Help! Should I pay out of state tuition or off put college for a few years??

  1. Hello everyone! I am a new allnurse user, and I need your help. I am a high school senior and I had a bit of a plan to complete my ultimate goal: obtain a BSN, but I might have to alter or change my plan entirely...

    Here is my plan:

    After graduating high school, I would take a gap semester/year (its looking more and more like I will take a year). During this time I would become a CNA, to gain experience and to see if nursing is truly a profession I want to pursue. I would also volunteer, and explore college options, among other things. After finishing my gap year, I plan to attend a community college to complete the prerequisites for nursing school (or obtain an ADN). After completing the prerequisites I plan to transfer to a 4 yr. University as a Sophmore, to finish the last two years and obtain a BSN.

    However, there are a few problems:

    1. I am from Puerto Rico, therefore, I am considered an out-of-state student in all the US states.

    2. Obviously, the high out of state tuiton, both in CC's and 4yr. universities. Plus, the cost of moving to a new state.

    3. I may qualify for student aid. However, that doesn't cover alot of the tuiton and I do not feel confident depending on scholarships (i don't know if i will be able to get a scholarship)

    I want to study nursing in the US mainly because:

    • the colleges and universities are amazing
    • the quality of life is better, plus much better salaries
    • there are many of opportunities
    • it has always been my dream to work and live in Portland,OR or California

    I am very conflicted because I do not know how to approach the cost of tuiton. I checked for out of state tuiton prices in Cali, and Oregon, even some of the cheapest cc's cost from $19,000 to $29,000+. I don't like the idea of off putting college for too long, but it seems that I might need to.

    Should I become a CNA, work for 1 year (or more), become a resident, and then apply to a CC? Or is it better to just attend a 4yr. University as a freshman and pay the out of state tuiton for that? (I say this because I'd rather pay $20k+ a year for a good university education over a community college education, this is not to say that cc can't be good, but I would rather pay that amount of $$ for a university.) Orrrr should I forget the gap year all together and apply to a community college for an ADN, become an RN, work for a few years, and then take an RN to BSN program?

    Please comment your opinions/suggestions. Thanks
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   AmyAnn00
    Hi there!
    I just graduated high school and I'm in my first semester of community college in Arizona. I pay about $4,000 a year and I believe it is not that much more expensive for out of state students in my state so you might want to look into Maricopa Community Colleges. They have a big and respected nursing program and even offer a concurrent enrollment program - you can get your associates and bachelors at the same time. They even have a 100% online school where you could finish your prerequisite classes from Puerto Rico. I'm an immigrant from Ireland but have been living in the States for a long time.
    Also, I recommend 100% heading to community college instead of the university. The scholarships you can get for doing well at community college are insane. You get $1,000 a semester at Arizona State just for joining an honor society at the community college. Based on my GPA I will get an additional $4,000 a semester so I will almost have a full ride.
    Another thing to consider is that a lot of community college programs have a waiting list (even up to 2 years long) - everyone wants to be a nurse these days. However, I think the CNA is a GREAT plan! It is really hard to get a nursing job especially in a hospital or specialty without any experience here. It will improve your resume by a lot. I am just signing up for my own CNA classes tomorrow I don't think a gap year is a good idea - prerequisites can take a year or two and everyone I know who took one ended up unmotivated and never went to school.
    My final advice is to take the semester to do a CNA course and find employment. Most classes are like a month long, so you will have time to get settled before the next semester begins. I think you should work part time and finish your prerequisite classes (especially if you want to do the community college route, some schools have wait lists and some do not) because who wants to sit around for 2 years doing nothing! But trust me, going to community college can save you literally $40,000. Nothing beats that! I had a hard time not going to university because all my friends were having fun at the dorms but I ended up loving my community college (and the price tag).
    Good luck and I hope this helped!
  4. by   nisa.33
    Thank you for replying! $4,000 sounds great, and the concurrent enrollment program does interest me. I never considered Arizona, but I'll certainly look into it. I'm not very interest in online programs- they're just not for me. The waiting lists are definitely something I don't want to endure so I'll try to find cc's without them- thanks for the heads up! I thought about taking a semester or the months before the spring term to take CNA classes, but the tuiton really threw me off. I'll rethink it again. I'm not too sure if I could handle two full years without going to college, the anxiety would eat me up- so thanks for the input. I'm glad you're doing great in your college experience, a full ride scholarship is amazing, and good luck with your CNA classes!
  5. by   AmyAnn00
    Quote from nisa.33
    Thank you for replying! $4,000 sounds great, and the concurrent enrollment program does interest me. I never considered Arizona, but I'll certainly look into it. I'm not very interest in online programs- they're just not for me. The waiting lists are definitely something I don't want to endure so I'll try to find cc's without them- thanks for the heads up! I thought about taking a semester or the months before the spring term to take CNA classes, but the tuiton really threw me off. I'll rethink it again. I'm not too sure if I could handle two full years without going to college, the anxiety would eat me up- so thanks for the input. I'm glad you're doing great in your college experience, a full ride scholarship is amazing, and good luck with your CNA classes!
    Yeah definitely! My school has the regular wait list for an associates degree, and the concurrent program is based on your GPA and entrance exam score so there isn't a wait list for that, and it's the cheapest option for your bachelors. I myself hate online school too but the convenience is great for folks who work, have a family, or live far away. There's also Central Arizona College and a few others who do not have wait lists for the associates, but I think you need to be a CNA first and you have to take a P.E. class which is weird, but hey it's one way to get into nursing school! Waiting lists are a pain in the butt - one year for your prerequisite classes, two years on a waiting list, and then two years of a program just for an associates degree when a lot of hospitals prefer BSN nurses? No thanks!

