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Justifying the cost of an Ivy League Nursing Education

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How do you guys justify the cost for a program like Yale, Penn or Columbia? Like why would you pick one of those over a smaller, wayyyy cheaper school? Just wondering your thoughts!

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

I wouldn't. An Ivy League degree doesn't mean in nursing what it would in, say, law. Why take on the cost? Ideally, student loans wouldn't exceed what you could reasonably earn in your first year of nursing (less would be much better), and although I haven't looked into the tuition of an Ivy League school, I'm sure it's pretty darn high.

I wouldn’t. I spent less than $10k on my ADN and BSN combined. I have coworkers with “brand name” degrees and “pay to play” degrees. Neither makes or breaks the nurse. I suppose it might be worth it depending, possibly, on your career goals (as in want to teach nursing at an Ivy League school).

What many Ivy League schools CAN offer is incredibly generous financial aid. Some of them are way better than most other schools if you can show financial need. The hardest part is getting accepted.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I wouldn't recommend a super-expensive school (Ivy League or elsewhere) for the average student. However, I can imagine some special circumstances in which I would consider it. For example: if that particular school offered a unique concentration or specialty focus that was not available elsewhere and I really wanted that focus ... or to work with a particular researcher/professor, then I might do it.

Also, what type/level of education are we talking about. Entry-level BSN? If that's the case, then the particular school does not matter as much as it does for graduate school. At that level, the education is pretty generic and a good, solid, cheaper school is sufficient for most purposes.

But will that prestigious school give you more/better opportunities for jobs after graduation? Sometimes, that is the case. Some of those fancier, more expensive schools set their students up in the highest quality clinical practicums, internships, research assistant positions, etc. that help those students get a "leg up" on the best jobs after graduation.

You also have to consider the available funding. Sometimes, those prestigious schools have more financial aid to offer. If you get good funding, the "more expensive" school can actually be cheaper -- or -- if not cheaper -- then "better value for the money" as you might get a better education for only a slightly higher price. That makes them worth considering, but not the best choice for everyone.

You also need to consider the social climate. If you are looking to find a spouse, you might find one with better career prospects and/or "old family money" at an Ivy League school. But there is no guarantee of that. The social scene is worth thinking about though as who you hang out with as a young person can influence the decisions you make about your life in general.

How much debt will you have when you graduate. Will you be able to pay that back with relative ease? Or will it cripple you financially for years?

Finally, what are the other options? Are there other reasonable good options that are more practical for you? If you are a good enough student to get admitted to an Ivy League school, I am guessing you have other options. How much difference is there between the Ivy League school you are considering and the other options?

murseman24, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in anesthesiology.

Not worth it for basic nursing education

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

One of my clinical instructors lived and breathed Yale. Yale is an amazing school with an amazing hospital associated with it, and my instructor (at a different school) graduated from there and adored it. However, when I mentioned that someday I might want to go for a DNP, and I floated Yale, she said “Yale School of Nursing is an incredible institution, but there are better ways to spend $80,000!” I loved her honesty because I know how much she loved that school. As someone else said, nursing isn’t the same as getting an MBA— your choice of school won’t actually impact your career. I’m sure there are some great reasons to choose an Ivy school but definitely not if you have to borrow to do it.

On 10/14/2019 at 9:27 PM, Barbiegirl1229 said:

how do you guys justify the cost for a program like Yale, Penn or Columbia? Like why would you pick one of those over a smaller, wayyyy cheaper school? Just wondering your thoughts!

There's a lot to be said for not picking something only because of perceived superiority. It is true that many non-Ivy places can and do provide a very solid nursing education. One related issue, though, is people's capacity to then justify nearly anything based on the fact that you don't need an Ivy league education. That is to say: True, you don't need an Ivy league education, but there is a lot of non-Ivy stuff you don't need, either--such as very poor quality programs that people seek out because they are fast and cheap and then defend on the basis that "prestige doesn't matter."

