Finance Your Nursing Program: A Guide to Securing Nursing Scholarships

Finance Your Nursing Program: A Guide to Securing Nursing Scholarships

Posted on Dec 19, 2023

Completing an accredited nursing program can be a key step in fast-tracking a rewarding career in healthcare. But don’t let program costs hinder you! Nursing scholarships, nursing grants, and work opportunities are some of the best ways to offset education fees.

This guide covers different types of nursing school scholarships and nursing loan forgiveness programs available. We also offer tips to streamline your application process.

Looking for an accredited nursing program? Explore the top healthcare colleges and universities in Virginia to start your nursing career!

When to Start Applying for Nursing Scholarships

Start researching nursing scholarships as soon as you’ve chosen a college, university, or accredited program. Many programs have deadlines at the beginning of the semester, so it’s best to apply early in the school year.

Additionally, finding the right scholarship can be time-consuming. Make the most of your available resources, such as online databases, career counselors, and financial aid advisors, to streamline your search.

Financial Aid Office
Financial advisors and career counselors focus on helping nursing students pay for their education. Leverage them to learn about nursing school scholarships that other students have applied to with high success rates.

Online Resources
Online databases can help update you on the latest scholarships, and you can sort them to match your specific needs. On Board Virginia highlights leading financial aid opportunities for healthcare professionals in Virginia.

Nonprofits & Local Government Agencies
Professional nursing associations, state agencies, and local government agencies may raise funding for nursing students. We recommend checking the Virginia Department of Health for nursing grants and repayment programs.

Scholarship Organizations
Scholarship organizations (backed by nonprofits and corporate entities) provide financial aid, often based on merit, future work, research, or other eligibility requirements. There are both local and national scholarship organizations available to assist. But keep in mind that national scholarship organizations will be more competitive than local ones.

Research Employers
Future employers may offer scholarship opportunities or student loan repayment in exchange for research or work contracts. If your school has a strong relationship with an employer or if you have a future employer in mind, ask their HR team for information on education repayment.

Be sure to look for scholarships specific to your area of study or your demographic and check the eligibility requirements before applying.

Virginia Scholarships Available for Nursing Students

When comparing financial aid opportunities, consider the different types of scholarships available and apply to the ones that make the most sense for your situation. Note that some scholarships are available for current students and graduates, so be sure to check the eligibility requirements.

Academic Scholarships
Scholarships awarded based on academic achievement, GPA, or test scores.

Need-Based Scholarships
Scholarships awarded based on financial needs and additional criteria.

Merit-Based Scholarships
Scholarships awarded based on exceptional achievements such as community service, leadership, or other extracurriculars.

Professional Scholarships
Scholarships awarded to nursing students in exchange for professional work. Typical work involves 1–2 years of employment at the institution upon program completion or research work.

Diversity Scholarships
Scholarships awarded to students from underrepresented backgrounds. It can be based on need, merit, and other criteria.

Military Scholarships
Scholarships awarded to nursing students in the U.S. military or veterans.

Private Scholarships
Scholarships funded by individuals or organizations outside of the program’s institution. That could be a corporate entity, local credit union, community bank, or private foundation.

Virginia offers several scholarships to nurses and other healthcare professionals. We’ve included a list of popular nursing scholarships organized by the Virginia Department of Health below.

Mary Marshall Nursing Scholarships (LPN, RN)

Application cycle: February 1, 2024–April 1, 2024

Students living in Virginia for at least one year and enrolled either full or part-time in a nursing program for licensure (LPN, RN) can apply to receive up to $2,000 per year for up to four years in exchange for service in Virginia after graduation.

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

Mary Marshall Nursing Scholarships (CNA)

Application cycle: rolling

Students enrolled in or graduated from an approved Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program can apply for CNA scholarships up to $1,000.

CNAs who have graduated and obtained licensure or certification within one year of their application and are currently employed, under contract, or are enrolled in a program to initiate the licensure process with an employer with an anticipated employment start date are also eligible.

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

Virginia Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Midwife and Nurse Educator Scholarship Programs

Application cycle: September 1, 2023–November 30, 2023

The Nurse Practitioner/Nurse Midwife Scholarship Program provides scholarship awards to students who agree to practice full-time as a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Midwife in a medically underserved area of Virginia.

The Nurse Educator Scholarship Program is for part-time and full-time Master’s and doctoral-level nursing students. All programs require residency in Virginia for at least one year and full or part-time enrollment in the appropriate educational program along with submission of a completed application and other required materials.

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

Virginia Nursing Preceptor Incentive Program

Application cycle: rolling

Initially established by the General Assembly in 2021, the Nursing Preceptor Incentive Program provides financial incentives for practitioners who serve as otherwise uncompensated preceptors for APRN students.

