Affordable RN to BSN Programs of 2022: The Cheapest BSN Programs Guide

By Sarah Collins

04/21/2022

Affordable RN-to-BSN programs are an excellent option for working nurses on a budget looking to pursue a BSN. With a favorable job outlook, completion in as little as 12 months, and accredited programs costing as little as $100 per credit, there’s every reason to get a BSN.

Keep reading to learn more about affordable BSN programs, including what to look for, benefits to obtaining a BSN, and a list of highly recommended schools.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many affordable BSN programs available to nursing students on a budget.
  • The most affordable BSN programs cost as little as $100 per credit for in-state students.
  • BSN programs consist of general education/elective courses, nursing courses, and clinical rotations in healthcare settings.

What to Look For in an Affordable RN-To-BSN Program

When considering an affordable RN-to-BSN program, pay attention to the following criteria:

Accreditation

Look for affordable BSN programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

These two accrediting agencies vouch for high educational standards. Also, they allow students to apply for financial aid, transfer credits from another accredited nursing school, and sit in for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Other regional accreditation organizations include:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Number of Clinical Hours

Every BSN program requires that students complete a set amount of clinical rotation hours. They can range anywhere from 300 to 700 hours and require heavy on-site training under the supervision of a nurse.

Setting

There are options of online and offline courses. Online courses allow students to learn at their own pace. However, in-person classes provide individual attention. Consider your learning method when evaluating both options.

Nursing School Rankings

Many lists rank affordable BSN programs in several areas, including the total cost of education. For example, College Choice ranked Gulf Coast State College fifth amongst Florida’s most affordable nursing schools in 2017. In addition, prominent publications like the US News & World Report also have their comprehensive ranking system for Best Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

However, the US News & World Report includes less affordable nursing programs from the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University, with tuition and fees exceeding $60,000. Still, you’ll find some programs (e.g., the fourth-placed University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) costing around $9,000 for in-state tuition.

Benefits of Affordable BSN Programs

Flexible Schedule

Affordable BSN programs mainly come in two formats – synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous programs offer a traditional schedule with set class times. Asynchronous programs offer looser scheduling that allows students to complete them at their own pace – an excellent choice for working professionals.

Accelerated Programs

Affordable, accelerated BSN programs allow nursing students to earn their degrees in as little as 18 months. These programs allow students to earn credit for undergraduate work and make it faster to fill the growing demand for nurses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 276,800 new registered nursing positions will be added by 2029, highlighting the need for nurses to be in the field faster.

Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)

BSN nurses can earn their Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) upon graduation. This multi-state license allows them to work in different states without applying for a state’s governing board license.

High Salaries Upon Graduation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 RN average salary was $75,330 or an average hourly wage of $36.22. This pay is higher than many similar healthcare roles, such as occupational health/safety specialists, dietitians, and nutritionists.

Additionally, BSNs can earn more in management and training roles. So a $100,000 annual salary is not out of the question.

Of course, salaries vary considerably based on a nurse’s location, health setting, shift type, area of specialization, and years of experience.

Excellent Job Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for registered nurses is expected to increase by 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Career Paths

BSNs can move into different career paths such as intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, pediatric, surgical, and obstetrics. Additional certifications allow nurses to work in emergency rooms and healthcare information systems.

Here’s a list of specializations BSNs can work towards. Note that some require a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor in Nursing degree and certification.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Certified Registered nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Nurse Care Manager
  • Infection Control Nurse
  • Occupational Nurse
  • Telemetry Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Informatics Nurse
  • Charge Nurse

What Are Some Recommended Affordable BSN Programs?

Here are highly recommended affordable BSN programs, selected based on program, cost of tuition (not including one-off costs and recurring fees), reputation, cost per credit, and inclusion in federal, state, and local aid programs.

School: Western Carolina University (WCU)

Western Carolina University (WCU)

As the westernmost institution in the University of North Carolina System, WCU attracts students from around the globe for its nationally ranked programs, affordability through NC Promise and exceptional student…....

Accounting Business Business Administration Nursing
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Cullowhee, North Carolina

Cost: $21,663 (in-state) and $42,449 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Inclusion in NC Promise Tuition Plan available to Western Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Elizabeth City State University students.

School: Pensacola State College

Pensacola State College

Pensacola State College is a public, comprehensive community college that was founded as Pensacola Junior College in 1948. As the oldest and largest college in the Panhandle, PSC serves traditional and…....

Accounting Business Administration
Florida, US    School Type : Public

Location: Pensacola, Florida

Cost: $2,902 (in-state) and $11,676 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Students are eligible for federal student loans, private student loans, scholarships, and grants.

School: Fayette State University

Fayette State University

Fayetteville State University combines small class sizes, renowned professors, an active campus life, and a diverse, vibrant student body to give you the dynamic undergraduate experience that will be the…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Cost: $4,299.44 (in-state) and -$9,135.50 (out-of-state)

Benefits: FELS (Forgivable Education Loans for Service), up to $20,000 in funding, is available for North Carolina residents. All UNC Health Care system employees can apply for a tuition waiver.

School: Miami Dade COllege

Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College is the most diverse institution in the nation. There are 167 nations and 63 languages represented in its student body. The college's eight campuses and outreach centers…....

Accounting Biology Business Administration Chemistry
Florida, US    School Type : Public

Location: Miami, FL

Cost: $16,236.25

Benefits: Students may be eligible for the Helen B. Bentley Annual Nursing Scholarship, available to studies in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Monroe Counties.

School: Georgia Southwest State University

Georgia Southwest State University

A unique blend of tradition and modernity, Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) is a world-class institution that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Our campus is located on…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
Georgia, US    School Type : Public

Location: Americus, Georgia

Cost: $14,901.04 (in-state)

Benefits: This is a 100% online program.

