for those classes.

What is the best degree for a nurse? ›

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The minimum requirement for many nursing positions these days is a BSN. The BSN is the best degree for those who want to prepare for future higher education and career advancement opportunities and launch a career as a: Registered Nurse.

What is the highest GPA for nursing? ›

A GPA above 3.0 would be a good GPA for nursing school. That's the requirement for some programs. If you have aspirations for graduate school, you might need a GPA closer to a 4.0, depending on the school or degree you want.

What college had the best nursing program? ›

Here are the 2023 Best Nursing Schools: Master's
  • Johns Hopkins University.
  • Duke University.
  • Emory University (Woodruff)
  • University of Pennsylvania.
  • University of Washington.
  • Columbia University.
  • Ohio State University.
  • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor.

What is 1 year nursing course in us? ›

LPN or LVN Programs

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) training programs are approximately one year long. An LPN/LVN works under the direction of a registered nurse. LPN/LVN programs are offered at many colleges throughout the United States.

How long is a nursing degree in USA? ›

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Takes 4 years. Also referred to as Baccalaureate degree. Offered at many California State Universities and some private colleges.

How long is a nursing course in us? ›

Depending on the specific nursing program that you enroll in, it could take anywhere from 16 months to four years to become a registered nurse. “I chose to earn my BSN, which takes four years,” says ChiChi Akanegbu, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Regis College as a part of the Class of 2020.

How long is a nursing diploma in USA? ›

On average, an incoming nursing student can expect to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) in roughly three years. This is after a student fully completes the academic program at an accredited college or university.

What is the shortest program to become a nurse? ›

The fastest way to become an RN is through an RN diploma program, which can be completed in as little as a year. While completing this program does not lead to a degree, it does make the individual eligible to take the NCLEX and earn their RN license.

Is a 2 year nursing degree hard? ›

You're headed for a great career, one that's rewarding, challenging, and always exciting. But nursing school is notoriously difficult. Most nursing programs require high GPAs and impressive scores in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other demanding subjects. It's also extremely fulfilling.

What's the shortest nursing program? ›

Certified Nursing Assistant

A CNA program is a fast-paced program that only takes a couple of months to fully complete. After graduation, students can enter the field right away, assisting nurses with patient work in a wide variety of settings.

What kind of nurses get paid most? ›

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earn a median salary of $195,610 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the top paying nursing specialty.

How can I become a nurse fast in USA? ›

An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) are the two most common fast track options. With each of these ways to receive nursing instruction, they require passing the NCLEX licensure examination.

Is nursing hard in USA? ›

Nursing requires more dedication than many other careers. However, it's one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Nursing school is notoriously difficult—and it's not for everyone. Graduate school is challenging as well.

What are the requirements to study nursing in USA? ›

Required documents
  • A graduated Bachelor's degree.
  • Official transcript of records (grade list)
  • GPA scores.
  • A resume with relevant experience in the field of Nursing.
  • Letters of recommendation from past teachers or employers.
  • Recommender's contact information.
  • A letter of motivation or personal essay.
Nov 17, 2022

Can I study nursing in USA for free? ›

Berea College

Among this list of free nursing schools, Berea College is a private school in Kentucky, USA. It is known for offering quality education to students without high price tags. All students enjoy free tuition and only need to pay for books, meals, and housing.

What education do you need for nursing in the USA? ›

You will need either a nursing diploma from an accredited RN program, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor's degree in nursing. Prepare to sit for the nurse licensing exam. Take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).

How much does diploma nursing pay in us? ›

According to our 100% employer reported salary sources the median salary for a Staff Nurse - RN I with a High School Diploma or Technical Certificate is $62,309 - $66,347.

Which is the best course in nursing? ›

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is designed to prepare nurses for the highest clinical practice level in nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

How much does a nurse with a diploma earn in USA? ›

Diploma of Nursing (DN) Jobs by Salary
Job TitleRangeAverage
Job Title:Registered Nurse (RN)Range:$52k - $104kAverage:$76,795
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)Range:$37k - $68kAverage:$50,815
Director, NursingRange:$60k - $113k (Estimated *)Average:$81,969
Executive DirectorRange:$48k - $119k (Estimated *)Average:$73,564
3 more rows


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