How to Pay for 2nd Degree?!?!


Hey all:

I'm hoping someone can offer some words of wisdom ... I got great news the other day that I got accepted to my #1 choice for an ABSN program. But ... since it's a private school & I will have to move hundreds of miles away to attend, reality is sinking in on how the heck to pay for this! The tuition for the program is approx $35k, cost of living will be approx $20k (it's in a big metropolitan city) ... I spoke with financial aid, and I understand that as a 2nd degree student I'm only eligible for loans & no other aid.

I'm (crazily!) okay with taking these loans, seeing as how bad I want to pursue my dream, but I'm terrified I won't be able to get them. I know the federal Stafford loans will only scratch the surface on my bills, but I worry that I won't be able to qualify for private loans. I quit my job to attend school full-time to take the pre-req courses I needed, and although I have a decent credit score, due to the awful state of the economy, it won't be enough (I've already been denied by 2 lenders for private loans). I could potentially ask my father, but due to his age & health, he works & earns very little, and am terrified that again, I would be denied even with his good credit score as my co-signer since he has low income.

Is anyone else in a similar situation? I'm so stressed ... before I was so worried about getting into a school, and now I'm scared that I will have to throw this dream away ... Thanks for any help.


1,530 Posts

I am not sure about the BSN level.....but....

You said you are unemployed. Your moniker is "seminole", so I assume you are in FL. You didn't mention the school....

Here is what I (a second degree student) have chosen to do:

1. Get an ASN first. It is far less costly at CCs and you will still be an RN.

2. While laid off, I applied to Worksource (strictly FL) and they are paying all of my tuition, books, uniforms, etc.

3. Check out scholarships. My first term NS, I received a BCBS $1000 scholarship.

4. Use Stafford loans to pay the rest.


5. Apply to and eventually complete a RN->MSN program.

We cannot predict the future, but I am hoping that whatever hospital I work for will pay for the RN-MSN program.

Sometimes we can't have what we "want". It may be that this ABSN program is a luxury that you cannot afford. If the "dream" is to become an RN, you might want to consider other options. Check out Worksource if you are in FL.

Good Luck!

Purple_Scrubs, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 1,978 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

I used private loans for my aBSN. It ended up being over $35,000 in total, but well worth it. It would have cost me more in the long run to do an associate's first when you factor in the waiting list for the ccs near me, as well as the years without the RN income while waiting and while in school. I was done in 15 months and have been able to pay well over the minimum payment on my loan monthly.

With my husband's income, I qualified without a co-signor, but you might consider asking a parent or other family member if they are willing to co-sign for an education loan. That way, you should have no trouble getting qualifying, although you can certainly try to qualify without a co-signor first and see what happens. Good lucK!


32 Posts

I was a second degree nursing student in a BSN. I found it hard to find the money as well.

I noted that someone suggested that you presue a Associate degree in nursing. I wouldn't. If you got into a great 4 year private school, go for it. I must admit that I am biased against associate programs. I started in one figuring that it would cost me less and I could get out into nursing faster. I was wrong. The two year school I went to was not interested in training smart people to be nurses or people who they didn't feel were going to be good nurses. They looked for people who would be "compliant to the standards and norms of the the nursing world" (there quote, not mine). I was not and am not sure what that meant, but a quit the Assocate program. I completed my BSN and am so glad that I went that route. (Sorry about the rant)

As far as money goes, loans, scholarships, and work study are the only thing out there. I found many scholarships that were not through my school. Many companies that are involved in the medical field offer scholarships. I know scholarships take much time, but they are good sources of non repaid money. You may also want to look into some of the hospitals in the area. Some of them will help pay for school in exchange for a future contract with them.

The last thing I can add. Look for a different school that is closer to home, not in a big city. I know that may be deflation of your dream but is the dream nursing or is the dream going to that school.

Good luck. Study hard. I made it as a second degree and so can you.


48 Posts

Thanks to both for the great advice!