    Concurrent Enrollment Programs (CEP) | Academic & Student Affairs | Maricopa Community Colleges
    Here's a link for the program if you wanna check it out!
    Thanks and good luck to you too!
  6. by   idkmybffjill
    Ultimately, it depends on what's most important and how much money you have to spare.

    The community college near me has their out of state tuition as four times the in-state cost, so at least $1200 per course without additional fees. If paying that kind of money is feasible for you and you are eager to start college now, then you could always start at a community college and go to a university later.

    However, if you can find a university/community college that will consider you a in-state resident after a year (also look into if they go by where your parents live rather than where you live), I honestly think taking a gap year would be a good option. It would greatly reduce your cost because between tuition, textbooks (especially science textbooks that can be $200+), and the various fees, costs add up and the less loans you have to take out the better you'll be in the long run. You can gain some experience as a CNA and ensure that this is something you want to do. It would also allow you to save up some money to pay for classes. I've seen too many people who had to drop out halfway through because they unfortunately didn't have the money to finish their degree. In the long-term, a year is not long.
  7. by   ThatBigGuy
    Use your gap year to move to and establish residency in a state on the continent. That's going to save you so much money over the course of your education.

    Avoid California if possible. Nursing programs as a rule are incredibly impacted there, and since you're free to move literally anywhere in the continental US, choose a state that gives you a better opportunity to be accepted statistically. It also has a higher cost of living than most other states, which would make it very difficult to live on a CNA hourly rate.

    Look in the Midwest, South, and Southwest parts of the US. Avoid the West Coast and upper east coast. The more dense the overall population, the more applicants you'll be fighting for acceptance into a nursing program.
  8. by   nisa.33
    I agree with you on the waitlists, sometimes its just crazy waiting for so long! Thanks for the info and the link. I'm definitely checking it out

    Thank you!
    Last edit by nisa.33 on Nov 8
  9. by   nisa.33
    Quote from idkmybffjill
    Ultimately, it depends on what's most important and how much money you have to spare.

    The community college near me has their out of state tuition as four times the in-state cost, so at least $1200 per course without additional fees. If paying that kind of money is feasible for you and you are eager to start college now, then you could always start at a community college and go to a university later.