The Fiscal Year 2024 funding includes $3.0 million additional in funding to expand the cap amount and new language that expands the criteria to include preceptors for RN students.

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

Loan Repayment Programs

Besides nursing student scholarships, loan repayment programs are common ways to help nursing students cover their educational costs. These programs will repay or forgive portions of student loans in return for work.

Nurses and healthcare professionals who provide medical services at not-for-profit organizations or government-backed institutions can apply for loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program helps licensed registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and nurse faculty (NF) employed full-time in critical shortage facilities or an accredited school of nursing in under-served areas. Aid is awarded based on the highest need in exchange for two years of service at an eligible site.

Some employers will also offer nursing loan forgiveness programs as part of state-wide efforts to bolster the healthcare workforce. See our list of helpful loan repayment programs for healthcare professionals in Virginia below.

Virginia State Loan Repayment Programs

Application cycle: January 1, 2024–March 31, 2024

The Virginia State Loan Repayment Program (VA-SLRP) is a federal grant from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), Bureau of Health Professions, and is administered by the VDH OHE. VA-SLRP provides educational loan repayment to participants in exchange for a commitment of at least two years of service in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) within Virginia.

Healthcare professionals, both full and part-time, who have received training in several disciplines are eligible to apply to VA-SLRP. These include:

Registered nurses
Nurse practitioners
Nurse midwives
Psychiatric nurse specialists
Physician assistants
Registered dental hygienists
Mental health counselors
Health service psychologists
Licensed clinical social workers
Licensed professional counselors
Alcohol and abuse counselors (Master’s level)
Marriage and family therapists

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

Virginia Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program

Application cycle: October 1, 2023–April 15, 2024

Funded initially by the General Assembly in the Fiscal Year 2021, the Virginia Behavioral Health Student Loan Repayment Program (BH-LRP) received an additional $1.5 million in Fiscal Year 2024 to help recruit and retain behavioral health (BH) professionals to practice in underserved areas of the Commonwealth and/or provide counseling and treatment to underserved populations.

This program repays a portion of an eligible BH professional’s student loan debt. In return, recipients commit to practicing in Virginia for two years minimum at an eligible site.

The BH professional must possess a valid and unrestricted license to practice in Virginia as one of the following:

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists
Psychiatric Physician Assistants
Psychiatric Pharmacists
Licensed Clinical Psychologists
Licensed Professional Counselors
Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Find the full eligibility requirements and application process here.

What to Consider When Applying for Nursing School Scholarships

When applying for scholarships, prioritize programs that fit your needs and qualifications. Read the criteria carefully to ensure you’re eligible for the award, and complete the application as thoroughly as possible. The top components to consider are:

Eligibility Requirements
Do you fit the criteria necessary for the award? This includes your enrollment or employment status, location, and agreement to work.

Some scholarships require additional paperwork such as academic transcripts or proof of employment. Check the required documents list and request your documents as soon as possible.

Personal Statement
Your personal statement should showcase your accomplishments, career goals, and personal drive. Tailor your statement to the essay prompts.

Letters of Recommendation
Ask for letters of recommendation from faculty or other individuals early. You want to build a rapport with faculty who can attest to your achievements while giving them enough time to write the letter.

Timeline & Follow-Up
Each scholarship has a different deadline. Keep track of your schedule by marking the deadline on your calendar. Once you apply for a scholarship, follow up with the scholarship provider if you haven’t received a confirmation email. You may need to provide additional information or documentation, so it’s important to check your email regularly and contact the program as needed.

Staying organized can help streamline your application process while reducing your stress. Follow our tips to stay on top of your scholarships!

Can I Apply for More Than One Nursing Scholarship at a Time?

Yes, you can apply to as many scholarships as you like. This can work in your favor if you earn several smaller scholarships that add up. We recommend searching for a combination of large and smaller scholarships, prioritizing the programs most relevant to you. When in doubt, work with your college or university financial aid office to follow best practices.

Jumpstart Your Nursing Education

Applying to nursing scholarships doesn’t have to be stressful, nor should it stop you from pursuing a calling in healthcare!

Look through college resources, online databases, and local institutions to source the best financial aid opportunities. Start early to stay ahead of the curve. Then, track each scholarship deadline, documentation process, and eligibility requirements to keep organized. If you’re a graduate, research programs that offer loan repayment in exchange for research or work.

Now that you’ve applied for your scholarship, it’s time to consider where to work after completing your program. Find in-demand healthcare roles in Virginia using On Board Virginia’s job board!