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BSN Benefits for Nurses

Achieving your BSN at No Cost

Published June 14, 2016 10:29 AM by Beth Hogan
Research ranks money, as one of the biggest barriers as why ADN and diploma nurses are saying they are not completing their BSN.  It is possible to complete your degree and do it with no money out of pocket.

Does your facility offer a tuition reimbursement program?  If you are unsure, call your human resource department or speak to your department manager.  Review the policy, qualifications, and frequency of eligibility.  Our facility offers $2,500 a calendar year toward a BSN.  Spreading classes out over a few calendar years make it possible to acquire $10,000 in less than 30 months toward your degree.  For example, starting in the fall of 2016, can mean $2500 in 2016, 2017, 2018 and the spring of 2019 will mean $10,000 in tuition reimbursement in less than 30 months. 

Does your facility have partnerships with any BSN programs?  If you are unsure, ask.  If your facility does not currently have any, ask your nursing administration to consider signing agreements.  This can mean a percentage off your tuition costs or delayed payment until after class if tuition reimbursement eligible depending on the agreement.  Our facility has several partnerships averaging 10% discount off tuition. 

Tax benefits are available for undergraduate degrees.  Potential for $1000 tax return for four years can be found at  https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC    Tax credit but will not provide refund at https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/LLC  and 529 savings  programs are also available for a tax advantage. 

Research scholarships your facility or BSN program may offer.  The time investment is certainly worth the reward.

Ebooks are used for some programs and in some cases are included as part of the tuition costs.  For those programs where you need to purchase books, consider used or renting.  In some cases renting may be cheaper, in the next class you may find a used book for almost no cost.  Shop around for the best value.  Some of the more popular sites include amazon.com, halfebay.com, chegg.com, or bookrenter.com. 

Challenging classes or taking a CLEP or DSST for credit is another economical option.  For an elective, an advisor recommended a "Here's to your Health" test for any nurse looking for an elective.  It was a three-credit exam, cost $100, and I was able to complete it in under an hour. 

Finally, the financial reward should be a consideration.  A recent classmate exclaimed, "Our facility only gives us $1.00 and hour more for a BSN".  Only?  If you were to receive a $1.00 more an hour for achieving your BSN, that is $2,000 a year for a full time employee.  Over ten years, that is $20,000.   In most cases, this would more than pay for your education while at the same time increasing your marketability and earning potential.  When you consider the big picture, can you afford not to achieve your BSN?

Respectfully submitted,

Beth Hogan MSN, RN, CNOR, CRN

 

9 comments

In reviewing the advantages of achieving a BSN, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the challenges.

September 13, 2016 11:08 AM

Lets face it, getting going back to school to achieve the BSN isn't easy.  Besides that, financial aid to older nurses is not easily available.  Most employers reimburse R.N.'s a portion of total cost for obtaining the BSN.  

On top of that, many Hospitals in California still bringing RN's from countries like China, India, Philippines, Korea, Indonessia, and Latin America as part of "Nursing Shortage" the California Hospital Association is been yelling out-SUPPLY & DEMAND.

In California there is a fierce competition for Low pay R.N. jobs.  

Currently in California there are many RN, BSN & RN, MSN new graduaduates without employment, and those new graduate nurses had been out of Nursing School for over a year.

So, where is this "higher education" philosophy is going to take us to?  Yeah, to resemble the socialist societies of Latin American and other countries around the world.

I'm not against Higher Education, but to restrict importation of foreign nurses under the philosophy of "Nursing Shortage" that many hospitals take avantage of to make a chane in the SUPPLY & DEMAND from Low Pay foreing nurses.

Julio, R.N. July 21, 2016 3:30 PM
Los Angeles CA

Hello Sharifa,

Not sure how old these "older" nurses are but I never returned to school until after age 50.  I am not saying there is not any advantage to years experience and CEUS but hospitals across the country are taking the IOM recommendation seriously and are working toward meeting the 80% ratio.  New York state is very close to passing the BSN in 10 legislation and you can be assured other states will not be far behind.  The law will say if you achieve a ADN you will have ten years to complete a BSN or lose your license.  Those without it and are currently licensed will be grandfathered in, but will certainly not be in the best position for other opportunities.  Nurses can choose to dig their heals in and not return to school or they can be proactive and simple consider some of the suggestions.  I get it, I was there.   None of the schools I have developed affiliations with have long waiting lists or require a large deposit.  They expect one class at a time payment and in addition to offering partnership discounts some will delay payment until after tuition reimbursement is paid.  To achieve this, someone simply has to ask.  As far as time away from work, online meant I did it around my schedule.  

As far as available scholarships, I had suggested that people check with their facilities.  Our nursing department related that for the three scholarships offered during nurses week this year that one week prior that they had only one application.  Again, one has to ask.