All of this goes hand-in-hand with the disregard, disdain, and low esteem in which many employers hold nurses--both facilitating it and justifying it. [Note that I am not defining quality as strictly being Ivy or other well-respected U.]

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

Why do people need to justify their choice of educational institution? It is THEIR decision and they are the ones will pay for tuition and any loans. Some of them may also come from wealthy families, so they have plenty of money.

My initial (non-nursing) undergrad education was Yale. In mid-life, I changed careers to nursing and completed an ABSN and then the MSN NP program at Johns Hopkins.

Ivy League colleges offer excellent educations and the chance to make contacts and build a network that can help one's career. The people who go to those schools are the people who end up running this country - look at Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Supreme Court Justices, CEOs - and how many of them have Ivy League educations - a lot.

I'm a California resident and was also accepted by UCLA for nursing, which means I got the lower resident tuition rate. UCLA did not offer very good financial aid. LA is also a very expensive place to live. Hopkins gave me a really good financial aid package and one can live cheaply in Baltimore, so Hopkins was actually cheaper for me than UCLA. About 1/2 of our class was from California, for the same reasons. I knew several ABSN students that had full-ride scholarships. Should they have turned down the chance to go to Hopkins for free?

For the MSN NP, I won a competitive Nurse Corps Scholarship - full ride, plus a living stipend. Students from schools like Hopkins are in a better position to win competitive scholarships like that.

Furthermore, schools like Yale and Hopkins are very committed to having their students actually graduate. If a student is struggling, they bend over backwards to help them. If a student flunks a class, they aren't kicked out of school, but given a way to continue their studies and graduate.

Quality of education - personally I think community college ADN programs do a fine job with their RN programs. Top-ranked schools like Yale and Hopkins also offer an excellent and rigorous education, along with the chance to do clinicals in some of the best hospitals in the world.

As a new grad RN or NP, a big name school can put a job applicant in a better position to get an interview. That is especially true for an NP, as it is MDs who generally hire NPs and they are very aware of the "best" schools. Most of the MDs who interviewed me were up front and said they wanted to meet me because I went to Hopkins.

At least in California, RNs can make great money. We've had discussions here about Kaiser RNs making $200K a year. A friend just sent me RN job listings from Santa Clara County paying $150K to $190K per year - dozens of them. "In California, registered nurses (RNs) earn more than in any other state at $102,700, and they enjoy an above-average job outlook thanks to greater availability of medical coverage and advances in medicine. It is expected that some 20,637 new RN positions will become available in CA in 2019 . . . "

https://www.nursingprocess.org/rn-salary/california/

That type of pay is adequate to financially justify the cost of an Ivy League or equivalent school.

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

Why do people need to justify their choice of educational institution? It is THEIR decision and they are the ones who will pay for tuition and any loans. Some of them may also come from wealthy families, so they have plenty of money. People have a right to spend their own money as they see fit.

Do you expect people to justify why they bought a Mercedes instead of a Chevy?

My initial (non-nursing) undergrad education was Yale. In mid-life, I changed careers to nursing and completed an ABSN and then the MSN NP program at Johns Hopkins.

Ivy League colleges offer excellent educations and the chance to make contacts and build a network that can help one's career. The people who go to those schools are the people who end up running this country - look at Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Supreme Court Justices, CEOs - and how many of them have Ivy League educations - a lot.

The same is true of nursing. The top schools are not focused on turning out RNs who are going to floor nurses for the next 30 years. They are clear that their goal is to train the next generation of nursing leaders and educators. RNs can and do become senior managers and executives, even CEOs of hospitals. There are also RNs that become senior government officials helping to craft healthcare policy. A nurse, who was also a Rear Admiral, was appointed Surgeon General of the United States. RNs also earn PhDs and teach nursing, even becoming Deans of nursing schools. (Note: I am not putting down floor nurses - lord knows I couldn't do that job, but if my goal was to be a floor nurse, then no, I wouldn't pay for an expensive education)

I'm a California resident and was also accepted by UCLA for nursing, which means I got the lower resident tuition rate. UCLA did not offer very good financial aid. LA is also a very expensive place to live. Hopkins gave me a really good financial aid package and one can live cheaply in Baltimore, so Hopkins was actually cheaper for me than UCLA. About 1/2 of our class was from California, for the same reasons. I knew several ABSN students that had full-ride scholarships. Should they have turned down the chance to go to Hopkins for free?

