It’s a common question asked by many aspiring nurses, or those who wish to add a more advanced degree to their resume: Will my hospital pay for my nursing degree? The answer is decidedly “maybe,” since virtually every hospital has a different policy on tuition reimbursement programs. Though the programs vary between hospitals, professionals who are considering adding to their educational attainment can count on some generally uniform policies governing bachelor’s degrees, graduate degrees, and medical degrees, as they seek to reduce their total educational costs through employer sponsorship.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing: Tuition Reimbursement is Common
The unique thing about the nursing profession is that it allows nurses to obtain their nursing certification with only a two-year nursing degree. Even so, many hospitals prefer to hire candidates who have achieved, or those who promise to obtain one within a certain period of time after being hired, a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). Bachelor’s degrees in nursing don’t come cheap, however, and many employers know that their tuition assistance can help them attract or create a more qualified workforce over the long-term.
For this reason, bachelor’s degrees are almost always paid for, at least partially, by a tuition reimbursement program through a major hospital. In fact, several hospitals will even offer or sponsor on-site classes that count toward a degree. This helps the facility ensure the quality and rigor of the degree being awarded, allowing for mutual benefits in the process.
Master’s Degrees in Nursing: Consider This a Case-by-Case Situation
With a BSN in hand, many nurses are content to leave school behind and simply enjoy the benefits of having the full undergraduate degree. Some nurses, however are attracted to further learning experiences and the ability to advance into new roles available to those with a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). The first thing most prospective MSN candidates do is check into their employer’s tuition reimbursement policy. What they’re most likely to find is a bit more red tape and a few less reimbursement benefits than they might have enjoyed for their BSN program.
In many hospitals, tuition reimbursement for a graduate degree is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. In other hospitals, the total amount of money budgeted for graduate degree reimbursement is divided by the number of people who have applied for those funds. In either case, this means that nurses are likely to get less money from their employer to help cover the somewhat higher costs of a graduate education. More generous loan programs do exist for graduate students, however, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that nurses with an MSN will earn back their tuition expenses over time thanks to moderately higher, long-term wages.
Doctoral and Medical Programs: Most Hospitals Lack Reimbursement Offers
For doctoral degrees or medical programs, most hospitals simply withhold reimbursement funds. The good news is that federal aid programs have been adjusted to help cover the significant cost of these undertakings, with loans and grants that can reduce tuition expenses even without help from an employer.
Despite a lack of reimbursement at the medical or doctoral level, most hospitals are exceedingly generous when it comes to offsetting the cost of a higher education. That’s because a higher education simply reduces the hospital’s long-term risks and costs, and helps it to maintain an engaged, professional team of nurses who ensure great patient outcomes. In the vast majority of cases, this means there’s a positive answer to a the key question, “will a hospital pay for my nursing degree?”