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BSN: 55K for 1 year vs. 4K for 2 years

guest_57352 guest_57352 (Member)

Hey everyone,

As in my title, I'm in a predicament. I've had my heart set on an accelerated BSN program (a specific one) but only recently realized that I couldn't get financial aid for my SECOND bachelor's - only loans. The cost is around 55K for TUITION ALONE. It's a very reputable school, but the cost is just so high.

On the flipside, I called some traditional BSN programs in the area. With my previous BS, I can finish the BSN in only 2 years. I can only meet the deadline for ONE, and the cost is very cheap - around 2K a year for in-state residents after aid. So a total of 4K, but it will take two years.

So my dilemma: I spend only 1 year, but end up with 55K in loans. On the plus side, I would be working sooner and could pay the loans off sooner (perhaps). Plus I'm sick of school at this point. Or I could just do a traditional BSN in 2 years, but it will only cost around 4K total. Also the school isn't as highly regarded, though still good.

I just hate the fact that I will be in school 6 years for a BSN. It's kind of depressing. Advice?

Also: I already have around 18K in loans from my first BS. So the end result would be 22K to payback vs 73K. :confused:

You even have to ask????? $55k vs $4k??? Trust me, you ain't going to earn enough in your first year of working as an RN to rationalize that difference. Plus, new grads are having lots of difficulty even finding jobs these days -- not only would you not have big loan payments to worry about with the less expensive program, but spending an extra year in school might be a benefit by itself -- you might be entering a more receptive job market by that time.

And you won't be "in school for 6 years for a BSN." You'll be in school six years for whatever baccalaureate degree you're already getting plus a BSN. Two degrees. Not at all unreasonable. Shoot, plenty of people nowadays spend six years or more in college just getting one degree. :) (Many years ago, my sister spent six years going full-time to a state university and still hadn't graduated (entirely her own fault, I assure you) -- she finally just gave up and dropped out. Six years and nothing to show for it ...)

chicagoing, ADN, RN

Has 7 years experience.

I just wanted to add that if in your shoes, I would NOT take out 55K+ in loans if I still had 18K in loans from the first degree.

What type of aid were you looking for? I thought loans fell under the category of financial aid.

You are going to have a hard time getting a loan that large anyways, and do you really want to jam 2 years of school + clinicals into one...

Take it easy, both on your pocket book and sanity.

Go for the $4K program. Nursing programs are pretty standardized, there is no way that the $55K program is significantly different or better than the $4K program. Besides, if you already have $18K in debt why on earth would you want to take on another $55K debt?? (unless you're an EU country, you won't get bailed out) Student loans are the WORST kind of debt, you can't discharge it in bankruptcy and they will garnish your wages, take your tax refunds, and even garnish your social security decades on if you can't pay them.

Another benefit of a 2yr program is there is more opportunity to take advantage of student nurse opportunities: working part-time as an aide, participating in a student internship program, involvement with your local student nursing organization, etc. Such experiences increase both your own exposure and confidence as well as increasing your odds at landing employment upon graduation through 'a foot in the door' and/or networking.

Strictly financially, a 2 yr program might allow more availability for part-time work as a student plus all of summer break and often is less than a full two years - usually somewhere between 20-22 months from start to finish with summer break falling in there. A one-year accelerated program is usually somewhere between 12-16 months with no summer break.

i’ll play devil’s advocate because i think the answer might not be as clear cut as it seems.

the question is: can you work while you're doing the two year program? if not, is someone supporting you financially while you go back to school?

if the answer to both is no, the absn is probably the better option. if you can’t work during the 2 year option the absn isn’t as expensive as it looks, since you’d be looking 2 years worth of personal debt of some sort while you finish the two year program.

one big reason absn programs are so popular even though most are pretty pricey is because time is a major concern for some people. and as crazy as it might sound, hundreds of students in absn and direct entry programs secure loans of 55k and up each year, mostly from private lenders such as discover or sallie mae.

also, i wouldn’t consider student loans the worst kind of debt. in fact, my finance-savvy friends claim paying off a credit card debt would improve your credit score more than paying off a student load of the same amount. and loan interest is tax deductible. also, your previous loan payment can be deferred while you go back to school. like any debt, you only run into problems if you default.

either way it’s a really big decision and i wish you luck!

Yeah, exactly - it's not that clear cut.

