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Nursing School Cost in Dollars and Time – Is It Worth It?

Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
By SimpleNursing | Published June 20th, 2022
Published June 20th, 2022
Young African American Black nursing student comparing nursing school costs

Going into nursing school is already stressful, it’s expensive, and costs can weigh heavy on students.

Nursing school costs are high in dollars with tuition, living expenses, and other fees. But it’s worth it for your future.

You should plan to attend at least two years of college before going to graduate school for another two or three years of specialized training, depending on whether you want to become a nursing professional.

There are so many options for nursing graduates, and the costs can be worth it with the right planning and support.

How much is nursing school?

The short answer – a lot.

Nursing school costs depend on many factors, including your career path, the program you choose, and school location. Generally, there are Associate (2 years), Bachelor’s (4 years), Master’s (2 years), and Doctorate’s (4 years) degree programs.

And before you step into the door, most nursing schools require prospective students to pass the TEAS exam.

Tuition fees are the largest and main cost of nursing school attendance, along with books, supplies, uniforms, and other fees usually written in smaller print.

Other costs outside of school include housing, food expenses, and transportation. And don’t forget the cost in emotional labor from classroom lectures, labs, and studying hours.

Average cost of nursing school 

The average cost of nursing school ranges from the single-digit thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Some states have higher tuition rates than others, even when factoring in in-state or out-of-state residents.

To save on tuition costs and time spent in school, some students opt for a nursing practitioner career path. 

Want to know where nurses make the most money? Check out our state-by-state guide here.

Students who enroll in accelerated programs may be able to shorten their time in school and reduce their tuition expenses by earning two bachelor’s degrees at once (for example, an AAS in Nursing with an AA or AS in Business).

Cost of Nursing Schools by Degree

It’s easiest to break down average nursing school costs by degree for both registered nursing and practitioner nursing professionals.

Tuition costs are dependent upon the length of study time required to complete your degree program. The total cost of your nursing education also depends on the type of school you attend, whether it’s public or private, its location, and online course availability.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Registered nurses need at least a two-year degree to practice, making Associate’s degrees a great option for those wanting to get their education quickly. It takes about two years as well as another six months for clinical training before receiving your state license as an RN.

Associate Degrees in Nursing (ADN) can cost $2,000-$4,000 per year at public universities, while private universities charge up to $25,000 per year.

Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN)

An ASN typically takes two to four years to complete (depending on the school), and can cost anywhere from $2,500-$15,000 per year. However, some private universities charge anywhere between $40,000 – $60,000 for their ASN degree programs.

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS)

If the tuition for these degrees sounds like too much money right now, consider going for an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS). This will get you into the field faster and allow you to work while continuing your education. 

This type of nursing degree is typically offered at community colleges or technical schools. It may take 2 years to complete and can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $18,000.

You could also choose to pursue an AAS degree if you want to specialize later on down the line by earning another degree.

Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BDN)

As one of the most popular degrees for registered nurses, the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BDN) can cost $7,500 to $10,000 per year on the low-end from public universities. 

Is your school requiring a passing TEAS score? Find out how to pass it on the first try.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

If you’re looking for a few years’ worth of hands-on experience with real patients, check out the 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.

If Bachelor’s programs (and above) are too daunting, there are options for career RNs. Registered nurses with ADNs can take an RN-to-BSN program, costing an average of $24,000.

Master’s Degree in Nursing (MDN)

But if you want more advanced knowledge and expertise, consider going for a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MDN). This will teach you the ins and outs of patient care and management and how to run a medical facility or department.

At minimum, a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MDN) costs $15,000 to $20,000 per year (not including Associate’s or Bachelor’s programs).

Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Master’s degrees are great for those wanting the second-highest level of education in nursing. Other careers, including nurse leader, administrator, and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) usually require a Master’s degree.

Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

If you have even more time and energy on your hands, Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs allow you to become an expert on a specific medical topic.

As the highest level of education for nursing students, this is a great degree for those wanting to be leaders in nursing.

The doctorate program alone costs $20,000-$60,000 – not including any other degree program.

How much does it cost to become a registered nurse or nurse practitioner?

The cost of becoming a registered nurse is more than practitioner nursing and may require more time in school and clinicals.

Most online nurse practitioner programs are less expensive than traditional schools. However, there are still significant costs associated with them, including textbooks and other supplies like computers or software subscriptions required by professors.

Before stepping into a new job or practice, nursing students have to pass the NCLEX exam, which costs $200 per attempt. Taking the NCLEX exam a second (or even third, fourth, etc) time costs more in studying, coursework, and time.  

How to Pay for Nursing School 

Consider yourself lucky if you are in a position to pay for nursing school without any financial aid or loans.

But you have options if you’re looking for a way to finance your nursing degree. In addition, you can do some volunteer work in the field that gives you valuable experience and training. 

Here’s how each form of financial aid can work for you:

Loans: Both private and public loans are available for those willing to take on the debt. Make sure to closely examine loan terms, especially for interest rates.

Federal Student Aid: The U.S. Department of Education and other agencies offer aid for both private and public schools. The most popular service used is FAFSA. Universities and colleges use FAFSA to determine whether or not they’ll offer any type of scholarship or grant money toward your education costs.

Grants and Scholarships: Many organizations exist solely for awarding scholarships based on academic merit, but others are awarded based on other factors such as ethnicity (Minority Nurse Scholarship) or geographic location (Scholars for Healthy Oregon). 

Work-study jobs: In work-study programs, you can work part or full-time at your school or off-campus. Not only can you earn pay, but you can also gain relevant work experience.

Earn a scholarship for the 2022 school year through SimpleNursing.

Hidden Costs of Nursing School

When calculating the total cost of nursing school, tuition and all, you should make some wiggle room for sudden or hidden costs from school.

Some schools have additional fees which vary, but can run anywhere from $50-$500. Keep a look at for fees on your tuition bill that include:

  • Late registration fees
  • Parking permits or parking fines
  • Replacement of lost ID cards or keys to buildings
  • Transportation expenses (while traveling between different clinical sites)
  • Medical equipment (like scrubs or a stethoscope) 

All in all, it’s a lot in dollars, time, and energy. Is it worth it for your future? 

Is nursing school worth it?

Nursing is a career that will last a lifetime. It’s a job that pays well, in most cases, and the demand for nurses is always high. 

While getting into nursing school is expensive, it’s an investment in your future—and there are scholarships and grants available to help cover costs.

Nursing school costs are a major consideration when deciding whether or not to attend nursing school.

Nursing is an increasingly in-demand field, and after graduation, you can work at almost any medical institution. So when you plan your nursing education, don’t forget the potential payoff after graduation.

Set yourself up for success with the best nursing school resource out there.

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Nurse Mike (Mike Linares)
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