These Universities Offer Free Nursing School

Some universities are offering free nursing school options. Learn how you can pursue your nursing education tuition-free.
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Free nursing school may sound like a pipe dream, but it's a potential reality for hundreds of college students nationwide.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are projected to be among the fastest-growing professions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a 45% projected growth rate from 2022-2032. The profession can lead to above-average salaries, with NPs boasting a $126,260 median salary in 2023, but most nursing jobs require a college education.

A nursing degree can cost as little as $7,000, or as much as $300,000.

A nursing degree's high potential sticker price can leave many hesitant to enter the profession. However, a handful of options are available to aspiring nurses hoping to earn a tuition-free education.

University of Rochester School of Nursing

The University of Rochester (UR) in New York recently began offering a tuition-free bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.

The UR Nursing Scholars Program, launched in August, waives tuition for students enrolled in the school's accelerated bachelor's degree program.

UR Nursing Scholars applies only to those who already hold a bachelor's degree in a major other than nursing. Students can then enroll in the University of Rochester's program and earn a BSN in just 12 months, which is about six months shorter than the typical accelerated degree program.

Graduates must agree to work at a local hospital as a nurse for at least three years after graduation.

Lisa Kitko, dean of the UR School of Nursing, previously told BestColleges that the goal of UR Nursing Scholars was to fast-track the process to get more nurses into the local community as quickly as possible to address the nursing shortage. Additionally, by erasing tuition, students can focus on their studies without worrying about taking on debt or continuing to work while in school.

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The Leonard A. Lauder Community Care Nurse Practitioner Program waives tuition for nurses looking to become nurse practitioners.

Nurses must obtain a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree to become an NP. The University of Pennsylvania's tuition-free program is open to those who already have a BSN degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Additionally, they must have worked in a clinical setting for at least one year before pursuing an MSN.

Students with additional financial needs may apply for a stipend to cover living expenses.

In 2023, the university accepted up to 20 fellows to be part of the program.

The university stated its goal is to have up to 40 fellows enrolled annually by 2026.

Graduates from the fellowship program are expected to practice nursing in underserved areas for at least two years.

Chamberlain University College of Nursing

The Called-to-Care Scholars Program at Chamberlain University provides students with three years of tuition-free schooling in exchange for a work commitment.

Called-to-Care is a partnership between Chamberlain University and LCMC Health, a New Orleans-based health system serving southern Louisiana. LCMC Health pays a student's tuition for up to three years as they pursue a BSN from Chamberlain.

In exchange, graduates must agree to work at an LCMC Health location for at least three years.

Students must pass the NCLEX licensing exam after earning their degree. If a student fails to pass the exam and cannot deliver on the work requirement, they must repay LCMC Health for all tuition charges the nonprofit covered.

Called-to-Care can accommodate up to 90 students per year, according to the university.

University of Texas Permian Basin School of Nursing

Thanks to a $10 million donation, University of Texas (UT) Permian Basin began offering a four-year scholarship that covers tuition and fees for undergraduates majoring in nursing and other healthcare-related majors.

Students must apply for the Permian Strategic Partnership (PSP), as only a limited number of renewable scholarships exist for each academic year.

PSP candidates must have a GPA of at least 2.5, be a permanent resident in the Permian Basin region, and be admitted to the UT Permian Basin School of Nursing to qualify for the scholarship. Nineteen counties in Texas fall under the Permian Basin region, as well as three counties in New Mexico, according to the university.

Students must keep a GPA of 2.5 or higher to retain the scholarship each semester.

New River Community College

The Nursing Scholars Program at New River Community College (NRCC) is open to high school juniors and seniors interested in becoming a nurse.

The program applies to those interested in pursuing a nursing associate of applied science (AAS) degree from the Virginia community college. Students must graduate high school having completed five prerequisite courses to receive the full scholarship, which covers tuition and fees for four semesters of courses within the AAS program.

High schoolers must apply for the Nursing Scholars Program before graduation.

Applicants must have attended high school within NRCC's service region. This includes the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, and Pulaski, as well as the city of Radford.

A committee of NRCC faculty and staff will review applications to decide who gets into the Nursing Scholars Program.

All Nursing Schools

Free nursing programs may be few and far between, but the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program gives aspiring nurses a chance at tuition-free education anywhere in the U.S.

The program, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), pays tuition, fees, and a stipend to admitted applicants. Beneficiaries must agree to work for at least two years in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Maternity Care Target Area (MCTA), or Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/P).

Nurse Corps accepted 567 into the program in 2022, up from 227 in 2019.

This is a federal program, so a student must be a U.S. citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident to benefit.

Page last fact-checked on October 23, 2023