I couldn't work during the two year program (most likely - I'm not sure what kind of job I could get with a BS in Biology). I won't have any expenses outside of tuition though - I am living at home and have a car (paid for).

with that i would say you could go either way. the way i look at it, the absn program is 55k of debt, and 1 year of lost wages. the 2 year program is 4k of debt but 2 years of lost wages. if you expect to make, say, 50k per year when you graduate, the second year of the 2 year program is like losing 50k, which makes it almost the same price as the absn.

i'm oversimplifying here, but it's something to think about.

with that i would say you could go either way. the way i look at it, the absn program is 55k of debt, and 1 year of lost wages. the 2 year program is 4k of debt but 2 years of lost wages. if you expect to make, say, 50k per year when you graduate, the second year of the 2 year program is like losing 50k, which makes it almost the same price as the absn.

i'm oversimplifying here, but it's something to think about.

again -- you're talking like it's a given that a new grad is going to immediately walk into a high-paying rn position upon graduation. look around this site -- the '09 nursing grads who haven't found nursing jobs yet are now terrified that they're getting "passed over" in favor of the "fresher" '10 nursing grads. lots of nursing grads aren't finding nursing jobs, despite looking hard for a long time. how does your math work out if op's income for that first year out of school is $0?? what happens when it's time to start making the payments on that total $73k student debt? lots of people who were "expecting" to make "say, 50k per year when you graduate" have been bitterly disappointed and are now in serious financial difficulties.

op, many nursing students work part- or even full-time while in traditional nursing programs (not so much with the accelerated bsn programs, which are much more demanding and time-intensive). it is quick and cheap to get cna training and certification (many nursing schools require this anyway) and hospitals frequently hire nursing students to work as cnas. many of the cnas i work with are currently nursing students. i have taught in adn and bsn programs in which many, if not most, of the students were working, doing all kinds of jobs -- cna in a healthcare setting, waiting tables, retail, etc. the same kinds of jobs college students have always held. most colleges/unis have offices that help students find jobs -- have you talked to the office at your school about what possibilities they may know of?

i still think, completely apart from the financial considerations, that there is a real incentive and value in taking an additional year in school and postponing the initial rn job hunt -- giving the economy and employment situation that much longer to recover ... to me, this is a no-brainer. esp. with no significant living expenses, in the current economic climate.

like i said, i was oversimplifying. but if the op goes to a 2 year program and will not work as stated s/he is guaranteed to not be making a decent salary that second year. yes the job market is very tough, but if they do the one year accelerated they at least have the potential to begin to make a decent wage in year 2.

also, i’m not suggesting the op or anyone take 55k in debt lightly, but equally you cannot disregard the financial impact of not working or only working part time for 2 years vs. 1 year. many people do work while in school, some do not. it comes down to choice, abilities, etc.

my goal was to point out this wasn't just a black and white 55k vs 4k of debt question. everyone else was pushing the op in one direction, i simply wanted to point out the alternative viewpoints.

best wishes to all.

One additional benefit of the 'slower' two year program is that you could likely get a position as a Patient Care Aide/Technician after you have completed the first semester of nursing school. This can be a part-time position that pays better than being a barista. Plus, you will gain valuable nursing clinical experience (and be paid for it at the same time).

When hitting the job market, students who have been PCAs/PCTs/CNAs often will get interviewed ahead of those without such experience.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

1 year of lost wages is a very different thing that acquiring 55k in debt.

Have you even figured out what your interest payments on that debt would be? For a nursing degree? Totally nuts.

You will regret it for the rest of your life once you are in the real world. Just saying.....:smokin:

I am in the same predicament. I just graduated last year from college with a BS and now I want to go back to school for my BSN. It would only take me two years as well. I already paid WAY too much for my first degree, but what's done is done and I can't do it over again, so I'm trying to make the best out of what I CAN do. After my first undergrad, I already have $20,000 in debt. Federal aid is almost out of the question for a second bachelors degree. I have applied to 2 traditional BSN programs...both state schools, and both significantly cheaper than doing an ASBN. My thinking is that if I did an accelerated program, I would get it done sooner, BUT I would have about $40,000 more in debt. Who knows if I would even be able to find a job after I graduated! I figure if I do a traditional program, I can work part time as an aide or something and do a preceptor ship through my school. By the time I graduate, maybe the economy will have picked up by then.

