Can I Get an Online RN to BSN for Free?



As we have reached the deadline set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to make a bachelor’s degree the standard for RNs (which was originally set for 2020), hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been strongly urging their ADN nurses to increase their credentials. For the nurses in question, the expense of going back to school can be intimidating. So where can nurses get a free BSN? 

One way to earn a free nursing degree is to join a branch of the military that offers nursing education in exchange for a commitment to serve for a set time period. The Navy, Army and Air Force all have their own programs for active service members who want to become nurses. You should talk to a recruiter for the most up-to-date information. However, here are a few of the available programs.

Who Offers Free Nursing Degrees?

Air Force Nurse Enlisted Commission Program

The Air Force has a program to allow airmen and airwomen to complete a BSN while becoming a commissioned officer. It’s called the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program.

Army Health Professions Scholarship Program

In the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), active-duty soldiers choose from 150 career paths — including nursing — while receiving a salary, 30 days paid vacation, free healthcare and numerous other benefits.

Naval Nursing Careers

Active naval personnel can obtain free nursing degrees through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship. The Navy pays the cost of your education up to $180,000 and you choose from some of the best U.S. colleges and universities. While you are a student, you concentrate on your education free of military obligations. Your service begins after you complete your program. 

If you are already a nursing student, you can receive a grant of $10,000 plus a monthly stipend of $1,000 per month for 24 months. 

Can I Get Free Online Nursing Courses with Certificate?

Yes, there are many free online nursing courses with certificate for those interested in learning more about nursing. If you are already a nurse, there are also free courses to fulfill your continuing education units (CEUs). You may need to renew some CEUs, such as CPR, First Aid and BLS, every two years. This can become expensive if you don’t take advantage of free options. 

Nurses often have to find their own resources to meet their state’s continuing education units. Here are just a few examples of free options that may satisfy your CEU requirements.

Free Online Nursing Courses with Certificate

Medline University is a MOOC with hundreds of CEU healthcare courses available. Choose from a wide spectrum of courses from COVID-19 safety to assisted living versus surgical center care.

Medline University courses include:

  • American Medical Certification Association (AMCA)
  • International Association of Health Care Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM)
  • National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards
  • Non-CEU courses for those interested in health care.

Canvas Offers Numerous Free Courses

Canvas offers free courses for nurses and health care professionals. The extensive course selection includes everything from nutrition to nursing, including a BBP certificate. Additional courses include best practice, psychology and other topics. Some classes are available in several languages.

Where Are the Cheapest Online RN to BSN Programs?   

Some employers push for non-BSN nurses to their degrees quickly. The easiest and cheapest online RN to BSN programs are typically those offered by smaller regional universities, religious colleges, and other institutions oriented toward adult education. 

Even though there are few completely free programs, there are many ways nursing students can get their degrees without any cost to themselves: 

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Employer reimbursement

Scholarships and grants are two of the best ways to save money when trying to earn an online BSN degree. While most scholarships are for students just entering college, there are many that are available for advanced students who are working on the BSN or MSN degree program. Grants are also a great way to defray the cost of your education. Most grants are multi-year gifts which means that you will receive the grant for every year you are in college. (Two- to four-year programs) In order to earn scholarships and grants, students must maintain a GPA that is specified by the organization offering the scholarship.

Another way to defray the cost of earning an online BSN degree program is to discuss possible payment options with your employer. Many employers will offer to reimburse you for your educational expenses if you pass each class with a specific GPA. You must pay for the courses first, but once you graduate and earn your degree, your employer will reimburse you for all or at least part of your expenses. Many companies require that you agree to remain with them for a certain amount of time if you accept their offer of reimbursement.

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