How to Save Money While Attending a Nurse Practitioner Program

save money

Money is tight during school for many traditional undergraduate nursing students. Common expenses that place a strain on a college budget include; housing, tuition, uniforms, travel to clinical sites, and nursing textbooks. Furthermore, nursing students may not have time to a work a part time job due to time constraints due a heavy course load and clinical rotations. When a nurse decides to attend a nurse practitioner program, they are usually at least in their mid-twenties with personal financial obligations that far exceed the ones that they had in undergraduate nursing school.

Also, most students seeking admission to nurse practitioner school are already practicing nurses whose lifestyles, bills, and spending habits have been shaped by a Registered Nurse’s salary. Unfortunately, if a nurse chooses to attend as a full time nurse practitioner student, they will need to work less or not at all once their clinical rotations begin. Considering these issues, are you wavering in your decision to pursue advanced education? Know that financial planning strategies can help make this lifestyle transition easier. Additionally, there are several ways to save money while in nurse practitioner school.

Financial Considerations:

  • Consider attending a program part-time. Part time school attendance may allow you additional time to work. This could provide a financial cushion if your savings is not where it needs to be, or if debt is an issue. Or, you could try working full time while completing classroom coursework and part-time or not at all during clinical rotations.
  • Consider having a backup savings account, and all of your debt eliminated. Some programs are academically intense due to the format or the specialty and therefore do not allow students to work. For example, some Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) programs discourage or do not allow their students to work during the program. Or, you may find that your original plans to work while in school are not feasible due to other life commitments such as family obligations.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. If you need to drastically change your lifestyle and spending habits in order to save for or attend nurse practitioner school, start immediately. Tracking your spending and developing a realistic budget is the first step in gaining control of your finances.  If budgeting and eliminating unnecessary expenses is difficult, seek  personal financial counseling. A trial run of a new budget should be done well before your program begins in order to determine if it is feasible.

Money Saving Tips:

  • Compare tuition and costs carefully between schools. Costs vary widely between programs, such as the tuition prices of a public university versus a for profit college. How are the programs ranked? Do your research to find the best value for your money.
  • When obtaining school loans choose wisely. Do not take out more than your actually need. Research the best loans with the lowest payment options that have excellent repayment terms. Interest on large loans adds up quickly, so it is worth the time and effort to research. Also, you may qualify for government programs that can assist you in loan repayment.
  • If you live in rural area, travel may be required in order to complete clinical rotations. Travel costs such as gas, meals, and hotel rooms add up. Avoid traveling if at all possible. If you must travel, try carpooling or split lodging costs with another student. Significant savings are possible.
  • Rent textbooks. Nursing books can become outdated rapidly. Consider renting them if available or buying used. Or, find students that are a semester or two ahead and borrow their books.
  • Cutting your personal expenses is the easiest way to save money. Unfortunately, tuition, clinical rotations, and textbooks are all required as the cost of school attendance. Your personal budget is one area that you have the greatest control over when it comes to saving money. “How to save money” is a hot topic on Pinterest and there is no shortage of strategies to cut expenses. There are also many blogs on this topic. A word of advice, do not cut costs associated with your health and well being, there is always a cost associated with doing this in the end. For example, living off ramen noodles may save you money now, but years of unhealthy eating could cost you by affecting your long-term health.  You are making an investment in your future by advancing your education and employment opportunities so be sure to make healthy choices so you can enjoy the outcome of your hard work.

What are some of your suggestions for saving money while in nurse practitioner school? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

Erica MacDonald

Erica RN, BSN, MSN's nursing clinical experience has been in neonatal intensive care (NICU) and Labor & Delivery. She currently works as a nurse educator and nurse writer. In her writing business, she saves educators and businesses time while supporting their mission.

Join Erica each week as she discusses nursing education, careers, and advice for prospective nurse practitioners or anyone interested in learning more about the profession. In the meantime, follow Erica on Google+.