Talk to the financial aid officer in the program you plan to attend. There are many many ways to pay for advanced education for nurses.
Also check out what your employer offers for tuition reimbursement.
Join NASN www.nasn.org
and your state school nurse organization. NASN awards two $1500 scholarships a year and the state association I am in, Illinois Association of School Nurses www.iasn.org
, offers 3 $500 scholarships for certification. The odds are good with both. There are other school health and public organizations in my state that offer similar scholarships also.
I recieved two graduate degrees free by being a paid teaching assistant. I worked 20 hours a week, was paid, and then had tuition free - I also received a federal stipend that varied semester to semester. A lot of the assistantship work - grading, and now assisting with the online classes - can be done at home. The program I teach in now only requires 10 hours a week for free tuition. I also applied for and recieved "awards" for projects I did as a part of my program - they ranged from $300 - 1500 a pop. The nursing college graduate student organization and the university student organization also offered applications for paid expenses to attend conferences - I was able to get both of those while in school.
Check out your undergrad alumni association, local hospital auxillaries and local hospital foundations. Their scholarships are not always for acute nursing.
is a database of nursing scholarships sponsored by J & J. - great resource.
The most important thing I can say about these opportunites is APPLY!!! Often they are not awarded as no one applies. The applications are easy to fill out and once you completed one, make a copy and use the template for the others. Get a trusted mentor or two to read them over and make suggestions.