For the MSN NP, I won a competitive Nurse Corps Scholarship - full ride, plus a living stipend. Students from schools like Hopkins are in a better position to win competitive scholarships like that.

Furthermore, schools like Yale and Hopkins are very committed to having their students actually graduate. If a student is struggling, they bend over backwards to help them. If a student flunks a class, they aren't kicked out of school, but given a way to continue their studies and graduate.

Quality of education - personally I think community college ADN programs do a fine job with their RN programs. Top-ranked schools like Yale and Hopkins also offer an excellent and rigorous education, along with the chance to do clinicals in some of the best hospitals in the world.

As a new grad RN or NP, a big name school can put a job applicant in a better position to get an interview. That is especially true for an NP, as it is MDs who generally hire NPs and they are very aware of the "best" schools. Most of the MDs who interviewed me were up front and said they wanted to meet me because I went to Hopkins.

At least in California, RNs can make great money. We've had discussions here about Kaiser RNs making $200K a year. A friend just sent me RN job listings from Santa Clara County paying $150K to $190K per year - dozens of them. "In California, registered nurses (RNs) earn more than in any other state at $102,700, and they enjoy an above-average job outlook thanks to greater availability of medical coverage and advances in medicine. It is expected that some 20,637 new RN positions will become available in CA in 2019 . . . "

https://www.nursingprocess.org/rn-salary/california/

That type of pay is adequate to financially justify the cost of an Ivy League or equivalent school.

Sassy-RN

Has 13 years experience.

Everyone takes the same boards!!

Edited by Sassy-RN

Rionoir, ADN, RN

Specializes in Neuro ICU.

You’re going to make the same money as everyone else. You might be able to pay off your loans if you get a good job, but you’re still spending WAY more money than necessary and it isn’t going to get you a better salary. The only justification for that kind of money is if you are a person who needs to tell people you went to Yale.

19 hours ago, FullGlass said:

Why do people need to justify their choice of educational institution? It is THEIR decision and they are the ones who will pay for tuition and any loans. Some of them may also come from wealthy families, so they have plenty of money. People have a right to spend their own money as they see fit.

Do you expect people to justify why they bought a Mercedes instead of a Chevy?

My initial (non-nursing) undergrad education was Yale. In mid-life, I changed careers to nursing and completed an ABSN and then the MSN NP program at Johns Hopkins.

Ivy League colleges offer excellent educations and the chance to make contacts and build a network that can help one's career. The people who go to those schools are the people who end up running this country - look at Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors, Supreme Court Justices, CEOs - and how many of them have Ivy League educations - a lot.

The same is true of nursing. The top schools are not focused on turning out RNs who are going to floor nurses for the next 30 years. They are clear that their goal is to train the next generation of nursing leaders and educators. RNs can and do become senior managers and executives, even CEOs of hospitals. There are also RNs that become senior government officials helping to craft healthcare policy. A nurse, who was also a Rear Admiral, was appointed Surgeon General of the United States. RNs also earn PhDs and teach nursing, even becoming Deans of nursing schools. (Note: I am not putting down floor nurses - lord knows I couldn't do that job, but if my goal was to be a floor nurse, then no, I wouldn't pay for an expensive education)

I'm a California resident and was also accepted by UCLA for nursing, which means I got the lower resident tuition rate. UCLA did not offer very good financial aid. LA is also a very expensive place to live. Hopkins gave me a really good financial aid package and one can live cheaply in Baltimore, so Hopkins was actually cheaper for me than UCLA. About 1/2 of our class was from California, for the same reasons. I knew several ABSN students that had full-ride scholarships. Should they have turned down the chance to go to Hopkins for free?

