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Financing graduate nursing education at MSU: let me count the ways!

When asked why they haven't pursued graduate nursing education, many qualified students indicate that they don't believe they can afford to go back to school. However, it may be easier to finance graduate nursing education than one might think. There are many opportunities to consider as one contemplates earning a master's degree in nursing at Montana State University (MSU).

It is well-known that there is a nursing shortage in this country. There is also a shortage of qualified nursing faculty. The federal government has provided some funds to address both of these issues. If baccalaureate prepared nurses are interested in pursuing a master's degree in order to teach in a nursing program, there are federal funds available to help those students. Schools that offer the master's degree in nursing apply for these dollars which may then be loaned to their students who are enrolled in their programs that prepare nurses for teaching roles.

MSU has applied for and received Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) funding for several years. Students enrolled in any of the master's options in the College of Nursing who also enroll in 3 elective teaching courses are eligible to apply for those loan dollars. If, after graduation, those individuals teach in any nursing program in the country for at least 3 years, up to 85% of the loan can be forgiven.

Another federally funded program that is available to graduate nursing students is the National Health Service Corp (NHSC). Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) students with a desire to work with underserved populations can apply for scholarships and loan repayment through the NHSC. This scholarship program covers the costs of tuition, educational expenses, and a monthly stipend in exchange for providing primary care to an underserved community full-time for 1 year for each full or partial year of scholarship support, with a 2-year minimum commitment. The NHSC Loan Repayment Program (LRP) will pay up to $50,000 for two years of service, based on the participant's outstanding balance of qualifying educational loans. If the total amount of the participant's qualifying educational loans is less than $50,000, the NHSC LRP will pay the remaining balance of the total qualifying educational loans for two years of service. Additional information can be found at the NHSC website http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/.

MSU also has graduate teaching assistant (GTA) positions for eligible graduate students who are interested in teaching and want to obtain practical experience while completing their graduate program. These positions provide tuition waivers as well as a monthly paycheck for 10 hours of work per week during the academic year.

In addition, the College of Nursing at MSU applies each year for federal nurse traineeship funding which is divided among all of the eligible full-time graduate nursing students. These Advanced Nursing Education Traineeships (AENT) funds are distributed as grants that do not require re-payment. Eligible students must be interested in working in medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas following graduation. Many locations in Montana are designated as underserved and shortage areas.

Montana State University provides Presidential Scholarships each year to entering graduate students; typically, one of these is offered to an entering graduate nursing student. The College of Nursing is now able to offer a similar scholarship to an entering graduate nursing student each year. Once enrolled, graduate nursing students are also eligible to apply or be nominated for other scholarships including the Jurkovich-Wilson, Margaret Voynovich, and Gladys Nye Stevenson graduate scholarships. Through the generosity of the Hudson family, additional scholarships are available to graduate nursing students who apply for financial assistance when completing their research for the thesis or professional project requirement. A Hudson Trust scholarship is also given to recognize the most outstanding graduate student each year during the college's Recognition Ceremony at the completion of the program. Finally, Hudson Trust scholarships are available to assist with the expenses of graduate nursing students who are presenting their research at a regional or national conference.

Additional funding for graduate school is available from a variety of sources. One may review the many opportunities available by referring to the College of Nursing website at: http://www.montana.edu/nursing/ student/scholarships.htm and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page for more information about graduate scholarships. Should you have questions or need additional information about the MSU graduate nursing program options or how to fund your education, please contact Lynn Taylor at: lynnt@montana.edu or (406) 994-3500.

Gretchen McNeely, DNSc, RN, Associate Dean and Associate Professor MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing
COPYRIGHT 2006 Montana Nurses Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Montana State University
Author:McNeely, Gretchen
Publication:The Pulse
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:758
Previous Article:MNA Award Winners.
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