Respectfully,

Beth

Beth Hogan June 30, 2016 9:31 PM

Beth, I read your impassioned reasoning concerning getting a higher degree and the benefits (to the hospital) by re-stating the fallacy of higher degree status= less medical errors. It is continuing education, meaning the CEUs not necessarily advanced degree, that provides the practicing nurses with the knowledge to advert errors. As the older RN expressed the difficulty in finding a permanent job without a BSN was difficult. As a travel RN in California, I have seen and experienced the abject desperation that RNs have gone through in both trying to get a job and also keep a job. As many RNs from the East coast, with BSNs, found themselves out of their management level jobs because getting a MSN would put them too far into debt to care for family. Pay increases for the additional degree is not a common thing and reimbursement does not pay for the time a nurse has to sacrifice away from the job. It does not compensate for the work/home imbalance it creates. As many nurses in Florida will attest to signing a provision that tells them they must have a BSN degree within 3 years of being hired and then scrambling to find a school that doesn't have a waiting list for their RN to BSN programs. I believe that the hardest part of being forced back to school for a higher degree, a BSN if you want to work in most places, is that the years of experience and accomplishments are even acknowledged. It is as if the hospitals and HR personnel don't see the professional applying to them only the degree with thoughts of how it will fare in the bill payment. This is how I have met many RNs like the older RN from above, taking a temporary position because that is all that is available to them. Then once the first one was done, deciding they are not getting back into debt by returning to school. Understand that most schools either want the guarantee of student loan money or a large deposit to ensure payment. Most reimbursements are not given within the time frame for those returning to school to pay cash and/or avoid borrowing from student loans.

Please respect that the position you are in is not available to most. Creating a list of potential scholarships for those returning may be more helpful to many that were interested in this topc.

Sharifa, Tele, PCU - RN June 29, 2016 1:27 AM
TravelRN CA

Michelle,

Part of it is timing, I found if I started in the fall, and in 18 months I was able to get three years worth of reimbursement.  It was also a tax deduction so I found I got $800/year there.  Does your facility or program say you have to complete it in 18 months?  Just because you can doesn't mean you have to.  I took 2-3 classes a year so I could increase my reimbursement.  

Your current role may not offer you more for your MSN, but having it will open up opportunities.  The ink wasn't dry on mine and found it to be a great time investment.  

Karen,

I am not disputing the benefit of experience but I do strongly believe from personal experience and in the research that having a higher BSN ratio is a benefit for medication safety as well as mortality rates.  

Beth Hogan, , Clinical Director of Nursing Northern GI Endoscopy Center June 25, 2016 10:15 PM
Glens Falls NY

Hi Beth,

I enjoyed reading your post about nursing and getting a BSN.  I am in a manager position in my role, and have my BSN.  But, in my situation I have been required to get a Masters degree to remain in my position as a manager.  As I am currently enrolled and on my way to my MSN degree, I see the benefit of the additional education.  I can say that money is definitely a burden to me and my family.  I do get $3000. per year reimbursement for school, so over the course of my 15 month program, I will receive $6000.  which is a help.  What bothers me most though is the fact that there is absolutely no financial benefit of my degree within my organization.  It is certainly hard to swallow the fact that it is a requirement of my job, but I will not see any bump in pay whatsoever.  My employer is aware that I will very likely leave a job I love with all of my heart, in order to be able to may the money to repay the loans I needed to go back to school.  It seems like a double edged sword.  I completely see the benefit of my added education, as I have learned so much already and it is so pertinent to my work, but it is disheartening that I won't even get a bit of a raise and will have to leave my position in order to be able to afford the move.  

In my current class, we are looking at policy and its impact on nursing. I certainly would love to see some support for advanced degree nurses to compensate for the financial burden it places.  

michelle levine, Nurse Care Managment - Program Manager June 25, 2016 3:02 PM
NC

Hi Beth.