For the MSN NP, I won a competitive Nurse Corps Scholarship - full ride, plus a living stipend. Students from schools like Hopkins are in a better position to win competitive scholarships like that.

Furthermore, schools like Yale and Hopkins are very committed to having their students actually graduate. If a student is struggling, they bend over backwards to help them. If a student flunks a class, they aren't kicked out of school, but given a way to continue their studies and graduate.

Quality of education - personally I think community college ADN programs do a fine job with their RN programs. Top-ranked schools like Yale and Hopkins also offer an excellent and rigorous education, along with the chance to do clinicals in some of the best hospitals in the world.

As a new grad RN or NP, a big name school can put a job applicant in a better position to get an interview. That is especially true for an NP, as it is MDs who generally hire NPs and they are very aware of the "best" schools. Most of the MDs who interviewed me were up front and said they wanted to meet me because I went to Hopkins.

At least in California, RNs can make great money. We've had discussions here about Kaiser RNs making $200K a year. A friend just sent me RN job listings from Santa Clara County paying $150K to $190K per year - dozens of them. "In California, registered nurses (RNs) earn more than in any other state at $102,700, and they enjoy an above-average job outlook thanks to greater availability of medical coverage and advances in medicine. It is expected that some 20,637 new RN positions will become available in CA in 2019 . . . "

https://www.nursingprocess.org/rn-salary/california/

That type of pay is adequate to financially justify the cost of an Ivy League or equivalent school.

Hello,

Thanks for your post it was very informative. I am actually looking to get my nursing degree in NYC and then moving to California. Do you know what exam you need to take in order to be able to work in California. A lot of people say its best to just move to California and start school there to be certified but I feel like schools in NYC are better. I have lived here my whole life and looking to move later to be with my partner but I want to figure everything out before hand. Thank you

NICU Guy, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

19 hours ago, FullGlass said:

It is THEIR decision and they are the ones will pay for tuition and any loans. Some of them may also come from wealthy families, so they have plenty of money.

If you can afford the tuition and cost of living, then go ahead and go to the Ivy league school. But, in most of the country the school you graduated from doesn't matter to the hospitals and is not worth the expense.

19 hours ago, FullGlass said:

Furthermore, schools like Yale and Hopkins are very committed to having their students actually graduate. If a student is struggling, they bend over backwards to help them. If a student flunks a class, they aren't kicked out of school, but given a way to continue their studies and graduate.

So does practically every community college and state university. They want their students to succeed which helps the school's reputation.

19 hours ago, FullGlass said:

At least in California, RNs can make great money. We've had discussions here about Kaiser RNs making $200K a year. A friend just sent me RN job listings from Santa Clara County paying $150K to $190K per year - dozens of them. "In California, registered nurses (RNs) earn more than in any other state at $102,700, and they enjoy an above-average job outlook thanks to greater availability of medical coverage and advances in medicine.

and you can get the same job with the same pay by graduating from a state university. They are not paying more for an Ivy League education. They may pay the highest salary for nurses in the country, but also have the highest cost of living. That is why employees of Google making $150k/yr are living in their parking lot because there is no way they can save enough money for a down payment to buy a house by renting in Silicon Valley. My $200k house in Indiana would cost $2 million in certain parts of California.

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

2 hours ago, FutureRNnyc said:

Hello,

Thanks for your post it was very informative. I am actually looking to get my nursing degree in NYC and then moving to California. Do you know what exam you need to take in order to be able to work in California. A lot of people say its best to just move to California and start school there to be certified but I feel like schools in NYC are better. I have lived here my whole life and looking to move later to be with my partner but I want to figure everything out before hand. Thank you

There is no special test to work in California as an RN - it's the NCLEX like everywhere else. California takes forever to process the license application, you might be better off working in NY for a year or two then move to California. Good luck.

