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Does it make sense to spend a lot of money on a nursing degree?

Max3721Max3721 17 replies9 threads Junior Member
I have had this question for a long time. I'd like to hear your opinion. Say, if you have been accepted to two schools, one is a top-ranked university with the tuition >$40K and the other is a low-ranked state university with the tuition < $10k. Assume you can afford both, which one would you choose? Does it worth the money to earn a nursing degree from a top-ranked school? Thank you for your input!
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Replies to: Does it make sense to spend a lot of money on a nursing degree?

  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    First, separate out the quality of the nursing programs and the clinicals vs. the overall "reputation" of the universities. Some lesser known colleges have great nursing programs.

    If the two nursing programs are equal, then there is little reason to spend twice the money to get better history classes.

    At a more expensive university, you typically will get more individual attention, with smaller classes and typically more essays vs. multiple-choices and more critique of your writing and your thinking.

    To make an informed decision, calculate the total difference between the two schools, including all fees, housing, travel costs, etc. over 4 years. Then you can ask yourself "Is a BSN degree from X university worth $Y more than a BSN degree from Z university?"

    Don't forget that tuition and fees will increase over 4 years, so the price difference will likely be greater than it currently appears. Also, keep in mind that at most colleges, you will need a reliable car to get to clinicals, as well as many expenses for nursing equipment, clothes, medical tests, etc.

    If you can graduate with a standard amount of about $21K of federal stafford loans total over 4 years, you have done well. If the more expensive college will require other loans with more expensive interest rates, that can make a big difference.

    Also, there are some (but not all) private universities that will offer some additional aid if they know you are about to choose a university that is less expensive, if they really want you as a student.


    edited January 2018
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  • Banker1Banker1 781 replies15 threads Member
    Great and good points so far. We're tackling this very issue right now as we narrow our list of acceptances. One other point we are considering is if student is planning to attend graduate school such as for Nurse Practioner then undergraduate degree is even less important. In comparing undergraduate programs we keep asking if the starting salary would be the same between the two and if a degree in either program would be equally useful in securing a job in your desired geographic area. So far for us the signs are pointing to the higher cost of attendance institution being the lesser value.
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  • user4321user4321 155 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Graduating from a top ranked school may help one get into a competitive specialization after graduation. It may help one advance in administration at a more prestigious (and higher paying) employer. It may help one get a better government job. If something like this is in your plans, the value of the higher rated school becomes more apparent.
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    I'm not an expert, but I would assume that most hiring managers at hospitals like to first hire staff that already are known to the staff, such as people who worked part-time at the facility or did clinicals there, and who impressed the staff. The next group to be hired would be students from college programs that the employer knows have provided well-prepared graduates to them in the past.

    After a couple years of experience, your on-the-job performance will matter much much more than the name on your degree.

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  • Max3721Max3721 17 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for all your inputs. If you want to be NP or DNP, does the name on your diploma help you get into the graduate program?
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    Most people need substantial experience as a RN before they are accepted to a Nurse Practitioner program. One program said their average enrolled student has 10 years experience before they are admitted. In that case, your work experience and any certifications or grad school classes you have completed in the interim would probably matter more than the name on your bachelors diploma.

    edited January 2018
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  • shebaseweedshebaseweed 29 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited January 2018
    @user4321 But is this really the case?
    edited January 2018
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    Thanks NJMom. Many nurse practitioner programs say on their websites that they only require one or two years of work experience. However, considering the competitiveness of the programs and the nature of the work, and the need to save up money to pay for the program, I would expect that successful applicants have many more years of experience.
    edited January 2018
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  • Max3721Max3721 17 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Thanks to NJMOM3 and Charliesch for your insightful comments. Suppose the high-ranked schools have "better" teachers and students, the NCLEX pass rate should be higher. However, what I have noticed is that these schools typically have a lower pass rate (<90%) than those low-ranked school (>90%). For example: UCLA ~75% vs. San Diego State ~93%. Why is that? Should we get better education with higher price?
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2018
    Max: 1. Sometimes the more prestigious colleges have overly confident students who don't do enough test prep.
    2. Sometimes the less prestigious colleges have a higher number of older students who have years of experience working in health care. That is why many community colleges have high pass rates.


    The more prestigious colleges will typically have more prestigious professors teaching their liberal arts classes, but what matters is the quality of the science and nursing profs. Also, the more prestigious universities may place too much emphasis on research and grad students vs. undergrad teaching.

    My son went to a prestigious university where he had some mediocre science professors in very large freshman classes (500 to 600 students in a lecture hall). My daughter went to a college that is not well known where all of her classes (even freshman classes) had less than 40 students.
    edited January 2018
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    I can remember a nursing student at U. Penn complaining because she was doing clinicals right alongside of Community College of Phila. students, even though she was paying 20 times as much tuition.

