Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to pay for it?

The hard reality is that going to graduate school requires money.  Since moving back to the south, I have a volunteer nursing position that I work, but it's heavy on the volunteer.  I love my job, but I won't be making a dime off of it in the near or distant future, even though I would like to continue working it throughout the next four years of graduate studies.

There is always the stand by of student loans.  Certainly if I secure nothing else, then I will use student loans, especially for this first year.  However, I would very much like to avoid more student loan debt.  Given how late in the academic year even my first graduate program made an admission decision (not based upon anything I did, nursing programs appear to run behind other programs for the most part), non student loan financial options are rapidly evaporating.

From the beginning, my intention was to apply for federal scholarship programs for healthcare workers.  There is one for providers that will pay for medical school or nursing practice school.  Then, there is a second one that will pay for nursing studies.  Both of them have a service commitment requirement that says I would have to work in underserviced patient populations for as many years as the scholarships covered. 

The problem is that the admission letter came so late that one of the two scholarships closed while I was putting the application together.  Neither of the programs would let me even start the application process until I had an actual admission in hand.  So, I lost out on the better scholarship.  The second scholarship is need based, which after my income, a severance package and a relocation package all in last tax year, my financial need appears very low, especially if you don't account for the large family (and their crazy, rapidly expanding medical bills again).

I have two days left for the second federal scholarship, the need based priority one, and one of my letters of recommendation is not sending an email link to the professor who keeps trying to help me set it up.  I am very afraid that I am going to miss the deadline on this second scholarship on this problem. 

Today, I scrambled.  I applied for the nursing scholarships at my university, even though the Financial Aid office cannot tell me if they have already been decided though they have not yet been awarded.  I researched other options and found a state nursing scholarship I have to apply for directly from the Board of Nursing.

I also found the graduate school information on assistantships.  There are teaching assistantships for the nursing department.  I truly do not know if they are reserved for the DNP program versus the MSN program, but I am applying for them just the same.

I thought I was through all of the rush and stress once I got my applications in.  We had yet another child crisis hit us and I missed 10 days on hitting the ground running on financial aid options.  Those 10 days may have eliminated the bulk of all of the non loan options available. 

The best option would be a teaching assistantship.  The deadline for those is July 1st.  They don't require recommendations from anyone else, nor are they need based.  They are academic based, which would be fantastic if I hadn't scored such a marginal GRE score when I was sick.  Even so, I think my academic record is strong enough that I should stand at least a shot at these options.  I will apply for those in addition to everything else before Thursday and then I wait and see whether I will be scraping by and racking up more debt or whether I will be able to breath this upcoming year.  Student loans will cover tuition.  It will not cover my costs that I will have to drive to clinicals two days per week and once a week to a health assessment class this fall.

It just seems to be more of the we never, ever get ahead struggle we've had all these years.  I keep reminding myself to stay focused.  In four years, I will be a nurse practitioner and half of these children will be grown.  We WILL get ahead then simply because we will be bleeding out money less and bringing in money more.  It would be fantastic if I could get either a PRN job or something other than student loans to cover graduate school for the next year.  The federal scholarships I can apply for again next spring, just not before then.

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