FLMomof5- you're guess is right ... I graduated from FSU & am living down in Miami. For me, the time I take to complete the program is the most important. I'm single, no children, and honestly a little sick of Florida, so am free to move anywhere, and want to complete the program as quickly as possible. I've certainly considered the ASN- BSN route, but since I have not family-commitments, I can devote myself 110% to the program (and have INCREDIBLE respect for anybody that can juggle the 2!). I figure it'd cost me more in the long-run (cost of housing, living, random bills, lost income, etc.). I could move back home with the family to attend the local CC to get the AS degree, but they operate on a waitlist, so it would be 2+ years to get in, plus the 2 years to complete it again, just not an option for me to wait around. I've heard about the Workforce Program & will definitely look into it (I've applied to a few CC's in FL just to hedge my bets), but again, once all the costs are considered, I wonder, at least in my case, if I'd really "save"? I also fear that if I did go this route, what if (due to hospitals tightening their purse-strings due to the economy) they couldn't pay for my RN-MSN degree (I have the same goal as you!) You're right ... there are so many variables about the future ... I'm just so eager to get started!!! And congrats on pursuing your dream, it sounds like you've got a solid plan in place :)

Purple_Scrubs: Thanks for the advice! For me, the CC route is a similar situation, and it'd be a lot more costly to have to wait around to start school & take that income loss, while also racking up the cost-of-living expenses (i.e. health insurance, car, phone ...). I'm not sure when you applied for your private loans, but did you take out several smaller ones? Or apply for a large lump sum loan? I hate having to put my dad in this situation of "signing his life" away, lol, I wish it were easier to get federal loans & the more favorable options they have!


48 Posts

Sorry I wrote a few typos above, was in a bit of a hurry! Spelling errors drive me nuts! :)

whitedoginwi- Thanks for the advice. While I can vouch for the CC's in my area as having quality programs (I have a few friends that are grads & had great experiences in the programs & are readily hired by local hospitals), I'm sure that varies by region. Then again, there were a few that had classmates in the program that didn't take it seriously ... they figured, "Nursing? why not?" and lacked a solid work ethic. One of the CC's here in South Fla definitely has a reputation as, umm... "tough love?" (euphemism) ,but is highly regarded. The ABSN program I got accepted into, although grueling, has a great reputation among hospitals & VERY high NCLEX pass rate ~almost 100%. That's one of my main draws to an aBSN program - highly motivated & serious students. I've applied/ looked into other schools, but have already been told straight up by my in-state schools that I won't be accepted into an aBSN, or even likely a traditional BSN program since the competition is fierce down here (due to huge # of applicants, bad economy/people changing careers, & inexpensive cost). I didn't have the best of GPA's in undergrad (around 3.1-3.2), although I'm slowly redeeming myself with a 4.0 in pre-reqs! So that only leaves me with the private school or out-of-state school option ... kind of between a rock & a hard place! I appreciate your advice, and will definitely spend a few solid days researching scholarships/ grants that may be available. Thanks!


1,530 Posts

One other possible suggestion...... not sure how you feel about the military, but....

The National Guard has a college first program. You enlist in the Guard and you cannot be deployed for the first 2 years. Most of your college costs will be covered.

You might just want to call 1800-go-guard and talk to a recruiter.

Specializes in Float Pool, acute care, management/leadership. Has 11 years experience.

I am in the same predicament as well. There's three programs that I plan to apply is a well-respected ADN program that is super cost-efficient, but I really want a BSN. The other program I want to apply to is a private school that has a great reputation as well, but is terribly expensive at $29,000 annually. However, I think I would enjoy this school the most because of the social justice and community emphasis in their curriculum and because the school is right in the heart of the city where I've always wanted to live. Lastly, the third program is a BSN program that is public, but it is pretty much the "Harvard" of nursing programs. It's not too expensive and it is one of the top programs in the country, but I hear that so much of the curriculum is research focused...which I feel like I may not enjoy.

At any rate, beggars can't be choosers...I just hope to get in anywhere. School is the best investment that you can make...but I don't want to be 50 grand in debt after nursing school either.

O the woe...

Specializes in Urgent Care NP, Emergency Nursing, Camp Nursing. Has 12 years experience.

Apply to a master's-entry program. You'll be elligible for Federal GradPLUS loans as a graduate student that you don't qualify for going for a second bachelor's.


2 Posts

i am in the same situation. i have heard that the only way to fund my bsn or direct-entry program is going to be through private loans. i have been told by several nps and advisors that if you already have a bs that an associates degree is a waste. plus many hospitals are turning away rns over nurses with bsns. let me know if you find any federal aid.


42 Posts

Have you looked into entry-level Masters at a public college? Here in California, the tuition for a masters at Cal State is reasonable, although very competitive for that exact reason. If the ABSN program is the only school your confident of getting in to, then contact the military as the previous post mentioned, and sign up for the service repayment plan. I wish I could do so, but I have a family and military nurse is not an option.

Good luck!

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