How Much Does Becoming a Registered Nurse Cost?

Costs main cover image
$ $ ADN Degree (2-3 Years): $6,000-$100,000+ $ $ $ BSN Degree(4 Years): $40,000-$200,000+

The role of the registered nurses is to provide and coordinate patient care, to provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members, as well as to educate patients and the public about health conditions.

An RN should complete the required educational programs, which include an associate of nursing degree (for 2-3 years), a bachelor of science in nursing degree (for four years) or a diploma from an approved nursing program (for 2-3 years) in a hospital setting.

Then the registered nurses have to pass the national NCLEX-RN exam and satisfy state licensing requirements.

Typical Costs

Tuition, fees, books and supplies for getting an associate degree in nursing can cost $6,000-$40,000 or more at a public college and $30,000-$100,000 or more at a private school, based on location, program length, school status, and state residency status for public schools; and the living, transportation and personal expenses will vary.

The tuition, fees, books and supplies for a traditional four-year bachelor of science in nursing usually cost $40,000-$200,000 based on school – public or private and its reputation.

The tuition, fees, books and supplies for an accelerated BSN program which is designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject cost $17,000-$90,000.

The oldest and most traditional form of nursing education in the United States is the diploma programs, still offered by a few hospitals.

Their fees and tuition, books and supplies for a nursing diploma at the RN level can cost $18,000-$40,000 or more, based on the hospital providing the program, the duration of the program and the location.

At Lutheran School of Nursing at St. Alexius Hospital in St. Louis, MO, for example, the fees and tuition are estimated at $20,484 for a full-time student in the 28-month diploma program; while at St. Margaret School of Nursing at UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA, the fees and tuition, books and supplies for the six-semester diploma program are estimated at $35,035.

Like the ADN programs, RN-level diploma programs take about 2-3 years; however, graduates receive a diploma instead of a college degree.

Further, the course credits earned do not necessarily translate to non-nursing fields of study.

The diploma program graduates eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam and get a state license as a registered nurse.

Additional Costs

The required NCLEX-RN license exam costs approx. $200, (practice test here) however the state license fees can add another $75-$200 or more, based on the state.

Many schools include these costs in their estimated fees for completing the program.


  • There are a good choice of nursing scholarship, grant and loan programs.
  • The participants need to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid before receiving scholarships or financial aid.
  • Information is to be found online for federal student aid grants that should not be repaid and federal work-study programs, designed for students with financial need.
  • The American Association of Colleges of Nursing provides a list of potential financial aid resources.
  • The National Student Nurses Association comes with grants and scholarships.
  • The Department of Health Resources and Human Services Administration’s Nurse Corps scholarship program further offers payment of tuition, fees, related costs and a monthly stipend, in exchange for two years work commitment at an eligible Critical Shortage Facility after graduation.

Shopping For Becoming A Registered Nurse

  • provides a search for ADN, BSN or diploma programs.
  • The state board of nursing offers a list of schools in each state.
  • Always enquire about the school’s accreditation, the clinical practice sites, the total number of clinical hours that students attend, as well as the NCLEX-RN pass rate and the percentage of students placed in jobs or continuing their nursing education.
  • The Kansas Association of Nurse Leaders provides questions to ask a potential nursing program.

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