What Kind of Nursing Programs Offer the Most Scholarship and Grant Opportunities?

What Kind of Nursing Programs Offer the Most Scholarship and Grant Opportunities?

Traditional nursing licensure programs are all effectively the same. To become an RN, you need to complete a program that meets a set of standards established by the federal government. 

This means that there isn’t very much program variation— and therefore comparable scholarship opportunities across various degree paths. 

The highest concentration of scholarship opportunities is for baccalaureate programs. Traditional four-year degrees. There may also be a smaller range of opportunities for people pursuing accelerated or other non-traditional options.

You may even find scholarship opportunities for graduate programs. If you want to become an FNP, for example, you will need to get your master’s degree. Award money may be harder to come by, but it is out there. 

The most important factor is not what nursing program you pick. It’s how you pursue scholarship opportunities. In this article, we take a look at how to get the most scholarship and grant opportunities. 

Develop a Strong Application

The most important step is to develop an extremely competitive application. Good grades are outstanding. Straight A’s will earn you some money. However, for highly competitive full-ride opportunities, it will take more. These scholarships may have fifteen highly qualified applicants for every award they have to offer. 

You need things on your application that set you apart. 

  • Extracurriculars: A well-balanced list of extracurricular activities accomplishes several things. First, it shows that you contribute actively to your academic community. They also demonstrate your ability to balance multiple responsibilities at once. Getting great grades is impressive. Managing it while also participating in activities every day after school is even better. 
  • Volunteer: Volunteer hours demonstrate your willingness to give back to the community—a central concept to scholarship opportunities in the first place. The idea behind a scholarship is not exactly to reward someone for doing good work. They are designed to give high-achieving individuals opportunities so that they may contribute to the world around them later once they have graduated. 
  • Consider getting a job: Even working a paid job can set your application apart. If you can do all of the things we described above while working part-time, it will further demonstrate your ability to balance responsibilities and contribute to your community. 

The key, of course, is to understand your limitations. If you try to juggle too many things and wind up tanking your GPA, it won’t do you any good. Choose opportunities that genuinely interest you, and add new things gradually to your schedule. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. 

Research Opportunities Early

It also helps to develop a keen understanding of what types of scholarships you will be pursuing early on. What criteria do these scholarships have? You may find that adding a few easy things to your resume could increase your eligibility. 

You don’t want to feel around in the dark. It’s better to have a clear understanding of what all of your extracurriculars and volunteer hours are accomplishing in the eyes of a scholarship award committee. 

Start Local

Most people will apply for many different scholarships. Often, it is best to begin looking locally and branch out from there. Why? Church, city, or non-profit-based scholarship/grant opportunities are usually less competitive than those held at the state level. There are fewer people applying. The terms may be specific enough to further limit the candidate pool. 

Once you pick up some low-hanging fruit, you can extend your search outward, looking for more and more opportunities. 

Take Advantage of Minority-Specific Scholarships

Many non-profits will provide grant or scholarship opportunities to minority students. These awards are often easier to get for the same reason described above: fewer applicants. The fewer people who are eligible for the award you are trying to get, the better your chances will be. 

Understand the Difference Between Grants and Scholarships

Scholarships are traditionally merit-based and competitive. Generally, the person with the best transcript gets them. Sometimes, there will be smaller awards that are given out to anyone who meets a certain set of criteria. For example, you may qualify for a scholarship if you are a first-generation college student with a 3.0 GPA or better. 

Generally, however, taking advantage of these opportunities requires an excellent application. 

Grants are not always as competitive. While they may also look at your transcript, they often take other factors into consideration as well. They may be need-based or reflect other criteria not exclusively specific to academic performance. Many people will apply for both, but understanding the difference will help you seize more opportunities. 

If you don’t have the most competitive transcript in the world, you may still be able to get ample award money in the form of grants.

Consider Conditional Opportunities

Some grants and loans come with stipulations. For example, you might come across opportunities that will require you to work in a high-need hospital. In this case, you might need to put in five years at an understaffed rural hospital for the money to truly be yours. If you fail to meet that criteria, the grant or scholarship would transfer into a loan that you would then have to repay. 

These may sound undesirable— perhaps you are very adamant about returning to your hometown after college. Still, it’s not a bad idea to look. Many hospitals fall into the “high need,” category. You may be surprised to find that you can remain in your community and still meet the requirements of many conditional scholarships. 

Remember: It All Adds Up

Many people are disappointed to realize that their transcripts aren’t competitive for higher awards. While that may be disappointing, it’s also not the end of the world. Collecting a few $1000 scholarships may not sound like much compared to a full-ride, but it’s real money. If someone handed you $5000 today, you’d be thrilled. Alternatively, if someone told you you owed $5000 tomorrow, you’d probably be bummed out. 

Every award dollar you get is money you won’t have to pay back over the next fifteen years. Also keep in mind that many smaller awards renew annually, meaning the $1000 scholarship you win may actually be worth $4000 assuming you retain eligibility. Take advantage of every grant and scholarship you can find. They will add up.