Whichever path you chose, just be aware of the debt that you will be taking on, and the interest that comes along with it. How long will it take you to pay off $80,000? And you really don't know how long it could take you to find a job after graduation. The end result will be the same for whichever path you chose, you will get a BSN either way. It's just a matter of how you want to do it financially.

I couldn't work during the two year program (most likely - I'm not sure what kind of job I could get with a BS in Biology). I won't have any expenses outside of tuition though - I am living at home and have a car (paid for).

I take it, then, that you didn't work part-time when getting your bio degree? It's wonderful if you can put all your time into studying, but for most it's *VERY* doable to work part-time while in a traditional (non-accelerated) nursing program.

Not having to worry about living expenses really gives you a lot of options. Even if you didn't work, taking a little bit longer (less than a full year!) doesn't have much in the way of a downside. You wouldn't be taking on any extra debt by taking a bit longer versus taking on *a lot* of extra debt for saving some time. AND most accelerated programs go by too fast to allow for getting experience as a part-time CNA or to take advantage of student internship opportunities, either of which can add to experience and employability.

I know a year can feel like forever especially if you feel like you're already behind the ball (eg friends have all graduated already or are in grad school and here you are 'still' an undergrad) but it's really not a problem.

It sounds like your heart is pretty well set on the accelerated program, though. So instead of focusing on the money question, maybe find out more about the two programs? Don't assume that the accelerated program *must* be better than than the two year program just because perhaps it's a bigger name school or the entry requirements are more strict. Can you find graduates to talk to? Do you know what reputation each program has in the local nursing community?

Do you have any idea what area of nursing you'll be interested in? Which school might better address that? If you're not sure what area of nursing, again, the longer route might allow for you gain a bit more direction while still a student.

Best wishes!!!!

After thinking over everything and reading everyone's replies, I'm going to apply to both programs. I did some research, and now I'm a lot more interested in the 2 year program, but feel like I have a lower chance of being accepted into it (it seems more competitive). When I think of the interest on 75K in loans I feel I'd be paying it off for 10+ years.

Here are some factors that I found helpful when I was struggling with the same type of dilemma:

NCLEX pass and attrition rates - I think it is crucial to consider both of these stats. You want a school that is going to prepare you to become a practicing, licensed nurse. And if the school has a great NCLEX pass rate, but only half of the starting class graduates, then there may be a problem in how they are preparing students that is being obscured by them weeding out those that the HESI indicates probably won't pass the NCLEX. At the second-degree level, a good school accepts qualified applicants, has a reasonable attrition rate, and a NCLEX rate that is at least near the state average.

Reputation in the market that you plan on practicing in - as many applicants pointed out, many new nurses are not finding jobs right now. So, going to a school that has great connections and/or reputation in the location that you plan on working in is very important. An important aspect of this is where your clinicals will be at.

Opportunites - I hesitated to attend a program that was so condensed that it would leave absolutely no time to work in a clinical setting, participate in student organizations, or take advantage of other networking opportunities. As many previous posters have voiced, right now there are far more applicants than there are new grad positions. A summer externship, part-time PCT/CNA position, and participation in organizations or activities that allow you to make connections with local hospitals drastically increases your chances of landing that crucial first job.

Liklihood of acceptance - this one is my least favorite. Like in most things, the laws of supply and demand apply to education. The more a school costs, the less people will be willing or able to pay for it. All other things being equal, the cheaper option is better. But this is exactly why many low-cost state universities have a 100+ applicants for each slot. So, holding out for the cheaper two-year program may end up taking several years.

Funding - this one is complicated. First, many private universities will include some grant money in the financial aid package. Secondly, unless you have saved a significant amount, you will have to take out a private loan to fund that much in one year. This is important because private loans are not subject to reimbursement or discharge in return for employment, work in an underserved area, or work for a non-profit. Thus, you absolutely will have to repay every cent (plus interest). And of course, there is lost earning potential - especially if it also takes several years to get into the cheaper school.

I found that the first three variables were the most important to me personally. After that, I decided what financial line I was unwilling to cross (for me it was taking on any private loans). After that, I cast a somewhat wide net with applications. That way I knew I was likely to get in somewhere that I felt good about and, if it was the cheap one, all the better! Paying $40-80 per application was painful, but really it is nothing compared to the prospective cost of tuition, years of school, and impact on your career.

I hope some of this helped. I was in your position a year and half ago and vividly remember the constant dwelling! Good luck to you!


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