    However, if you can find a university/community college that will consider you a in-state resident after a year (also look into if they go by where your parents live rather than where you live), I honestly think taking a gap year would be a good option. It would greatly reduce your cost because between tuition, textbooks (especially science textbooks that can be $200+), and the various fees, costs add up and the less loans you have to take out the better you'll be in the long run. You can gain some experience as a CNA and ensure that this is something you want to do. It would also allow you to save up some money to pay for classes. I've seen too many people who had to drop out halfway through because they unfortunately didn't have the money to finish their degree. In the long-term, a year is not long.
    Thanks for replying!

    I definitely don't have enough money to pay off out of state tuiton in CC's where it's close to 20k. I'd need all the federal aid, and scholarship money I could get.

    I thought about a gap year would be best if it meant I could get settled in, work, and gain residency. However, I've heard that gaining residency in some states (especially if they think it's for education purposes) is very difficult. This worries me because it might mean that I would have to spend more than a year without going to college to qualify.
    Last edit by nisa.33 on Nov 8
  10. by   nisa.33
    Quote from ThatBigGuy
    Use your gap year to move to and establish residency in a state on the continent. That's going to save you so much money over the course of your education.

    Avoid California if possible. Nursing programs as a rule are incredibly impacted there, and since you're free to move literally anywhere in the continental US, choose a state that gives you a better opportunity to be accepted statistically. It also has a higher cost of living than most other states, which would make it very difficult to live on a CNA hourly rate.

    Look in the Midwest, South, and Southwest parts of the US. Avoid the West Coast and upper east coast. The more dense the overall population, the more applicants you'll be fighting for acceptance into a nursing program.
    Thanks for the advice!

    After posting this, I reconsidered California's cost of living, and the nursing programs in California a little bit more. I decided to remove California from my list of potential states to move to. I just don't think it's worth it to risk paying out of state tuiton plus trying to juggle the cost of living. Especially if there's better and more affordable programs (as well as lower cost of living) somewhere else.

    I've been looking into as many schools as possible all over the US, but mainly Florida and Oregon. Florida simply because I do have family there, and supposedly the University of Florida has a very good nursing program. If not for the fact that I have family there, I probably wouldn't consider moving to Florida. I know Oregon has a high cost of living, but it really is the one state that I would love to live in.

    I am aware that essentially everywhere nursing programs are competitive. I'll definitely take your advice into consideration, some places are insanely competitive (as you mentioned, population density is definitely a big attribution).

    Thanks for the reply, and the advice.
  11. by   quixotic.dy
    I think that if you relocate to the US for a gal year during that time you should be able to get residency in any of the states. Since you are an American citizen this should be fairly easy. Most states just require that you get a drivers license, register to vote, have a permanent address and live there for a year before you are considered a resident. Some states like Nevada are even easier than that if you moved for a job or another qualifying reason. Do your research into different schools and how hard it is to get into them because you might find that it would be easier to go to a private school where in state and out of state tuition doesn't matter.
    Once you start as an out of state student you'll never be able to change unless you change schools so I think if you're already planning on a gap year then that will be a good time to work on becoming a resident of the state you live in. Don't do your gap year in PR.
  12. by   quixotic.dy
    One more thing, look at cost of living versus nursing salary. I live in Nevada and just finished nursing school here. We will probably live here forever because the cost of living combined with nursing Salary makes it the most affordable. Aka I will get the most for every dollar I make.
    Other states that are good for that long term plan is California (but will suck as a student) Washington, Oregon
  13. by   ohna
    Look at the cost of living in all states, and your chance of getting accepted. Good nursing schools usually are judged by their NCLEX results.

    Where I am, the way I spend money, a salary of CNA gives me a very comfortable life and I live in a very good neighborhood. However, I can't extend my money when I want to help or buy a house.I drive a 20 year old car which runs 28miles per gal in the city and 32 miles per gal in the highway, cheap insurance. I know basic skills to maintain or repair my car, so this has been saving me from paying a labor of an auto mechanic.

    Living out of our means is what causing anxieties. Good luck in your journey.
    Last edit by ohna on Nov 11

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