Nurses seem to always be in high demand, so it’s no wonder that there are more than 2,000 nursing schools in the United States.
Picking the right school is an important decision, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to:
- Have an idea of which nursing career path you want to take.
- Know what you’ll need for nursing school.
- Have a plan for how to afford your tuition, fees, and living expenses.
- Understand how to get the best student loans for nursing school.
With this guide, you’ll get the information you need to start your path toward becoming a nurse on the right foot.
Picking the right nursing school for you
With so many options to choose from, picking the right nursing school can feel like a monumental task. Unless you already have an idea of where you want to go, here are some factors to consider:
- Which program do you want to pursue? Some schools offer better programs than others in certain specialties. Check school rankings to see how the schools you’re interested in stack up.
- How many students attend? A smaller study body can mean smaller class sizes and more attention from your professors.
- Where is the school located? You’ll need to consider how far away you want to move to attend school.
- What’s campus life like? You’ll want to attend a school where you feel comfortable and at home. Research information about campus life to see which school provides the best fit for you.
- How much is it going to cost? Some schools charge much more tuition than others, and if the value the school provides isn’t equally impressive, you may just end up with a similar starting salary and a lot more debt.
Once you’ve narrodown your list of options to a few, plan to visit each campus if you’re financially able to do so. Also, look into the school’s accreditation status, and ask the admissions office about NCLEX exam pass rates for each college.
Comeligibility requirements for nursing school
Every school has its own criteria for approved prerequisites, and requirements can also vary based on the program you choose. As a result, you’ll want to check with each school that you’re interested in to find out what you need to do to get in. However, some comrequirements include:
- A high school diploma.
- Various science courses, including anatomy and physiology, nutrition, developmental psychology, biology, and more.
- A minimum grade point average of 3.0 — though associate programs may go down to a GPA of 2.5. Just keep in mind that the higher your GPA, the better your chances, especially if it’s a competitive school.
- Passing an entrance exam, such as the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam or others accepted by your chosen school.
- A certain number of volunteer hours.
Again, check with the schools you’re considering, to find out exactly what they require for you to be admitted.
How to apply to nursing school and what you’ll need
Even if you have an idea of which school you want to attend, it’s best to apply to at least two or three programs in case you don’t get your first choice — it also gives you more options if you receive multiple acceptance letters.
That said, nursing schools can be competitive, and it’s possible to get denied even if you have outstanding grades. Start by checking with each school to determine their requirements, then go through the application process as outlined on each school’s website.
As you fill out the application, be careful to avoid spelling and grammatical errors, take the time to polish your resume and plan to submit it well before the deadline.
Finally, make a good impression at entrance interviews by showing up early, dressing professionally, and preparing for questions you might get.
If you don’t get approved, it can be devastating. But remember that you can apply again in the future and work in the meantime to boost your chances of acceptance. To improve your chances of getting approved, make sure you complete all your volunteer hours, and consider getting a job in healthcare to show that you’re experienced. It can also help to get your Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate — it usually takes just a few months to complete.
How to afford nursing school
Nursing can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not cheap to get through nursing school. The best way to pay for your education is through ways that don’t involve debt, such as scholarships and grants.
However, if you still need some assistance, you may need to apply for federal or private student loans to bridge the gap. In general, the best student loans for nursing school are federal student loans, because they don’t require a credit check, often offer lower interest rates, and come with several benefits including:
- Access to student loan forgiveness programs
- Eligibility for government-sponsored loan repayment assistance programs
- Income-driven repayment plans
- Generous deferment and forbearance options
You also may have multiple options, including graduate loans and graduate PLUS loans.
That said, if your credit and income are currently in great shape — or you have a creditworthy cosigner who can apply with you — you may be able to qualify for lower rates and great terms with a private lender.
Take your time to compare your options, including interest rates, fees, and other features. Check to see what your options are if you can’t make your monthly payments in the future and need financial assistance.
The important thing is to shop around and research several options before you decide on one.
With Purefy’s Compare Rates tool, you can view interest rate quotes from multiple lenders with no impact on your credit whatsoever. You’ll be able to compare rates side by side, then compare those rates with what you’d get with federal loans.
This process can take a little time to complete, but scoring even a slightly lower interest rate can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life if your loans.
The final word
Nursing school can provide you with the path toward the career you want, but it’s important to understand the process of getting in and how to pay for your education. With these tips, you’ll get a good head start.