How to Access Incentives to Become a Nurse

by Ryan Winter on October 6, 2009

“My friend got her way paid down to ___, her living arrangements taken care of, loans forgiven, even got a signing bonus…”

We’ve heard countless people relay such success stories of those willing to help alleviate America’s nursing shortage. But what’s the reality? Is it possible to have some (or all) of your costs for becoming an RN paid for?


Though you might not happen upon an all-expenses-paid dream scenario from a facility desperate to recruit you, there are hundreds of incentive programs to help take the financial sting out of becoming a nurse.

Here are a few of the ways – from coast-to-coast – you can get your education, re-education, and even your actual job subsidised by the communities that need nurses most:

Job incentives that involve loan repayment

NELRP is a competitive program that repays 60% of your student loans, if you qualify and make the cut. The catch – if you get into the program – is that you must work for two years at a critical shortage facility. Some participants who are especially interested in squashing their debt may be eligible to work a third year to receive an additional 25% off their loan balance.

State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education for Nurses in State Facilities (SNAPLE NSF) is intended to encourage registered nurses and students who will become registered nurses to seek employment in California-state-operated 24-hour facilities with a nursing vacancy rate of greater than 10%. In return, the program pays up to a total of $20,000 on outstanding student loans.

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program provides $50,000 (or the outstanding balance of qualifying student loans if it is less than $50,000), tax free, to primary care medical, dental and mental health clinicians in exchange for two years of service at an approved site in a “Health Professional Shortage Area”. Upon completion of the service commitment, clinicians may be eligible to apply for additional support for extended service.

The Delaware Nursing Incentive Program is a merit-based recruitment program for Delaware residents enrolled in an accredited program leading to certification as an RN or LPN. The amount of the award varies but is put towards outstanding student debt.

The Oregon Nursing Services Program provides student loan repayment on behalf of registered nurses (RNs) who enter into agreements to practice in “nursing critical shortage areas” in Oregon. Oregon residency is not required when applying.

Nursing grants and scholarships for nursing in specific regions

Freeman Nurse Scholarships provide $7,500 to $34,000 to undergrad/graduate nursing students at nursing schools in Vermont who are willing to practice nursing in Vermont for a certain period.

In exchange for at least two years service at a health care facility with a critical shortage of nurses, the Nursing Scholarship Program pays tuition, other required fees, reasonable costs including books and lab supplies, and a monthly stipend of $1,269.

National Student Nurses Association ‘Promise of Nursing’ regional scholarships provide financial support for those studying nursing in California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

Fellowships and scholarships for nurses looking to become PhDs

The American Academy of Nursing awards $100,000 over two years to successful predoctoral scholar candidates who are degree-holding registered nurses interested in an academic and research career.

The Claire M. Fagin Fellowship provides $120,000 over two years for advanced research training and mentorship to assist doctorally-prepared degree-holding nurses in the U.S. (who are U.S. citizens) committed to pursuing faculty careers in geriatric nursing.

Nursing faculty training/retraining incentives

Even larger than the shortage of nurses in America is the shortage of faculty at nursing colleges. The National Student Nurses’ Association Promise of Nursing Regional Faculty Fellowship awards $1,000 to $7,500 to registered nurses looking to train to become teaching staff.

State Nursing Assumption Program of Loans for Education for Nursing Faculty (SNAPLE NF) – pays up to a total of $25,000 over three years to encourage students to complete a baccalaureate or graduate degrees and teach in a nursing program at a regionally accredited college or university in California.

More opportunities

Summary of California specific grants and scholarships specific to nursing.

In the San Francisco Bay Area

In Maryland

General U.S. healthcare career incentives

Online search for nursing scholarships

List of more loan repayment programs

Assistance for disadvantaged applicants

National Black Nurses Association scholarships

National Association of Hispanic Nurses scholarships

Honor Society of Nursing

Free continuing education (online for nurses)

Other educational opportunities for nurses


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

edu 12.11.09 at 3:06 am

thanks for your blog info.
Could you please advise me on what to do for my family that want to come to U.S.A as a nurse to continue her job as a nurse.


Ryan Winter 12.11.09 at 10:51 am

Edu – thanks for your comment. The US Immigration site is probably your best resource for information on becoming a nurse in the United States:


Mark H 12.06.16 at 1:15 am

My wife is a nurse and I think this job is really underappreciated.


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