Federal Nursing Scholarships

Federal nursing scholarships are available from different agencies and departments of the federal government.  These scholarships are designed to encourage students from underrepresented groups to attend nursing schools throughout the country.  Nurse shortages in specific geographic locations are also the target of several government nursing scholarships.  All federally-funded nursing scholarship programs require students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered.

The following below are examples of nursing scholarships sponsored by the federal government.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Many nursing scholarship programs are administered through this Department.  It provides the majority of federal aid to nursing schools through such programs at the Nursing Scholarship Program.  The primary purpose of Department funding is to develop a pool of nurses who will work in underserved areas across the country.  Students who receive Department scholarships are typically required to commit to work for a period of time in a location identified to have an extreme shortage of nurses.  The following are additional nursing scholarship program offered by the Department.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Coordinated by the Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Services, the Corps offers several scholarship opportunities, each with specific service requirements.  For each year of financial assistance provided by the Corps, nursing students are expected to work at least one year in a location designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).  There is a two-year minimum and four-year maximum service requirement.  In return, students will receive financial assistance for tuition, books, and fees.  A taxable living stipend is provided monthly to eligible students.  Only students pursuing degrees to become a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or certified nurse-midwife are eligible to apply for this program.  Interested students must apply directly to the Corps for funding. Applications are available and are due during the spring of each year. For applications and guidelines, contact the Bureau at (800) 221-9393.

Healthcare Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

This program is coordinated by the Department’s Bureau of Health Professions.  It is for economically disadvantaged students interested in pursuing a nursing career.  Students must be enrolled full-time at an accredited nursing school to be considered.  Scholarships are awarded based primarily on financial need as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Award amounts vary and can be used to cover tuition costs, books, fees, and living expenses.  Interested students can apply for this scholarship directly through their school’s financial aid office.

Undergraduate Scholarship Program

The National Institutes of Health offers scholarships to disadvantaged nursing students who plan to pursue a career in health-related research that focuses on behavioral, biomedical, or social science issues.  Current enrollment in an accredited four-year nursing program is required.  This program is not open to graduating high school students. Scholarships are awarded based on high academic scores and “exceptional financial need.” Typical awards are $20,000 each year which are to be used for tuition costs, books, fees, and living expenses.  Scholarships are renewable for a total of four years.  Students will receive paid training at the Institutes during the summer.  The Institutes hires students who successfully obtain their nursing degree. Applications are typically due by the end of January annually and are available directly from the Institutes.

U.S. Department of Defense

The Department administers multiple nursing scholarship programs for various branches of the military that seek qualified nurses.  These scholarship programs typically require a service commitment from scholarship recipients.  Following is an example of a nursing scholarship offered by the Department.

U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship

The Medical Department offers multiple scholarships for undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate nursing students.  The F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program is a popular military nursing scholarship.  Scholarship recipients receive full tuition and a stipend for monthly living expenses.  This program is for graduate nursing students attending any accredited nursing program at a college or university in the country.  Students who receive this award receive a sign-on bonus of $20,000, scholarships that pay for tuition, books and fees and a monthly stipend that exceeds $2,100.  When school breaks, students receiving training with an army team and are paid at Officer’s rate for their time.  Upon graduation, students enter active duty as a nurse.  Service commitment is one year in the army for each year of scholarship receipt.  Students interested in this opportunity should contact the Army directly for additional information.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Nursing scholarships are available through the Department for individuals who have already served in the military as well as their families.  The Department also offers nursing scholarships to employees and non-employees who are willing to work at the Department upon graduation.  The following is an example of a scholarship program open to non-employees.

Health Professional Scholarship

This program is intended to recruit qualified nursing staff to work at VA medical centers across the country.  Full-time nursing students who are enrolled in an accredited nursing program may be eligible for this scholarship.  Students must commit to work at a VA medical center for at least two years after graduation.  Scholarship recipients must become licensed prior to their employment. Awards are to be used for tuition costs, books, fees, and living expenses.  Students interested in this opportunity should contact the Department directly for additional information including applications and guidelines.

U.S. Department of Education

The Department offers merit scholarships to students who meet high standards of academic achievement established by the department.  These scholarships, while not specific to nursing, are open to nursing students who meet all eligibility requirements.  Following is an example of a Department scholarship program.

Academic Competitiveness Grant

This scholarship opportunity is for graduating high school students who completed rigorous academic programs during high school.  Nursing students who meet all eligibility requirements for these scholarships can apply for financial assistance.  Students must be receiving the Pell Grant to be eligible. Part-time students are eligible as long as they are enrolled on a half-time basis. Award amounts are $750 for freshman year and $1,300 for sophomore year of college. Students can learn more about this financial assistance program by contacting their high school’s guidance office or their nursing school’s financial aid office to get applications and guidelines.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

Economically disadvantaged nursing students may be eligible for this federal financial assistance program.  Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program to qualify.  Only students who are currently receiving the Pell Grant and have an extremely low Expected Family Contributions (EFC) obligation are likely to receive this award.  Awards are made based on need, date of application, and where you attend school.  Award amounts range from $100 to $4,000.  Nursing students can learn more about this program by contacting their school’s financial aid office.

Students can use federal nursing scholarships at nursing schools across the country.  In addition to federal financial assistance specifically for nursing education, students can access additional federal aid from numerous federal agencies that will supplement nursing scholarships.  The combined awards cannot exceed the total cost of your education, but the more you apply for, you may be able to get your entire nursing education paid in full.