Top 100 Best Affordable Nursing Degree (BSN) Programs

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People who want to get into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program need to consider a few factors. One of these is accreditation. Without this official recognition of the school and its nursing program, nursing students in that program are pretty limited in what they can do after they complete their program and the funding they can obtain during the program.

Students at the beginning of their nursing education can begin at the associate level. This is one want of saving money and allows them to begin their nursing careers more quickly. Once they gain some experience, they can return to school for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing and breeze through those courses.

Some nursing students may hope to find an online nursing program. For their clinicals, they’ll still need to find a physical location where they can complete practicum hours. Students who find an online nursing program that holds the necessary accreditation will receive the same high-quality education as their peers in an on-campus nursing program.


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Why a Degree from an Affordable Nursing School?


Students planning on entering nursing school know their time in school will cost money. Even though the U.S. has experienced an extended shortage of nurses, documented in a statement from the Tri-Council for Nursing in 2010, nursing schools have been struggling to expand nursing programs all across the country. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has been working with schools, nursing organization, the media, and policy makers to keep attention on this shortage of nursing schools and nurses.

Nursing associations and nursing programs have joined together to help students make their nursing degree programs more affordable. Families may not be able to help their children realize their dreams of becoming nurses by paying for their degrees themselves. However, scholarships and grants can help to reduce the financial pressure on students and their families.

Despite access to nursing programs being made easier, going to school is still expensive. Students might experience sticker shock when they see the full cost of their schooling and, even if financial aid pays for a large portion of the costs, they’ll still pay a pretty penny for their degree. This is why it is important to nearly all students to start by seeking out an inexpensive program. No student wants to skimp on quality, but they may find that slightly larger classes or more complicated living arrangements are worth paying less overall for their schooling.

Choosing an Affordable Nursing College


For students who are getting ready to graduate from high school and start nursing school, a big part of their preparation includes looking at tuition and other costs. These students may also want to choose a school in a certain area, with a large or small student body, with plenty of online options, with a certain on-campus culture, or something else they find particularly necessary for their college journey. Students focus, not just on finding an inexpensive school, but on finding the one that is right for them.

Knowing what you want to major in is a big step in the right direction. With that decision made, you can move on to finding a program that offers you the nursing degree you need to succeed, and everything else you want, without leaving you in too much debt.

Students should be, and most are, aware that leaving school with a pile of debt on their shoulders can affect their lives long-term. Even if attending a well-known school is tempting, choosing a state university or even a community college may serve their goals better. Once they’ve weeded out schools they may not be able to afford, they can start looking at the financial aid packages available for nursing students. If loans are a part of the package, they should consider how this will affect their future plans before deciding.

The next important consideration is accreditation. Accredited universities, colleges, and individual nursing programs have been evaluated by an independent assessor and found to be of high quality. As a result, the school or program receives recognition (accreditation) which will have an impact on future students. Students from accredited schools or programs are more easily able to access financial aid, transfer and retain completed credits should they need to do so, receive a better return on their investment, access licensure programs—which is mandatory for every nurse, get into graduate or professional schools later in their careers, benefit from full career preparation, and be more likely to stay in the nursing program.

Accreditation is important enough that students should only consider schools that have at least regional accreditation. And it would be a good idea, though not necessary, to choose schools with programmatic accreditation of their nursing programs, such as that offered by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The recognized regional accreditation organizations are as follows.

  • Accrediting Commision for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Online Options


If a student finds that their best option is an online nursing degree (BSN), they should know that today’s online degree programs are just as challenging and rigorous as their on-campus counterparts. Even though they won’t be sitting in a physical classroom or lab, they will have everything they need to succeed in their classes, as long as they are determined and good at time management. Students will also need to be comfortable working with technology; online learning platforms may seem intuitive to those who are comfortable with technology and baffling to those who aren’t. A good online nursing program should also have opportunities for students and faculty to interact with each other.

Just as with on-campus Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, students should verify whether the school is accredited. Is the accreditation regional, national, or programmatic? If any online programs students are reviewing don’t have accreditation, they should just skip those and keep looking.

As for the options available online, students can find 16-month accelerated programs that offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the end, hybrid programs that offer online courses with in-class labs and practicums, or fully online programs that allow you to perform clinical hours at nearby locations. Students who already have an associate degree can choose an RN to BSN bridge program to provide them with their bachelor’s.