I enjoyed reading your post. I am an older (60year old) RN who went back in 2012 and received my BSN, I had college credits from 1976 which my online college accepted all of them,  so my course burden was low, only my nursing courses(8). I had to take out student loans for this because being an older RN with 30+ years of hospital bedside nursing experience in med/surg, telemetry and step-down without my BSN during the 4 years of recession, I could not get a job! Needless to say those 4 years were extremely frustrating and took its financial toll on me severly.I had been looking at this online school for quite a few years and self determined I was not eligible for student loans and was in no position to pay out of pocket. Iwas in and out of temporary employment position taking every temp nursing position I could- many were out of the box and paid $35.00/hr. or 3 months or 6 months. The job search in between those positions was extremely painful and difficult not to mention exhausting. I finally went to the Unemployment hysterical and spoke to the office supervisor who encouraged me to apply to the online school to see what financial aid package they could offer me. I received a $1000.00 scholarship with my essay and qualified for Pell grants and the remaining balance was taken out in student loans. That IOM report is all well and good but was inappropriate in its timing on publication and syndication and it was very poor judgment on the nursing profession's part- ANA, nursing hiring management in the employment settings to act on it with such stanch rigidity during the worst economic times this country had seen since the 1930's that it excluded many nurses from employment and the means to feed and provide shelter their families. These are basic needs according to Maslow. The "powers that be" in nursing need to take responsibility for their irresponsible acts, and  poor decision and policy making. None of them were almost starving or out on the street with their loved ones like some of us. Their refusal to hire qualified RN's during that time hurt way too many people and most especially, it was very unfair to the older 55 and order nurses who were forced to go back to accumulate student loan debt that will be carried into their retirement years. A lot of older very seasoned experienced  RN's left the profession all together- I saw that happen many times over (this is presenting a bigger problem in our healthcare system with young inexperienced nurses left at the helm with out guidance and tutelage). These young nurses seem to think because they graduated from school and passed NCLEX they now all there is to now. WRONG. nursing is an everyday learning. The ANA and the nursing profession in general do not seem to want acknowledge or want to address the fact that student loan debt is automatically deducted from your social security check each month. Many of us older nurses do not have retirement accounts or lost what we did have during that recession making social security the major source of our living during our years from 65-66 years and older.

Getting back to my school experience, the BSN program went off with out a hitch.My mentors were very positive and supportive and my efforts were rewarded with a GPA of 4.0 proving older RN are smart and capable of learning. I transitioned seamlessly into their MSN program which I have to say, I have been severely disappointed in. The mentor support and positive reinforcement is not there.  Some of  the courses seem to have been thrown together in haste just to put a curriculum on paper. I feel the differences and factors that have lead up to all this have been a direct result of the ANA's push for this 80% BSN rate. Its like a internet game on candy crush. No thought was given to to broad and long term financial,social and even professional ( lack of experience in our patient care areas) affects of this overly ambition goal in respect to its timing and alignment what  our county's economic climate was and still is.. That BSN had not brought me any more money, in fact my wages have down down considerable- I was making $38.00/hr in 2008 and am now forced to settle for $30.00/hr. Our wages have been dumbed down drastically. My job prospects are very slim- mostly due to my age. They can't call it lack of a BSN or lack of experience. That leaves age as the factor for rejection.!! The ANA needs to get on the stick and figure out how to make good with their older seasoned veteran nurses and find them a gainfully employed respectable place once again in this profession we call nursing. The ANA needs to make what has happened to and will happen to its older experienced nurses a major agenda. It needs to set up scholarships for older experienced veteran nurses who are being forced to return to school so the financial devastation doesn't hit them again in their retirement years. I did a paper in one of my master's level classes on this, the topic needless to say was not welcomed but condemned  by my mentor.  Look at the waste in wisdom and knowledge. Experience doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen with passing the NCLEX. Nursing/hospitals/patients had a built in safety net- its experienced nurses who were employed in numbers to out number the inexperience.  That is gone. I cannot rally around and be a cheerleader for the nursing  world we have created.

Thank you

Karen

Karen Chadwick, Long Term Care - RN BSN June 21, 2016 9:03 PM
Mt Holly NJ

Hello Dionne

Have you spoken with your nursing administration or a program that you are sincerely considering about a delayed payement option?  Or a partnership discount?  I was able to encourage 3 new just last year for other staff members and then directed them to administration.  As for your commitment for three years after completion , I am changing employers and they are paying my tuition reimbursement off as part of my agreeing to a position.  Yes, you would be taxed on the $1 more but even at that rate there are a number of programs across the country that you can achieve a BSN at less than $15,000 so still a sound financial investment.  If you are looking at your future and your marketability you need to consider facilities across the country are looking to achieve the 80% BSN ratio to meet the IOM recommendation of 2010, now is the time to take advantage of these financial incentives.  Please let me know if I can answer any other questions.

Beth

Beth June 18, 2016 8:44 AM
NY

Hmmm, the title says a BSN at No Cost! But I don't see that calculation in your article. Sure my employer has tuition reimbursement but that will cost me three years of my life after they pay for my last class and oh, they don't pay up front so I'm out that money until they decide to send the reimbursement check. And sure they are affiliated with a school for a discount...but it happens to be one of the most expensive schools in the area so no cost savings there. And um, the federal and state governments are going to tax the extra dollar so it's going to take longer than ten years to get that $20 thousand back!

Dionne June 16, 2016 10:57 PM

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