How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

April 25, 2024
4 min read


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

If you’re interested in the cost of nursing school, read our guide for a full breakdown of everything you need to know.

Imagine dedicating your life to caring for others, only to be held back by the financial burden of obtaining the necessary education. It's a harsh reality that many face when considering a career in nursing.

But don't let the cost deter you from pursuing your dreams. With the right information and resources, you can navigate the expenses and find ways to make nursing school more affordable.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down the average cost of nursing school by program and discuss the various factors that can impact your total expenses. We'll also explore ways to pay for nursing school and answer some frequently asked questions about nursing education costs.

So, if you're ready to take the first step towards a fulfilling career in nursing, read on. We'll help you understand the financial landscape and provide the tools you need to make your nursing education a reality.

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Nursing School Cost by Degree

The cost of nursing school varies significantly by degree program. Here is a breakdown of the costs of each nursing degree

1. LPN

LPN programs typically cost $4,000 to $28,000 in total, with most students paying $8,000 to $12,000. Your career options will differ from an RN if you choose to stop at an LPN certificate.


ADN-RN programs usually cost $12,000 to $35,000, with an average cost of $18,000 to $25,000. Career opportunities may be limited if you opt for the shorter path.


BSN-RN programs at public schools range from $40,000 to $80,000, while private schools cost $60,000 to $120,000. Out-of-state students pay significantly more


Becoming an APRN requires a BSN plus a 2-4 year master's degree, costing anywhere from $63,000 to over $200,000 in total. APRNs land the highest-paid nursing jobs.

To summarize the above information, here’s a table comparing nursing school costs by degree. 

Type of Nursing Program Minimum Cost Average Maximum Cost
LPN $4,000 $8,000 to $12,000 $28,000
ADN-RN $12,000 $18,000 to $25,000 $35,000
BSN-RN $40,000 $40,000 to $80,000 $120,000
APRN $63,000 $63,000-$100,000 $200,000

Keep in mind that these numbers are based on US averages, and may not reflect the total cost of a nursing degree including books, travel, etc. 

What Else Affects Nursing School Costs?

Here are a few considerations that may help you save on nursing school in certain areas. 

Online vs. On-Campus Program

Have you considered doing your nursing degree online? Online school can help you save on facility fees, transportation costs, food, costs, and more. Some schools also have a lower tuition rate for online students. 

If you’re someone who enjoys studying at libraries, cafes, or at home - attending nursing school online might be an excellent way to save up and stay cozy. To do well in an online degree, you must be good with self-motivation. If you choose this option, just make sure to follow your schedule and do your homework!

Public vs. Private Nursing School Programs

Choosing a state school for your nursing degree over a private or Ivy League institution will help you save exponentially on your nursing degree. You can still get a high-quality education from a less prestigious school. Many employers will care more about your demeanor and passion than your school.

When it comes to choosing a public or private institution, go with your gut. Ultimately what matters most is that you are confident and proud of your decision. Just make sure whichever college you choose has a good reputation, and meets all of your needs as a student. 


Location can make a significant impact on how much it costs to go to nursing school. Out-of-state and international fees can add thousands of dollars to your overall tuition cost. However, this doesn’t always mean you have to attend a local college in your hometown to save up. 

If your dream school is out of state, but you want to avoid paying extra, consider taking a gap year and becoming a resident of that state before attending school. Each state has different laws surrounding how to become a resident. 

For example, in Ohio, you can become a resident by registering a car in the state, registering to vote, and declaring the state your permanent residence. In most cases, you can become a resident of a different state by living there for 12 months without being a full-time student.

Other Nursing School Costs

Here are some additional costs and considerations to apply to your nursing school budget. 

Books & Supplies

Like most higher education programs, there are plenty of fees that contribute to the cost of nursing schools. You’ll have to pay for books, supplies, and accessories. Some supplies you’ll need will be specific to nursing school, such as uniforms, a stethoscope, scissors, penlights, and more. 

Health Costs

Most nursing schools require students to pay health-associated fees and costs as part of their program. Sometimes these are included in your overall tuition and fees, but sometimes they are separate costs to look out for. 

You should consider budgeting for a drug screening test, a TB test, a background check, required booster shots, bloodwork, and a Hepatitis B vaccine series. In certain instances, you may also need to purchase personal malpractice insurance.

Transportation & Food

It can be easy to overlook day-to-day costs such as transportation and on-campus meals when budgeting for nursing school, but it’s important to count them in. Depending on where you go to school, you should consider the amount you may spend on gas or public transit. 

