Paying for College

Nursing Scholarships

Question: I am a mother of 3 at the age of 24. I go to a community college in Denver, CO, and would like to know if there are any programs to help me pay for my nursing degree? Also I am the first in my family to go on to college.

For starters, try these Web sites below. (We don't have direct experience with any of them, so we can't give them a personal endorsement, but they do seem promising.)

You may find that, in some cases, deadlines for next September have passed, but we're not sure if that's when you plan to start or if you have another year or so to go at your community college. Some of these opportunities may necessitate relocation, and--with three children--perhaps that's not practical for you, but there may be some possibilities in the Denver area, too.

In addition, many colleges and universities offer good financial assistance for all qualified students that isn't specifically earmarked for future nurses. (Perhaps surprisingly, expensive private colleges often have the best aid.) Typically, this aid is need-based. In other words, it's computed on the basis of your ability to pay and not determined strictly by your academic record and test scores. Thus, if you have a college or university in mind that you want to attend, you should contact the financial aid office there as soon as possible and discuss what sort of funding will be available to you. Most college aid awards come in the form of a "package," which is composed of grant money (which does not have to be repaid) and loans (which do). Beware of financial aid packages that will saddle you with too many loans to repay after graduation. Some of the nursing awards that you can find through the sites above may offer better deals, especially if you are willing to work in a critical-need facility for a couple years after you earn your degree.

Being "first generation" (that is, the first in your family to go to college) will definitely be a plus for you in the admission process, though it may make the potentially daunting application process seem even more so.

Finally, for a very comprehensive look at the nursing profession ... and the steps to get you there, go to:

For info on RN to BSN programs, see

For RN to MSN programs, see

This information, compiled by Tamara B. Dolan, RN, MSN, OCN (an oncology-certified nurse with two decades of nursing experience) features over 7,000 programs and NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) pass rates for most programs. You'll also see interviews with practicing nurses and much more.

While you may not find the scholarship advice you're seeking on this site, there is a lot of helpful information about career paths for nurses that might be especially valuable to a mother of three who is trying to juggle work and family.

Good luck to you. Nurses are in demand, and thus you should have options, whatever you decide.

(updated 7/18/2012)