First of all, figure out what all the programs are in your area. Know that with a previous bachelor's, you can apply to an accelerated 2nd degree BSN program if there are any around you. Where I am, prereqs are fairly easy to fit into your schedule - you can take almost all of them online, and even if you had to change jobs you could probably work full time while taking them. Now, micro and A&P are very demanding time-wise, so if you need to work full time for a while longer to save some money you might want to spread your prereqs out over a few semesters since grades tend to be VERY important in getting into any nursing program. Start cutting costs, eliminating debt, etc. while you're getting your prereqs done. Try to put away a certain % of your paycheck each month, as much as you can afford, so you'll have something for emergencies.
Next, look into paying for school itself. With a previous bachelors, you are completely ineligible for any type of government grants. You can apply for private scholarships
, but many want you to already be a nursing student. I'm paying for my ABSN program with all loans, although I paid cash for all my prereqs since I went part time and worked full time. I am married, which even limited the amount of loans we could get - you won't have that problem - but I do have more money coming in from his FT job.
Something you really ought to look into is whether any of the hospitals in your area offer tuition reimbursement to employees. Many here will pay your entire tuition (CC or public school), plus a small amount towards books, in return for a 16 hr/week commitment in any capacity at the hospital (aide, janitorial, unit clerk, whatever). I believe you have to agree to work for them after you graduate though as well, so you'd want to get that aide job and try it out for a while before you accept any money from them. One hospital by me offers a great scholarship
program - it's competitive, but they give it to 2 employees (6 mo. minimum) each year: they pay 100% tuition, 100% books, and PAY YOU for a 40-hour work week, plus full benefits. You work 16 hours/week for the hospital, and agree to work for them for one year for each year you accepted the scholarship. I didn't know about it until our orientation, and you had to already be an employee to apply.
There are tons of options out there to finance school. If you need to take out loans, take out loans. Many hospitals will also offer to repay some/all for you, again for signing a contract to work there for a certain amount of time. What program you choose makes a difference too. CCs tend to be more willing to work with adults who have jobs, and ABSN programs are the hardest to work at all in. However, with an ABSN, you may be finished in as little as a year. Despite what they tell you, a lot of my classmates work part time and a few work full. I just gave notice at my job, but I worked all through first semester. My husband is making more money now so I could afford to quit, but if I needed my job to make rent I'd still be doing fine. I'm quitting so I can get more sleep and save my sanity, but you can always worry about those when you graduate. Start looking into all options now, and you'll be able to figure something out. Keep us posted!