Need to work to afford RN program, advice appreciated

Nursing Students General Students


Hello everyone,

I'm am about to start my RN program in about 3 weeks and I am pretty excited to start :). I, unfortunately, have come across a problem that has been stressing me out. At the end of Spring 12, I received an e-mail that I will no longer be eligible for the pell grant because I have been attending college for more than 6 years. I might be eligible for the cal grant C, but $550 is nothing compared to what I got from the pell grant. I was trying not to let that discourage me too much, until I found out that my school does not participate in federal loan programs. I have tried looking into private loans, but I can't get those either. The school is accredited; it's just that they don't bother with loans since a lot of people here can't pay it back. I once again, try not to let this bother me, but I am having a difficult time finding a decent job. My biggest mistake was that I only applied to certain jobs this summer (educational or hospital). I didn't hear anything for weeks and when I finally heard something, I wasn't considered because of my school schedule. I have now recently applied to part-time retail/fast food jobs and I am pretty nervous. I don't think I'm going to get a schedule is too random. I am currently staying with my mom, but I really need a job to pay for materials/gas/food...etc. throughout the semester. I actually worked as a tutor at my college for a year, but I am trying to avoid it for now. The pay is good ($10 an hour starting this year), but my first pay check takes 2 months to arrive, it's ridiculous. I get paid monthly after that. I really need money now, but I will definitely accept it if I don't hear anything back. I am also aware about my school scholarships (you can't apply until October for them). My mom does not have a lot of money; I come from a poor family. My older sister is my only choice, but I would hate to ask for money if she doesn't offer. I know not much can be said besides "wow, you are screwed :P", but if anyone knows about any other grants or loans (doubt it), scholarships, jobs that work around schedules, tips...whatever, that would help. Fortunately, bogg pays for my classes so I don't have to worry about that (California community college) and I was able to buy most of the required items with the money I had saved up. I'm just worried about how it goes once I start the semester. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Can you wait tables somewhere? Restaurants are open all hours & most are 365/days a year! I made great money waitressing & bartending. Very flexible too. Good luck to you!

What about a CNA position with an agency? I used to do agency staffing of nurses and CNAs, and the reliable good workers could essentially make their own schedules.

I agree with MichG, seek out a job in a restaurant/bar. If you have no bartending experience, apply as a server, and be sure to include your experience tutoring on your application. It shows that you communicate well, and are helpful, patient, and good at explaining things! I have worked as a server ("waitress" never bothered me, but "server" is more PC) and bartender during my entire college experience. It is great because you have cash in hand every shift, and you can pick up additional shifts if needed. Also, where I work people are always willing to trade shifts, so if I have a big exam the next day, I can swap my shift for the night before for one later in the week. Any restaurant I have worked has been this way, which is great for someone like you with a wacky schedule. Also, and it may seem like overkill, but when you apply for a serving job, bring a resume and dress nicely. We nearly always hire people that make that effort, just because we get so many applicants that show up in torn jeans with errors on their application since its "just a serving job." Good luck, let us know how it goes!

Thanks for the suggestions everyone :). I have only applied for the part-time jobs that showed up on on the popular job sites (,, and I have not come across any restaurant type ones. I will have to check out restaurant websites. As for CNA, I'm not certified (I should have it when I finish my first semester of my RN program), so that will have to wait until the end of fall. Also, I always make sure to dress up professionally, no matter what type of job it is ;).

I can also try applying for a scribe position, but I heard the pay was bad for the amount of work you do (minimum wage), a night shift is required once a week I believe (or at least once a month - not super sure) and they aren't too crazy about part time. They also want you to try to commit to at least 2 years, but I plan to apply for a nurse intern job at the end of my first semester so that would be a problem. I rather gain more experience to become a better nurse.

Specializes in CCRN, ED, Unit Manager.

This is a terrible thing to do, but this is what I did...

I signed up at Grand Canyon University (online school) to finish my B.S. concurrently with the RN program. My B.S. will be in Business/Applied Management, but I'm able to bridge that to a Master's in Nursing at GCU. Anyway, I did that so I could get a little bit of loan money to help subsidize my nursing program at my local college -- it's killing two birds with one stone since I'm finishing the degree, as well.

Even though it's loan money, the amount of time I put into the GCU classes is far below that of driving back and forth to a job + working, it works with my schedule and frankly it pays better if I want to take out the full stafford loan amount. The degree itself is costing around 16k, so that isn't much loan debt to have with a B.S. + a RN license.

We'll see if it blows up in my face.

Specializes in Neuroscience/Brain and Stroke.

I have been a PRN employee for 2 years now and it works out great for my school schedule. I get to pick what days I can work and can pick up full time hours whenever I choose. If you don't need benefits or sick time, you might want to look into it.

What is a PRN?

Specializes in Neuroscience/Brain and Stroke.

It's a status that gets no benefits and no paid time off. Some hospitals will pay you more per hour some won't. Scheduling depends on the company for example at my hospital I am required to work 3 days per month and one of them has to be on a weekend. I am also required to work one minor holiday per year (Labor Day, Memorial Day, and 4th of July). Once I have met this I am now free to pick up any open shifts available. PRN=as needed. Love it, some weeks (when I have finals) I work one day and then when I have a break from school I work OT. But benefits are a big deal so if you aren't covered on someone's plan this may not work out for you.

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Don't limit your search to only those positions that are posted online. Good employers don't have to post available jobs -- they have people coming to them and they simply pick the best ones. Get out and talk to people face-to-face. Introduce yourself to people. Tell anyone and everyone you know that you are looking for some part time work. You'd be surprised at what you might find.

For example: I have a family member who just had triplets. They have hired a couple of nursing students to spend a few hours per week helping take care of the babies and doing light housework. The hours for such jobs are very flexible -- but they didn't post the job on the internet. They talked to some people who knew some nursing students looking for work (friends of a friend ... that sort of thing). They weren't going to hire some strangers off the internet to work in their home.

My friends and I were just talking about something related to this at lunch today -- that too many young people don't think beyond the internet -- as if the off-line world doesn't exist. There is nothing wrong with applying to jobs online ... but if you can see them online, so can millions of other potential employees. It's very impersonal. A lot of people prefer to hire only people who come recommended by someone they already know. So get out there and connect with the people in person.

I am not sure upshot works there, but here Michigan you can apply to the career placement places like Michigan works. Ie cal works for supplemental tuition program.

I am in a similar situation and my adviser told me "you can deal with anything for 16 weeks" which is the length of our semester.

When she put it like that my anxiety went away because she was correct. I'm sure there will be times when I'm exhausted and feel like I can't take anymore but then I'll remember I probably only have to deal with it for a few more weeks and it will be over.

Where there's a will there's a way.

Best of luck!

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