Duquesne University vs. Penn State Altoona for Nursing

Hello everyone, this post is for my sister.
My sister was accepted into James Madison, Duquesne University, Penn State Altoona, and Quinnipiac University for Nursing. She did apply to Penn State Main Campus and University of Pittsburgh Main Campus, but they denied her and transferred her application to the satellite campuses. Her choice is between Penn State Altoona and Duquesne University. Penn State Altoona gave her a small scholarship, the Provost Scholarship for $4,000 a year. That would cost her to go to PSU Altoona for $21,288. My parents are trying to figure out that if they cover her room & board, she would only have to pay $9868 a year with the scholarship, then she would only be $39,472 in debt. Duquesne University is a lot more expensive, but I believe their nursing program is slightly better. If my parents cover room & board, it would cost my sister $13,778 a year to attend, which is $55,112 for all 4 years. My sister wants to go to Duquesne because it’s farther away from home. She has never seen PSU Altoona. My parents want her to go to Altoona in a way because of the cost. Keep in mind that she has to get her master’s eventually. Also, she does not want to go to PSU Altoona because I got into Penn State Main Campus and she didn’t. In her mind, she’s thinking, “why should I go to a ‘stupid’ satellite campus if my twin sister is going to the main campus?” Is it worth going to PSU Altoona over Duquesne because of the cost? Is there a difference between both schools’ nursing programs?


Note that she herself cannot borrow more than $5500 freshman year, and it only goes up a little bit after that. Your parents would be the ones on the hook for the extra loans.

Have her attend the lowest cost school that she can get through. Another possibility is going through CC for ADN and then going forward to BSN.

Each state has their nursing programs identified on the web site for their board of nursing.

Many flagship/large state schools admit for freshman/sophomore, and then nursing class size dictates how many can advance. So many are very competitive by GPA.

Some CC programs are one year LPN (or licensed vocational nurse depending on the state) and the second year is assoc RN degree.

Another possibility is gaining certified nursing assistant to be able to work while attending school, or potentially going through some school and working some to reduce the amount of school loans taken. Some hospitals will accept nursing students into a ‘tech’ program so they can work some while going to school at the local nursing school.

The working experience is helpful in the field (some actually find that they want to go forward in another academic field).

Going on to advanced nursing degree (beyond BSN) is less risky with the school loans.

Another possibility is to consider a nursing program via the ROTC route. If accepted for summer field training after sophomore year, the military will pay for final two years and student will receive a monthly stipend. One can join ROTC freshman year and possibly be accepted in for scholarship sophomore year.

Seems to me that a visit to Penn State Altoona is the first order of business.

@SOSConcern My sister would never go to a nursing school with a ROTC Scholarship. She has flat feet, isn’t that looked down upon? Also, I don’t think she can handle it anyways. Also, community college is helpful, but she wants the 4-year experience and get that BSN.

@robinleckey I understand her desires - but it won’t help if she gets one or two years into a BSN program and cannot proceed due to financial or nursing student openings for clinicals junior/senior years.

If she never would consider ROTC, that is fine - she just can look to other avenues.

On the ‘flat feet’ I would suggest she go to a drug store that has a Dr Scholls free machine and run the ‘evaluation’. I got inserts for my New Balance white shoes that I wear for my 8 hour nursing shifts (on my feet and walking tile floor halls) and I do fine. In nursing, at least for many jobs, one has to be on one’s feet and walking on tile floors. Maybe she has a job now and is on her feet a lot w/o issues - IDK.

I know a nurse practitioner in our state whose family could not help her at all financially for school except with room/board living at home. So she lived at home and went to CC for ADN. Then she worked as a nurse and got through BSN and NP program at a major city in our state. Very smart gal. The loans she had to take for her final years of schooling were able to get paid off with her higher pay as NP and not ‘living larger’.

Is the home state Penn? If so, here is the link for the PA Nursing Board Approved Nursing Education Programs:


17/18/19 year olds have mixed priorities. Sure they want a fun 4 years at college. However if they cannot obtain the degree they are looking for (if they can find a way to have the school paid for during 4 years), do they decide to change majors and finish at that school? (my DD2’s flagship school, that is what happens - if they want to complete nursing, they may transfer to a different BSN program in the state). I ran into a family in our town that the DD went two years to our flagship for nursing, didn’t make the clinical cut, but was able to transfer to finish final two years at the larger nursing school in our state. I know others that change majors to education, nutrition, or something else - they love their school and change their career goals.

DD1 did BSN program at the largest nursing program in the state, and they had a ‘nurse scholars’ program for incoming freshmen - so DD was able to complete the program in 4 years w/o any worries about completing clinicals as long as she met the minimum academic requirements (which she did, and she graduated with honors as well) - and she was in a special VA nurse training program, so she could hire in to the VA Hospital with that training (VA normally only hires experienced RNs, but her program met their requirements). DD1 is marrying a military guy, so she can transfer to other VA positions to follow her H (wedding is in July).

Many students will say they desire a certain major/career, but many do change majors during their first two years of college.

Since she can only borrow $5,500 in federal Direct loans, she’d have to first explore how she could afford either PSU-Altoona OR Duquesne.

Where do you guys live? Altoona is only 2 hours from Pittsburgh. Duquesne may be a little farther but it’s really not that much farther. And your sister may have the opportunity to transfer to PSU’s main campus for her last two years.

^Transferring to PSU main campus isn’t a possibility for nursing majors.

@juillet Bucks County, PA. Since she is a nursing student, she can’t do the 2 + 2 program

Are you going to PSU Main Campus? Will that cost more than Duquesne (it looks like your sister got merit and/or FA there)? How much are your parents willing/able to pay for each of you for 4 years? As noted above, you and your sister will face annual borrowing limits that are lower than what it appears you each will need.

In another thread you said your parents are “lower middle class.” How much can they pay for each of you without borrowing? Do they realize you can each borrow only ~$5500year on your own?

“Duquesne may be a little bit farther, but it’s really not that much farther.” I have to challenge that statement!

Living in the region, and passing through Altoona fairly frequently, I will say with confidence that Pittsburgh, a vibrant city full of students, restaurants of all stripes, museums and cultural events, is light-years away from Altoona. State College is near Altoona, but is an island/mecca/ world unto itself…and I can see how it could be hard for the sister in Altoona, a friendly but small, down-at-the-heels, conservative town, where the most exciting eatery may well be the Olive Garden. I would imagine that the campus is largely a commuter campus as well. That’s a different situation from the typical LAC in an isolated town where students largely ignore the town.

If Penn-State Altoona is truly the only affordable option, it is what it is. It will lead to the main goal of a nursing degree, and saddling the family with debt may not be supportable. But to somehow equate the two experiences is just not accurate. The miles don’t make such a difference, but the environment certainly does. I hope your sister would come to love her life in Altoona (and very well may) but don’t be surprised if she tearfully tries to bunk-up with you in your dorm-room in State College every weekend!

Well, Altoona students typically do go to state college every weekend so young see your twin every weekend and yes you’d be host.

However I’m concerned about cost - can your parents afford either one? What’s their budget? Your sister can only take 5.5k in loans and so can you. Everything else would be on your parents.

@austinmshauri Yes, I did say that. I don’t know how much they can pay for us without us borrowing. My mom just says she’s going with the cheapest option. But, my older brother and his wife talked with my mom last night, saying why Duquesne is better option (better experience, worth cost, city life, etc.)

Duquesne IS better, but if you can’t afford it it won’t do any good. Will your older brother help with the difference?
I’m worried your parents can’t afford it.

Where did she end up going for nursing?