When you’re comparing the pros and cons of advancing your nursing career, one question comes to mind: How much is a bachelor's degree in nursing?

Advancing your education will of course come with costs, but these expenses can be hard to accept if you’re already a registered nurse with an associate's degree. However, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing doesn’t need to be a financial burden. In fact, there are several cost-efficient degree programs and opportunities for developing nurses.

Here’s an overview of what costs to expect when going back to school for nursing and how you can pay for your education.

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Understanding the Cost of Nursing School

The average cost of a bachelor’s in nursing is difficult to pinpoint because it depends on both the institution and a student’s educational background. To fully understand your future investment, here are a few factors of your nursing school cost.


The college and program format you choose have the greatest influence on cost.

Tuition expenses often vary based on factors such as the type of institution, the learning method, and the number of required credits. For example, public colleges are typically less expensive than private colleges to make them affordable to more people. Students are also eligible for a reduced tuition cost when attending a public college in their home state versus one in another state.

Since colleges charge a specific cost per credit, programs requiring the most credits are often longer and more expensive. The RN to BS program at Regis College only charges per credit, without hidden fees, making it easy to calculate the cost of a nursing education.

In terms of the program format, most institutions offer a lower cost for online degree programs. In some cases, the tuition cost is the same for remote and traditional programs, but the overall expense is lower for online learning because students don’t pay additional fees related to on-campus living and activities.

Books and Supplies

Whether attending in person or online, prospective nursing students have to factor in the cost of any books and supplies they need to fully participate in classes.

Some online classes require students to purchase digital textbooks and course materials, while others have free or low-cost learning resources. If you’re planning to advance your career through Regis College’s RN to BS program, there won’t be any required lab fees or supplies because the online program doesn’t include a clinical component.

Hidden Costs

Depending on your personal needs and learning environment, you may have secondary costs that are necessary to support your education.

For instance, setting up a dedicated study area and high-speed internet will allow you to learn with minimal distraction and maintain reliable access to coursework. Consider whether you’ll need to purchase a laptop to give yourself more flexibility to access lessons on the go.

Students who plan to stop working or reduce their hours should also think about how a decreased income will affect other expenses.

Six Ways to Navigate the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree

Nursing education costs can appear daunting, but the reality is nursing students have a range of options to make these expenses more manageable.

1. Financial Aid

Apply for financial aid to determine your eligibility for free and subsidized funding options. Programs like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are based on financial need and provide a breakdown of resources available to you, along with your expected contribution.

Financial aid can include grants or scholarships from your academic institution, federal agencies, private foundations, or nonprofits.

Federal loans and work study programs are other types of financial aid. Federal loans are an excellent option if you’re worried about interest accruable. These loans are subsidized with lower interest rates that don't accrue during enrollment. Work study programs on the other hand are on-campus jobs that allow students to earn income while attending, and they offer more flexibility around classes.

Combining all these funding sources can make a significant difference on your out-of-pocket costs.

2. Scholarships and Grants

Grants and scholarships for nursing students are also widely available outside of the federal student aid program.

Any private organization or nonprofit can create awards based on their own criteria, such as the student’s major, ethnicity, gender, athletics, or geographic location. Local public agencies in your state, county, or city may also have scholarships and grants reserved for people from your area.

Research scholarships and grants specific to nursing, degree completion, and other criteria that may apply to you. Scholarship websites also allow you to set filters and quickly identify programs that are a good fit. Even some employers grant scholarships to employees returning to school, so be sure to inquire about programs available through your current job.

3. Transfer Credit Opportunities

Transferring credits from prior coursework can reduce the total cost of a nursing tuition and shorten the time needed to complete a degree. While many colleges offer transfer credit opportunities, RN to BSN programs are specifically designed to build upon existing knowledge and validate past nursing experience.

For instance, Regis College awards 45 credits for associate's degree nursing courses and an active RN license.

4. Employer Reimbursement

Employer-sponsored education programs are not only beneficial to your wallet, but also less competitive than scholarships and grants. Many employers have programs that partially or fully cover the cost of education that improves an employee’s proficiency on the job.

These programs can have different guidelines and terms, but in many cases employers require recipients to remain with the company for a certain number of years after graduating, so keep this in mind before financing your education through one of these programs.

Partnerships between reputable colleges and health science organizations are also very common in nursing.

For example, Regis College has several partnerships with organizations like:

  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Boston Medical Center
  • Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Behavioral Health Network

If you currently or plan to work for an organization on the list, you may be eligible for an employer reimbursement program or discounted tuition if you attend Regis College.

5. Student Loans

If you have exhausted other funding sources or are ineligible for them, unsubsidized student loans or parent loans offer a way to cover the remaining cost of your education.

Unsubsidized loans come in two forms: federal or private.

Federal loans require you to complete a FAFSA application and only allow you to borrow a fixed amount. Private loans, on the other hand, are more expensive due to higher interest rates and less flexible repayment terms.

Both types of loans have their own approval requirements, making it crucial to review all terms closely before accepting them.

6. Budgeting and Planning

Whether you’re planning to pay out of pocket, use financial aid, or a combination of both, don’t underestimate the importance of financial planning for nursing school.

Working with a financial aid office to develop an effective payment plan can make the entire experience easier to navigate. Many colleges allow payment on a per-semester basis, giving students the option to budget based on their family’s income throughout the year.

If necessary, choose a nursing degree program that allows you to pay in installments throughout the semester. Colleges are often willing to come up with an individualized arrangement as long as students are consistently able to pay.

Invest in Your Future in Nursing

While cost is an important factor in choosing to go back to school, the potential return on investment can offer lasting benefits. Earning a bachelor’s degree is a step toward becoming a more competent and versatile healthcare provider with the skills to make a difference in the lives of others.

From a practical standpoint, the growing demand for experienced healthcare professionals ensures a stable job market and competitive salaries. If you want to explore the diverse roles in healthcare down the road, pursuing a BSN is a prudent investment in the future. The RN to BS program at Regis College prepares students to advance their career and focuses on training nurses to be healthcare leaders.

To learn more about this degree completion program, consult Regis admissions counselors to find out if the program aligns with your goals.

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