Are Nursing Programs (BSN) in High Demand?


Bachelor of Science in Nursing education programs are definitely in high demand and the employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. As the U.S. population ages and older people generally experience more medical issues, this career field is expected to continue to grow. As long as people also develop chronic health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, dementia and heart disease; nurses will continue to be needed and this will be a major factor for the increase in the employment of nurses at all education and licensure levels.

Currently, insurance companies are pushing hospitals to discharge patients as quickly as they can. If patients are suffering from a long-term condition that makes medical and nursing care necessary, they may be transferred to long-term care facilities until they are able to care for themselves. This push also means that home health nurses will be needed in greater numbers to care for these patients’ needs.

Long-term care facilities admit patients with Alzheimer’s disease as well as those suffering from head injuries or the aftermath of strokes. Outpatient care centers are also being built in communities around the country. Patients go here to receive needed rehabilitation services, chemotherapy, and same-day surgery. Nurses are needed to help care for all of these patients.

Best Most Affordable Nursing College Rankings


Some students rely on college and university rankings to help them make a decision about which schools they apply to. We offer rankings in a variety of fields, including nursing, and we realize that university rankings should be based on criteria that is important to students. These rankings are provided as a service to students who are trying to choose the best colleges for their career goals, and those that will best fit their or their family’s financial ability to pay for their schooling.

Some of the sources we use include government sites and job search sites that gather solid data on employment across the country. Each site offers valuable information for those students who are interested in where their degree can take them in terms of career and income.

Retention rates are just one of the important factors that colleges and universities track. This is the percentage of first-year students who decide to stay at school for their second year. A higher retention rate is generally accepted to mean that the school offers adequate services to students to allow them to succeed.

Admission rates reveal how competitive each school is. Students might see a correlation between high retention rates and low admission rates. It’s generally understood that those schools which are more exclusive do a better job of holding onto the students they do allow in.

Graduation rates, which are measured at the 4-year and 6-year marks, show the percentage of students graduating in the normal time frame. This is important for students to consider, as it lets them know how many students are meeting their graduation goals at each school. A few students might be dropping out for personal reasons, but if the graduation rate is too low, that’s a red flag you should consider before attending any school.

1

Berea College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $45,092
    • Out-of-state: $45,092
  • Net Price: $1,964
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,688
  • Undergrad Students: 1,688
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 13
  • Berea College
2
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $2,682
    • Out-of-state: $9,286
  • Net Price: $2,702
  • Retention Rate: NA
  • Total Enrollment: 28,853
  • Undergrad Students: 28,853
  • Graduate Students: 0
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 219
  • St. Petersburg College
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3

California State University-Los Angeles

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,781
    • Out-of-state: $18,661
  • Net Price: $3,859
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 26,671
  • Undergrad Students: 22,797
  • Graduate Students: 3,874
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 171
  • California State University-Los Angeles
4

CUNY Lehman College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,410
    • Out-of-state: $15,360
  • Net Price: $3,913
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,143
  • Undergrad Students: 13,002
  • Graduate Students: 2,141
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 197
  • CUNY Lehman College
5

CUNY Hunter College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,382
    • Out-of-state: $15,332
  • Net Price: $4,014
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 23,193
  • Undergrad Students: 17,121
  • Graduate Students: 6,072
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 179
  • CUNY Hunter College
6

Texas A&M International University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,683
    • Out-of-state: $18,983
  • Net Price: $4,165
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,305
  • Undergrad Students: 7,220
  • Graduate Students: 1,085
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 85
  • Texas A&M International University
7
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $8,917
    • Out-of-state: $18,733
  • Net Price: $4,419
  • Retention Rate: 76%
  • Total Enrollment: 29,113
  • Undergrad Students: 24,965
  • Graduate Students: 4,148
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 138
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
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8
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,941
    • Out-of-state: $18,821
  • Net Price: $4,683
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Total Enrollment: 17,977
  • Undergrad Students: 15,365
  • Graduate Students: 2,612
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 130
  • California State University-Dominguez Hills
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
9

CUNY York College

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,358
    • Out-of-state: $15,308
  • Net Price: $5,228
  • Retention Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,337
  • Undergrad Students: 8,116
  • Graduate Students: 221
  • Graduation Rate: 35%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 50
  • CUNY York College
10

Indiana University-Northwest

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,715
    • Out-of-state: $20,574
  • Net Price: $5,453
  • Retention Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,877
  • Undergrad Students: 3,454
  • Graduate Students: 423
  • Graduation Rate: 35%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 71
  • Indiana University-Northwest
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What Can You Do with a Degree in Nursing?


