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Funding Resources for Future Nurse Educators
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4th Sep, 2009 | Source : American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)

Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student capacity at a time when the need for professional registered nurses in the US workforce continues to grow.  Federal authorities, healthcare leaders, nursing organizations, and other stakeholders all point to a shortage of faculty as a primary driver of the national nursing shortage.

Nurses considering teaching roles often point to a lack of financial resources needed to pursue the graduate degrees required to serve as faculty.  Contrary to what you may think, the funding is out there if you know where to look.

The first place to go when seeking funding for your graduate nursing education is the financial aid office at your local school of nursing. Most grant and loan programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education, such as Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, and Stafford Loans, are managed through the nursing school’s financial aid office.  Eligibility for some programs, including Perkins Loans, is based on financial need. In order to receive any assistance through these programs, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA online at

Federal Financial Aid Offered by Your School of Nursing

Schools of nursing manage a variety of scholarship and loan programs for students pursuing graduate nursing degrees. Some programs do not require repayment while traditional loan programs have a payback requirement.  Other programs may also require a post-graduation service commitment. Funded by the Division of Nursing at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), these programs include:

  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program assists graduate students pursing faculty careers. Students must agree to teach at a school of nursing in exchange for cancellation of up to 85% of their educational loans, plus interest, over a four-year period.
  • Advance Education Nurse Traineeships provides financial assistance to graduate nursing students including full or partial support for the costs of tuition, books, program fees, and reasonable living expenses.
  • Nursing Student Loan Program assists graduate nursing students with a maximum of $13,000 at 5% interest, with a preference for those with financial need. The repayment period is 10 years. The program provides $2,500 in non-taxable loans to students during their first two years of study and $4,000 for their last two years.

The U.S. Department of Education administers the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program that provides fellowships, through schools of nursing, to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue a research-focused doctoral degree. Nursing has been identified as an area of national need. See

Please note that not all schools of nursing do not offer these funding opportunities, so check first with the financial aid department at the institutions you are considering attending.

Federal Financial Aid that Nursing Students Can Apply For

The Division of Nursing at HRSA also offers loan and scholarship programs for which you can apply, including:

  • Nurse Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs support current students and new graduates. See These programs include:

    • Loan Repayment: Repays up to 85% of nursing student loans in return for at least three years of practice in a designated healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses.
    • Scholarship: Offers individuals who are enrolled or accepted for enrollment as full-time nursing students the opportunity to apply for scholarship funds. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in a healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses for at least two years.

The Bureau of Health Professions at HRSA also offers funding opportunities for graduate students. See These programs include:

  • The Faculty Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who serve as faculty at eligible health professions schools for a minimum of two years. See
  • The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students Program provides scholarships to full-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds who demonstrate financial need. See

State Sponsored Scholarship and Loan Forgiveness Programs

Some states have developed programs that offer loan forgiveness for nursing faculty or have proposed legislation to provide funding assistance to nurse educators.  To find out if a program is available in your state or if one is being considered, see these resources:

Individuals are encouraged to check with their state higher education agency or board of nursing to find out what other financial aid programs are available. To make contact with your local board, see

In addition to federal and state financial aid programs for graduate nursing students and nurse educators, dozens of programs are available through private organizations and specialty-focused agencies. Companies like Johnson & Johnson, organizations like the National Student Nurses Association, and foundations like the American Cancer Society all offer scholarships for graduate nursing students.  For a complete listing of the resources available to students, see



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