For some students, it may even be cheaper to pay rent closer to campus in the long run. If you live close by, you’ll be able to go home for lunches, save on transit, and it may even help you get to class on time!

Childcare, Decreased Income

If you are a parent, a non-traditional nursing school applicant, or a young student who is currently working to support yourself - there are a few extra needs to consider. Some nursing schools offer childcare on campus, which is certainly something to look out for. 

If you have added life expenses, you will need to consider that you will have a decreased income while in school. Nursing school takes up a lot of time as well as physical and mental energy. It may be challenging to work a regular job while you are completing your degree, so it’s important to manage your finances accordingly.

To help you prepare for what your total bill might look like, take a look at your target school’s tuition calculator. Most schools offer this tool to help prospective students get a better idea of what to expect. For example, take a look at the tuition calculator for nursing school at the Maine College of Health Professions. 

How To Pay for Nursing School

If you can’t afford to pay for nursing school out of pocket, you’re certainly not alone! Here are some options for funding your nursing education. 

Financial Aid 

Many schools offer financial aid directly to their students, which you’ll often be able to apply for after being accepted. Financial aid is typically awarded based on the amount of assistance you need and your financial situation. In your, you will have to declare your income, the income of your parents/guardians, etc. 

Student Loans

Student loans can be applied for through your state or bank. It is recommended to take student loans out only if it is necessary and to avoid taking out a student line of credit from the bank as you may have to pay interest on it. Government loans are typically more forgiving with interest. 


Nursing scholarships are typically awarded based on merit and are highly selective. However, some schools consider financial aid and scholarships to be the same and offer them on the same basis. You should do plenty of research on scholarships that are available to you based on your unique situation and how to apply for them. 


Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about nursing school costs.

1. How Much Is the Tuition for Nursing School?

The tuition for nursing school varies, with a BSN degree costing between $25,000 to $120,000 or more, depending on factors such as the type of program, school location, and reputation, with most students paying between $35,000 to $60,000 for their BSN degree.

2. How Much Does It Cost To Become a Nurse in Illinois?

In Illinois, the cost of nursing school is around $19,443, with an associate's degree in nursing or a BSN being the most expensive option.

3. How Much Does It Cost To Become an RN In Ohio?

Becoming a nurse in Ohio can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $37,000, depending on the program and school attended, with in-state students generally paying much less for nursing school in Ohio.

4. How Much Does it Cost To Become an RN In Florida?

The cost of becoming an RN in Florida varies widely, with a BSN degree ranging from $12,000 to over $200,000, depending on the school, with private institutions offering the most expensive nursing programs and public schools providing cheaper options.

5. Is Nursing School Expensive?

Nursing school can be expensive, with costs varying widely depending on the type of program, school, and location. This ranges from a few thousand dollars for an associate's degree program at a community college to tens of thousands of dollars for a bachelor's or master's degree program at a private university.

6. What Is The Average Cost Of Nursing School?

The average cost of a BSN program in the US is between $35,000 to $60,000, depending on the specific program attended.

7. How Much Is RN School In California?

In California, the average annual tuition for a BSN program is $11,442 for California residents, while out-of-state students pay an average of $41,196.

8. Why Does Nursing School Cost So Much?

Nursing school costs so much because of additional expenses beyond typical faculty, staff, and building fees, such as clinical training costs, medical technology, accreditation, and regulatory requirements. Many see nursing school as an investment in a rewarding and financially stable career.

9. Is Going To Nursing School Worth The Cost?

Going to nursing school is worth the cost because proper education is important for a nursing career. Those who are passionate about a rewarding career will consider nursing school a good investment.

Final Thoughts

Starting your journey to becoming a nurse is a life-changing decision that requires careful consideration of the financial investment. While the cost of nursing school can vary greatly depending on the chosen path, you must keep your long-term career goals in mind.

Although LPN or CNA certificates may seem attractive due to their lower costs and shorter duration, they can limit your potential for growth, responsibility, and earning power in the long run. On the other hand, an ADN-RN degree opens the door to becoming a registered nurse but may not offer the same level of opportunities as a BSN-RN degree.

If the financial burden of nursing school seems daunting, remember that there are various resources available to help you get into your top school. Research nursing scholarships, financial aid, and student loans to alleviate the cost and make your nursing education more accessible.

Your future as a skilled, compassionate, and highly-valued healthcare provider awaits!

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