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Financing an MSN Degree

One of the biggest challenges of earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree arises before students set foot in the classroom. The perceived difficulties of financing an education prevent many qualified candidates from pursuing a graduate degree in nursing. However, financial assistance is available and comes from a wide variety of sources, suitable for candidates with varying needs.

The most widely used resource for financial aid for an MSN degree is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. government’s Federal Student Aid program helps students find sources of financial assistance through a free application process. Federal aid comes in several forms — grants, loans and work-study opportunities. The program provides as much as $150 million to more than 13 million students, including nurses who are working on their MSN degrees.

Numerous Scholarships Available for Nursing Students

Scholarships are available through public companies and private organizations, and many of these are specifically for nursing students. Graduate nursing scholarships are awarded based on need, merit, city or state of residence, or the school itself. In addition, some graduate nursing scholarships are available to students who meet unique qualifications such as ethnicity or heritage, membership in an organization and intended specialty. provides a comprehensive list of available scholarships throughout the U.S.

The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, provides additional scholarship opportunities. These scholarship awards help students complete their MSN degree programs. Organizations such as the National Student Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing Foundation for Nursing Education provide this funding.

The high-profile, higher-education funding resource Fastweb compiles an even broader range of scholarship categories. This free matching service connects students with targeted awards like graduate nursing scholarships based on detailed, user-submitted profiles.

Understand Scholarships’ Stipulations

When pursuing and accepting financial aid, graduate students need to understand the disbursement of each type of funding, any continued funding requirements and any use or repayment policies. Graduate nursing scholarships may cover one or more semesters, up to the length of an entire program. They may require students to maintain a minimum GPA for the life of the scholarship, and they may require that students compose thank-you notes to scholarship organizations or individual donors.

Scholarships occasionally require students to work for the awarding organization during the final year, semester or just after graduation for a certain period of time. Other organizations award scholarships in the form of work-study programs; similar to federal work-study programs, the organization disburses funds to the school where the student is enrolled.

Grants and Loans Can Help Working Nurses

Similar to scholarships, grant funds do not have to be repaid. The awarding organization determines eligibility based on financial need. Need-based grants can provide additional assistance to students pursuing an MSN degree, as many of them may be working full time while earning their degrees.

Student loans are also awarded based on need and can be subsidized or unsubsidized. These loans differ in how they apply interest to repayment. Students pursuing an MSN degree are eligible for unsubsidized loans, which accrue interest during enrollment. Loans from other educational lenders may have their own rules for repayment.

Regardless of the source, funding that helps students earn their degrees pays dividends in the forms of marketable skills and improved career paths.

Learn more about the Lamar University online MSN program.


Get help paying for college. (n.d.).

Nursing Scholarship Opportunities. (n.d.).

What is Fastweb? (n.d.).

Find a Scholarship. (n.d.).

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