First of all congrats on getting in!!!! I'm sure you're feeling great at the moment, so don't let this boggle your mind
well your program set-up is a little different than ours. because ours started in the summer, pretty much everyone had to take out student loans for the summe portion because the federal loans (the $18,500 everyone pretty much gets from the FAFSA unless you made too much money last year) don't qualify in the summer.
the first thing to do is to research your options. the best loan companies that i know my fellow classmates and i have used are Citibank, Bank of America, FannyMae, etc. most of these (i personally chose citibank because they offered a lower interest rate if my parents co-signed the loan) offer student loans specifically for graduate students and you can apply for the exact amount you will need based on your tuition, living expenses, car payments, etc. Then when your federal loans come through, you pick a lender who will distribute that money to you. I stuck with Citibank again only becuase it's easier to manage my money that way.
As far as scholarships
go, it's a little tough to find ones that qualify for our type of program. Because you guys are doing your masters and licence at the same time, you may be able to find more masters-based ones than we could, but a lot of them are either for BSN students or masters students who are already working nurses. However, the School of Nursing automatically gives out a few scholarships and grants to students they think need the extra help. It's not a LOT of money, but I did receive somewhere close to $7000 total. (These aren't things you apply for, they just send you a nice letter in the mail one day and you jump up and down really excited)
Phew! Ok, I know it's confusing. Trust me, I was in your same shoes when I started last summer!!! I had never dealt with loans before let alone calling loan companies and trying to understand their different interest rates.
One last thing. Here's the good news and bad news. Bad news is you'll probably end up taking out a large portion of your expenses in loans, unless you are fortunate enough to have some money saved up. I was on the end where I had to borrow everything. Here's the good news: California offers a loan-buyback program that once you have your licence (so after your 2 years of school) you can pledge to work for 2 years at an "underserved population hospital" (which two of them happen to be Scripps Mercy and Scripps Chula Vista, both great hospitals). Then the government will pay back 60-80% of your loans, depending on how long you end up working there.
So don't feel stressed just yet
The way I've come to terms with it, is its just another investment in my life that I will be paying back for a few years. Just like buying a house, car, etc.
If you have any other questions I can always give you my email too