Once nursing students graduate from school, no matter what educational level they chose, it’s time to find a job. They have a wide field of options from which to make their choice. Nursing students graduating from master’s programs will find that their choices are especially good.

For those who are drawn to education, academic deans work within an education setting at a nursing school or university, where they play a large part in in the direction of the nursing curriculum for incoming students.

Nurse anesthetists often work in operating suites.

Ethicists work at one of the highest levels in the nursing field. They will be looking at real-life situations, as well as situations created for nursing students and guiding the nurses and nursing students they work with on matters of ethics in this field.

Nurse midwives work with pregnant women and those who are about to give birth.

Nurse practitioners are becoming more common in physician’s practices. While they aren’t doctors, they will take on some of the patient load in a practice, so they can see patients and make diagnoses.

A nurse researcher may be required to earn their doctorate degree in nursing. They address the questions that come up in this field, carrying out research and helping to expand the field.

A psychiatric mental health nurse must earn their RN licensure. An associate degree in nursing is a good way into this field, although a bachelor’s in nursing is better.

Nursing Graduates Earn More After College


Nurse graduates with associate degrees (Associate Degree in Nursing or ADN) earn an average of $71,000 annually. With this type of degree, they would fit well into an insurance company or a physician’s practice, where they would work directly with patients.

Nurses who earned their BSN earn an average of $87,000. As you can see, a more advanced degree helps them increase their annual income. As a nursing manager, they may earn $90,000 and, if they choose to work as a family nurse practitioner, their annual earnings increase to $97,000.

A nurse who has earned their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) may see their annual salaries increase to $96,000. If they are interested in working as a family nurse practitioner (FNP), their annual earnings remain the same. They will work with patients of all ages, as their title suggests. An advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) has earned some additional licensing, has more responsibilities, and earns an annual salary that is commensurate with their experience: $99,000.

Nurses may also choose to earn their Master of Public Health (MPH), focusing on Health Services Administration. This professional sees an annual income of around $100,000 on average.

A doctorate (PhD) nursing degree allows any nurse who has earned this terminal degree to earn even more, around $99,000 on average. If these nurses don’t want to work in a medical setting, they may choose to work as a Quality Assurance (QA) Director, where their annual salary rises to $116,000.

FAQs


  • What type of students should consider online RN to BSN bridge programs?
    Registered nurses who have earned nursing certification from low-level programs or their ADN are the best suited for RN to BSN bridge programs. This allows RNs to get credit for courses they have already taken without having to repeat their clinical hours.
  • What are the admission requirements for nursing students?
    Prospective nursing students who are still in high school must usually earn a certain score on their standardized test. One program requires a minimum of 28 on their ACT or a minimum 1300 score on their ACT. Some schools may also require a minimum cumulative GPA and have some required prerequisite courses.
  • What are the requirements of LPN to RN bridge programs?
    Current LPNs who are considering entering an LPN to RN bridge program should make sure they have all documentation ready before they apply. Some requirements are the same in nearly every program.

    These are:

    • A current LPN license
    • High school diploma
    • A minimum of six months of LPN experience
    • A passing score on the entrance exam
  • Can I apply relevant learning, work, and life experience toward credit?
    In some programs, students who have relevant experience outside the classroom may be able to qualify for academic credit. Students can prove their knowledge through prior learning assessments (PLAs). These measure their knowledge against college-level material. Students who receive PLA credits can save whole semesters of study time.
  • What are the requirements for transferring to a new program?
    Nursing students who want to transfer into a new school have to meet several requirements. These include a grade of “C” or better for every nursing course that will be accepted for transfer. Students transferring to a different nursing school are required to submit a nursing admission application, an official transcript from all previous schools attended, and they may need a letter of good standing from the director of their previous nursing school.

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