10 Best Ways To Get Nurse Practitioner School Paid For

Written By: Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN

So, you’re thinking about going back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Good choice! However, you may be wondering how to pay for NP school? I have great news for you. Nurse practitioners are currently in high demand. Employers looking to recruit NPs are getting creative. They are finding ways to help alleviate your NP school debt as an incentive for employment. For this reason and more, there are now many alternatives to pay for your NP degree without you footing the bill. Read on and breathe a sigh of relief as you find out the 10 best ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for.


(Following are the 10 best ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for.)

1. Federal and State Grants

Remember filling out the FAFSA form when applying for colleges in your senior year of high school? Well, the first step in the search for ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for is ¬to still apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Taking the time to fill out the FAFSA is crucial as it is a valuable tool that opens doors for different types of financial aid, including grants.

Federal grants are generally based on financial need and do not need to be repaid. You can receive grant aid for up to 6 years of schooling. State grants are based on merit as well as need along with specific areas of study, such as nursing.

Both federal and state grants are available for graduate students, although not as plentiful as for undergraduate students. However, once you fill out the FAFSA form and hear back from them, you can talk with your college financial aid office to discuss all of your options for federal and state grants and have them answer your questions.


2. Federal and State Scholarships

Once again, you will need to complete the FAFSA application to be considered for a federal or state scholarship. The scholarships can be merit-based or based on need. You will have to apply for each scholarship individually. Talk with your college financial department for more information, if interested.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration offers all kinds of grants and ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for. One way to get NP school paid for is through the nurse corps loan repayment program. This federal program offers repayment of 85% of your nursing debt. You must also have attended an approved school and be willing to work for 2 years in education or a public or private critical shortage facility.

In 2020, an emergency financial aid act was added under Section 3504 of the CARES Act to give additional financial aid to state institutions for grants. This fund is for graduate and undergraduate students who have been impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic financially. It is not clear how long this emergency funding will be available, so it is best to look into the details promptly while it lasts.

3. College Grants

Although many college grants, including the Pell grant, are mainly for undergraduate students, some are still offered for aspiring nurse practitioner students. Postgraduate college grants are many times based on need. However, certain specific criteria such as gender, certain occupations including nursing, and minorities are designated for grants also.

The college grant option for graduate students may take a little research, so it is recommended that you work with the college financial aid department. But the point is that grant money is available for NP students.

4. College Scholarships

Some college scholarships that nurse practitioner students can apply for are based on need. Completing the FAFSA form will help provide the college with necessary information for this type of scholarship.

You may be hesitant to apply for a merit-based college scholarship if you are not a straight-A student. Don’t be scared away from investigating scholarships if you are an average student. Although some college scholarships are awarded to top-achieving students, various other types are awarded also. College scholarships come in all shapes and sizes with criteria based on ethnicity, interests, religion, location, volunteer service, and so much more. Since a scholarship does not need to be repaid, it is worth investing the time to check out this option.

5. Military

The US army, navy, and air force offer a very generous scholarship for nurses called The F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program. This financial gift covers the majority of NP school costs in exchange for military service as an NP, making it one of the best ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for in its entirety.

Also, if you enlist in the military or reserves, you can count on having your tuition paid for by the Military Tuition Assistance Program. There is also a GI Bill Top-Up Program that will cover other unpaid college-related expenses.

For those who want adventure and their schooling paid for, the military is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for.

6. Private Scholarships

Private scholarships are offered for nurse practitioner students for a variety of non-traditional reasons such as volunteerism or membership in an organization as well as merit-based. Some ways to find private scholarships are to research area civic organizations, google graduate nurse or nurse practitioner scholarships, and ask your employer and university you plan to attend if they offer any private scholarships. Often, a list of private nursing scholarships is available that sometimes are not fully utilized.

A list of some of the more recognized private nurse practitioner scholarships include:

• American Association of Nurse Practitioner Scholarship
• Tylenol Future Care Scholarship
• AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship
• NPHF/Proctor & Gamble Endowed Scholarship for Community Service
• Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation
• AANP Scholarships program

7. State Loan Payback Programs

Individual states offer loan forgiveness to nurses who agree to the terms designated by each state. Each state has its own criteria, so you would need to investigate your state's specific guidelines. For example, Pennsylvania’s Primary Care Loan Repayment Program offers nurse practitioners up to $60,000 of loan repayment if you agree to work in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas. Other states offer similar incentives and terms.

8. Employer Tuition Payment Program

One of the pros of being a nurse practitioner is the good possibility that your current nursing employer will offer an employee tuition payment program. I was fortunate at my last 2 jobs; they offered tuition funding for nurses as part of the employment package with no terms attached except that classes had to be related to the job. However, some employers may require that a nurse work at their facility as an NP in exchange for them paying for schooling to become a nurse practitioner.

Employee tuition payment is one of the more traditional avenues to get nurse practitioner school paid for. If your current employer does not offer it, you may want to consider working at a facility that does provide this lucrative perk before starting NP school.

For example, a large teaching hospital in my hometown offers free college tuition at the associated university for their employees and families. Many nurses in the area strive to work at this hospital system mainly for the bonus of having college paid for themselves and their families.

9. Employer Payback

One of the more common ways to get NP school paid for is by negotiating loan repayment in the employee compensation package when seeking a new job as a nurse practitioner. Due to the demand for nurse practitioners, many employers offer a very generous comprehensive nurse practitioner benefits package, including tuition reimbursement.

However, if they do not offer this benefit, it may be wise to discuss it as one of your terms. Remember, you will be a precious commodity once you become a nurse practitioner. Your future employer may want to find out what they can do to bring you on board. So, remember to incorporate loan repayment in your future negotiations.

10. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

This type of loan repayment is for the nurse practitioner who is working full time at a not-for-profit organization such as any level of the government, the Peace Corp, or a non-profit institution. You would need to start to repay your student loan without default before applying for Public Service Loan Repayment. This type of forgiveness program is slightly complicated to understand, but the application is easy to fill out. Fortunately, numerous online student financial assistance organizations are available if you google Public Service Loan Repayment Program to aid you in this process.


The number of adult learners returning to school is increasing. Nurse practitioner students typically fall in the category of adult learners. Financial aid for those 25 or older can vary from those under 25 years old and living with their parents. Although a nurse practitioner student may be familiar with some of the financial aid programs from undergraduate school, how to pay for NP school? is a common and legitimate question. Hopefully, now that you have been informed about the 10 best ways to get nurse practitioner school paid for, you can rest assured that paying for your future NP education can be easily achieved.

Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Donna Reese is a freelance nurse health content writer with 37 years nursing experience. She has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in her local community clinic and as an RN in home health, rehabilitation, hospital, and school nursing.