    (at the same time, many of the universities with expensive sticker price tuition do provide large amounts of need-based aid, so for some families they are equal or less expensive than some public universities)
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  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3184 replies43 threads Senior Member
    Sometimes, the more prestigious (and expensive!) schools try to sell you on the better clinical experience. Well, 1. What @Charliesch said above, and 2. Nursing students are learning the basics, and learning to put the IV can be done at a regional hospital as well as the major medical center. As said above, it's really all about that first time NCLEX pass rate. I'd also disagree that a name brand school gets you a more access to certain specialties. Your preceptorship, which should be a part of any BSN program, gets you the experience you need for that.

    Unless there's something about the low cost college itself, like it has mandatory religious service attendance and you're an atheist, it's probably not worth the extra $ to pay for the big name shcool, at least for the vast majority of students.
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  • chb088chb088 970 replies32 threads Senior Member
    This is very helpful! My S18 considering various college choices now. He hopes to do BSN, work 1-2 years in ICU, then go for CRNA.
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  • MomtofourkidsMomtofourkids 311 replies25 threads Member
    Timely thread -we are looking at several different nursing schools for our son which with merit would range anywhere from approx $30k-$52 a year. Still have not heard from some or was deferred, like BC but with a sticker price of $68K why would one go there over another place that would be half that price? Several of my son's schools, as Saint Anselm for example have had 98%-100% pass rate for NCLEX. Compare that to a lower pass rate at a school like UVM anywhere in the high 80s-low 90s (based on their website). We are looking at schools with higher pass rates, opportunities for research on the side, number of clinical hours and where they possibly could be (for example is it better to have a clinical experience in a nursing home or a renowned hospital like Children's in Boston?). My son as well wants to go on for his DNP (kids these days can't do the regular NP - they are requiring students after 2020 - i believe - to get the DNP, not NP anymore as they are now doing with PT students) and from what we have seen just a year or two of real world experience is often enough to get into those programs. It seems to help if clinical or work hours were spent in ER or ICU especially.
    Also keep in mind summer vacations - if you go to a school for nursing far from where you live you may have a more difficult time finding internships/work over summers like between your Junior/Senior year as hospitals will not be as familiar with programs at colleges further away and will go with known programs. This is from family experience with students who have gone to good schools like Case Western and the like finding it harder to get those internships even in Philly / Boston metro areas that should be familiar with good schools.
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  • am9799am9799 938 replies27 threads Member
    Regarding the NCLEX. Some schools don't let you try unless they think you pass. For example Umass Lowell was in the news about it last spring. So the fact that Umass Lowell gets a highter NCLEX rate than Umass Amherst does not really tell me the whole story. And speaking of UMass why exactly anyone would want to go to Amherst and not Umass Boston which has better access to hospitals and it is half the price (as they give good merit)? Lots of questions I do not have answers...
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  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3184 replies43 threads Senior Member
    True, it's probably not a bad thing to be suspicious of super-high pass rates. Ask the department (not admissions as they likely don't know) if there's an exit test to pass or a cut score on certain NCLEX indicator test to be reached before the student is allowed to graduate and sit for the NCLEX (and what remediation is offered if the criteria aren't met).
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  • CharlieschCharliesch 2046 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Yes, many colleges require test prep and exit exams before they will let you take the RN exam. Some colleges are much more strict in their policies than others. Some will make a student take additional coursework and test prep if they do not do well enough on the exit exam.
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  • CollegeMom98CollegeMom98 9 replies0 threads New Member
    @Momtofourkids. My daughter was accepted into the BSN program at Saint Anselm as well. Just curious...How do you feel about the grade deflation policy? I had no idea it existed until my nephew's wife, who graduated with a BSN from Saint A's a few years ago, told me about it. Not sure if it will be a deal breaker for us.
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  • MomtofourkidsMomtofourkids 311 replies25 threads Member
    @CollegeMom98 - we are going to the accepted students day in Feb at Saint A's so we plan on asking as many people as possible about their rep as Saint C's! We actually have two friends with kids currently in the nursing program - one a freshman and one a junior and will reach out to them as well. I actually had a post with that question a year or so ago! I will post if I hear anything either way back here. Would make a difference to us as well - my son was invited to be in the Honors college there so would that mean it would be even more difficult to get an A/B? Ugh
    Also - @am9799 we plan on speaking with UMass Amherst regarding their clinical hours etc. We met a professor at Umass Boston in Nursing who mentioned she has heard of difficulty getting the hours there (?) - it did not mean a lot to me when she said it as we were still new to the idea of a Nursing major/clinicals etc but makes sense as UMass A only takes 64 kids at such a big school - perhaps not enough places for clinicals to be done at? Where UMass Lowell would have many more places being nearer to Boston and more populated area they are more access to clinicals. I don't know, just surmising.
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