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

2 hours ago, NICU Guy said:

If you can afford the tuition and cost of living, then go ahead and go to the Ivy league school. But, in most of the country the school you graduated from doesn't matter to the hospitals and is not worth the expense.

So does practically every community college and state university. They want their students to succeed which helps the school's reputation.

and you can get the same job with the same pay by graduating from a state university. They are not paying more for an Ivy League education. They may pay the highest salary for nurses in the country, but also have the highest cost of living. That is why employees of Google making $150k/yr are living in their parking lot because there is no way they can save enough money for a down payment to buy a house by renting in Silicon Valley. My $200k house in Indiana would cost $2 million in certain parts of California.

The point is that this is a personal decision. How a person chooses to spend their money is their business and no one else's.

That is why some people buy a Mercedes and others buy a Chevy, why some people shop at Nordstroms and others at WalMart. Who are you to demand justification for people's choices?

Hopkins is very clear that they are not just training nurses, they are training nurse leaders. In other words, their goal is to train the nurses that are going to be CNO, CEOs, public policy leaders, legislators, researchers, and professors, and so forth.

As far as income, my point is that a good income makes an expensive education cost-effective. If you think you can achieve that with a less expensive school, more power to you. But you don't have a right to make that choice for someone else.

As I explained in painstaking detail, most of these expensive schools offer great financial aid and the likelihood of winning competitive scholarships. Notice you didn't touch that argument. So if someone could go to Hopkins on a full ride scholarship, do they need to justify that?

You obviously don't know California. Most of California is very affordable. The Bay Area is ridiculously expensive, and so are parts of LA. The rest of the state has many very affordable cities. California RNs and NPs make more than in any other state, even when considering the cost of living. There are also a lot of jobs available. And as I said, California RNs have a union and safe staffing laws. As I said, there are RNs in Sacramento making $200K a year and Sacramento is quite affordable.

I'm so tired of this type of attitude among some nurses. Do you ever hear MDs ask about the cheapest, easiest schools? Do you ever hear MDs ask if an Ivy League medical school is worth it? If nurses want to be respected professionals, then they should value their education and demand the best. Would any loving parent just want their kids to go to the cheapest school? All the parents I know move to the best neighborhood they can so their kids are in the best school district possible. And they make a lot of sacrifices so their kids can go to the best college possible. Do these parents need to justify themselves to you?

There is an elite in this country, people. The elites go to a certain set of schools. And in any profession, there is the top 10% in that profession. Some of us want to be in that top 10%. What's great about the US is that we all have the opportunity to do so if we decide to go for it.

Given that the top nursing schools have more applicants than spaces, I'd say there are plenty of other people who feel the same way. And selectivity is also a measure of a school's quality.

Rionoir, ADN, RN

Specializes in Neuro ICU.

No one knows where you went to nursing school, and no one is going to ask except out of curiosity. People WILL ask (and care) where a doctor went to medical school.

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

36 minutes ago, Rionoir said:

No one knows where you went to nursing school, and no one is going to ask except out of curiosity. People WILL ask (and care) where a doctor went to medical school.

Wrong. When you apply for your first RN job as a new grad, that is the first thing an employer will look at. They will also demand a copy of your transcripts. And don't delude yourself. I've been a hiring manager. When I get new grad resumes, I definitely look at their school. In addition, some schools have very large and powerful alumni networks. UCLA is great example for California - very loyal alumni who will definitely give more consideration to a UCLA grad. In Baltimore-Washington DC, Johns Hopkins and U of Maryland grads are going to be rated higher on initial evaluation.

Good community colleges can also have an "in" in their area. I'm from North San Diego County, which has 2 fine ADN nursing programs - Mira Costa and Palomar. Their grads get hired by the best hospitals in San Diego County, such as UCSD, the VA, Scripps, and Sharp, but that is because the students do clinicals there and there are also alumni from those schools working there. A new grad moving to San Diego County who has gone to a school with no name recognition will be at a disadvantage when looking for work.

Edited by FullGlass