Paying for Nursing School: Is Working While in Nursing School a Good Idea?

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We recommend that you do not work while in nursing school. If you have questions about how to pay for nursing school, you have options beyond trying to juggle work and school. Scholarships, grants, and loans are three popular ways people pay for nursing school.

nurse smiling at camera with out of focus nurses in background

The ability to pay for college can be as important as academic readiness for college. If you are considering how to pay for nursing school, you may be wondering if working while enrolled is an option.

Mercer University’s Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track is an accelerated path to become a nurse sooner. Because of the accelerated timeline, it is not recommended that you work while in nursing school. Pursuing a second bachelor’s degree is a big financial decision, which is why at Mercer, we do everything we can to help you along the way.

Nursing School is a Full-Time Job

During your time in the ABSN track, you will be completing coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations. The classes are online, labs will be conducted at Mercer’s ABSN Learning Site in Atlanta, and clinicals will be completed at partnering medical facilities throughout the metro area. To ensure you chart a path for success in nursing school, it is important to create space in your schedule to prioritize your academic experience and this investment in your future.

Mercer ABSN student putting on lab gloves

Decide what nursing program is right for you by learning more about the ABSN track at Mercer University.

How Can I Pay for Nursing School?

We understand that nursing school is a significant commitment and financial planning and readiness can enhance a person’s overall focus on their nursing courses, clinical preparation, and leadership opportunities. Explore some of the options for financial assistance.

Apply for Federal Financial Aid

Mercer’s ABSN track is a self-funded program. It is important to plan your financing options for the entire length of the program. To continue enrollment each semester, please note the financing deadline is the first day of classes. As a first step, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal student aid. Mercer uses the FAFSA to determine students’ eligibility for federal aid and other need-based programs. To ensure we receive the proper information:

  • Mercer’s school code is 001580
  • List fifth year/other undergraduate as your grade level
  • Specify second bachelor’s degree as your degree type
  • Answer “No” in response to whether you are in a graduate or professional program

Depending on which semester you enroll, you may be required to submit more than one FAFSA, as annual loan eligibility is renewed every two semesters.

Visit our financial planning page for additional information. If you are new to the FAFSA or have questions about financial aid, connect with an enrollment counselor who will walk you through the process.

student smiling at camera in mock hospital room

Learn about Georgia Resident State Aid

If you qualify as a Georgia State Resident, you may be eligible to receive financial aid through the Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant. This grant offers approximately $500 per semester (subject to change each year) for undergraduates attending private colleges in Georgia. State aid amounts are set during the Georgia legislative session each year. To qualify, students must be enrolled full-time at a private Georgia college such as Mercer, have earned fewer than 127 credit hours, established residency in Georgia, and complete the FAFSA or GSFAPP.

The Georgia Student Finance Commission also offers the Student Access Loan –– a 1% fixed-rate loan designed to assist undergraduate and technical college students who have a gap in meeting educational costs.

Explore Nursing Scholarships

The widespread nursing shortage has motivated many corporations and organizations to offer scholarships, programs, and grants for nursing students. These scholarships are designed to encourage more people to pursue nursing by alleviating financial costs.

Explore resources such as Scholarship Universe –– a free tool available to admitted and current Mercer students to search and apply for thousands of scholarships.

Georgia also has several scholarships available to those within the state wishing to pursue or continue their education in nursing. Some of these scholarships are available from the government; others are from nonprofit organizations.

The Nurse Corps offers scholarship opportunities on the condition that you work in an underserved community facility for a specified period upon graduation. This is a great opportunity to serve others as a nurse and receive financial assistance.

Please note that you must notify Mercer’s Office of Student Financial Planning of any outside scholarship awards that you receive. If you choose to go this route, begin applying to these scholarships early so that you may plan accordingly.

Private Loans

Federal student aid may cover a portion of tuition for Mercer’s ABSN track, but it is important to consider other options for additional funding. Mercer recommends all students complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility for any remaining federal loans before applying for a private loan.

If you choose to pursue a private loan, be sure to research banks and credit unions that may offer private loans with low interest rates and good terms. With private loans, you can choose from a fixed or variable interest rate. It’s important to find out whether a lender offers borrower protection, such as flexible repayment plans or payment deferral.

Mercer ABSN student holding backpack by lockers

A helpful resource to compare private student loan offers is Sparrow. Sparrow allows students to compare personalized private student loan offers from 15+ lenders through a simple application. Using Sparrow is free, and it does not impact your credit score. Mercer recommends exhausting all federal and state eligibility before applying for a private education loan.

Set Up a Payment Plan

If you would prefer to spread out payment of your direct charges over multiple months, considering enrolling in a payment plan before the first day of the semester. This may be an option for you if you are depending on a monthly income to help finance your nursing school tuition.

Mercer’s Office of the Bursar offers more information about payment plans. To enroll in a plan, you will login to your MyMercer student portal at, select the Pay and Manage Account link under My Finances. Select Set Up a Payment Plan and continue to follow the instructions. It is important to note that all payment arrangements must be completed by the first date of each semester.

Invest in Your Future with Nursing School

At Mercer we understand that pursuing a second bachelor’s degree is a big financial decision, which is why we do everything we can to help you along the way. Twelve months of hard work and dedication is an investment for a rewarding career as a nurse.

Mercer ABSN student studying at table

Nursing school can be rigorous, so developing your nursing time management skills is vital.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 median salary of registered nurses was $77,600, with a growth of 6% anticipated between 2021 and 2031. The highest 10% of nurses, including those with advanced degrees, earned more than $120,250 annually. If you choose to go back to school to pursue higher positions in your career, the wage and job outlook continue to grow.

The nursing field is looking for quality graduates like those from Mercer University. With an increasing demand for nurses with BSNs, adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to your credentials would be an advantage in today’s market compared to nurses with associate degrees or certifications. During your clinical rotations, you will have the opportunity to network with excellent hospitals and medical facilities in metro Atlanta. By pursuing a BSN, you are investing in a brighter future and a fulfilling career as a nurse.

Get Started with Mercer’s ABSN Track

Mercer is committed to helping you understand all financial aid options available to make the best-informed decision for working while in nursing school. If you are ready to take the next step or have questions about Mercer’s ABSN track, connect with an enrollment counselor to learn more.