School: Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Boone, NC

Cost: $7,950 (in-state) and $23,954 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Students are eligible for North Carolina-based scholarships (e.g., North Carolina Foundation for Nursing (NCFN) and loans (e.g., North Carolina Forgivable Education Loan for Service)

School: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

FOUNDED FOR THE GREATEST GENERATION. SHAPING WHAT’S NEXT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. In the 1940s, cities across the United States experienced an acute need for workforce expertise to meet marketplace demands…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Cost: $169.18 per credit hour

Benefits: North Carolina Forgivable Education Loan for Service (FELS).

School: University of North Carolina at Wilmington

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

At the institution’s first commencement ceremony in 1949, legendary Wilmington College President John T. Hoggard reflected on the efforts by local leaders and citizens to establish a place of higher…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Wilmington, North Carolina

Cost: $185.13 per credit hour (in-state) and $771.17 (out-of-state)

Benefits: A brilliant school with a high student-to-faculty ratio. This university’s baccalaureate program is designed to prepare you for graduate programs in the future. There are six start dates throughout the year. In-state students can take advantage of FELS (Forgivable Education Loans for Service), where the state of NC provides up to $20,000 in funding.

School: Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University Intensive English Language Program

Intensive English Language ProgramThe Intensive English Language Program (IELP) at Cleveland State University can help you improve your English skills for educational, business or personal goals. By living "in the…....

Bridge Programs English for Academic Purposes English for Postgraduates English for Professionals
Ohio, US    School Type : University/Intensive English Program

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Cost: $6,480 (in-state) and $6,561 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Out-of-state students pay nearly the same tuition costs as in-state students.

School: Nevada State College

Nevada State College

Nevada State College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Accreditation of an institution of higher education by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities indicates that it…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
Nevada, US    School Type : Public

Location: Henderson, Nevada

Cost: $7,650 ($212.50 per credit hour) (in-state) and $8,900 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), this online RN to BSN program is just $7,650 for in-state students. However, out-of-state students pay only $8,900 (including fees).

School: McNeese State University

McNeese State University

An Overview:  At McNeese, our approximately 8,000 students can choose from more than 70 degree programs offered by the Colleges of Business, Education, Engineering and Computer Science, Graduate Studies, Liberal Arts,…....

Accounting Agriculture and Natural Resources Art History Arts and Design
Louisiana, US    School Type : University

Location: Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cost: $9,000 (in-state) and $14,000 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Boasting an impressive graduation rate and one of the country’s cheapest online RN to BSN nursing programs, McNeese State University offers very competitive tuition rates, especially to nurses from partner programs. Its curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice, community health nursing, and health assessment skills.

School: Ohio University

Ohio University

The OHIO experience is unique and transformative, not only for students, but for the entire southeast region of the state. With over 28,000 students enrolled across seven regional campuses and…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
Ohio, US    School Type : Public

Location: Athens, Ohio

Cost: $240 per credit hour (in-state) and $243 per credit hour (out-of-state)

Benefits: Known for its excellent student-to-faculty ratio, it boasts this affordable RN to BSN online course, accredited by the CCNE.

School: East Carolina University

East Carolina University

LIVING UP TO THE PROMISE. In his inaugural address as ECU’s first president, Robert Wright established a mission that guided its leaders for more than 100 years and still guides…....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
North Carolina, US    School Type : Public

Location: Greenville, North Carolina

Cost: $5,491 ($166.39 per credit hour)

Benefits: Split into four semesters taken over 16 months, this online RN to BSN program can be taken 100% online. So it’s perfect for students who need a little more time to complete their coursework and learning objectives. There’s also a supportive online community to help you out if you’re struggling.

School: St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College

....

Accounting Biology Business Business Administration
Florida, US    School Type : Public

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida

Cost: $4,502.40 ($140.70 per credit hour)

Benefits: With accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, this degree program from St. Petersburg College is split into three full-time semesters. You can study in-person (campus) or online to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

School: University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

 About the UniversityNestled in the scenic Laramie Valley and in the shadow of the towering Snowy Range Mountains, the city of Laramie is the home of the University of Wyoming.…....

Accounting Aeronautical Science Agricultural Business Agricultural Studies
Wyoming, US    School Type : University

Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Cost: $7,182 (in-state) and $18,682 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and courses approved by the Wyoming State Board of Nursing, this concept-based course is split into 8-week half-semester classes. The schedule makes it perfect for full-time or part-time nurses who need time to fit a nursing degree into their busy lives.

School: North Carolina A & T State University

North Carolina A & T State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public institution that was founded in 1891. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 11,130 (fall 2020), its setting is urban,…....

Accounting Art Art History Arts and Design
United States, US    School Type : Public

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina

Cost: $18,500 (in-state) and $85,625 (out-of-state)

Benefits: Based in North Carolina, this program is completed in just three semesters. Designed with a BSNC entry option for students with an associate’s degree, this course is a pathway for students holding an associate degree in nursing from a community college.

School: Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University is a public university in Hays, Kansas, United States. It is the fourth-largest of the six state universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents, with…....

Accounting Agricultural Business Agricultural Studies Agriculture and Natural Resources
Kansas, US    School Type : Public university

Location: Hays, Kansas

Cost: $6,806.40 ($189.06 per credit hour)

Benefits: With accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, this affordable online RN to BSN program at Fort Hays State University is split over three semesters, teaching students practical skills and knowledge in areas such as critical thinking and leadership.

School: University of Central Florida (UCF)

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida is a public research university in unincorporated Orange County, Florida, northeast of the city of Orlando. It is part of the State University System of…....

Biology Biomedical Laboratory Science Computer Engineering Computer Science
Florida, US    School Type : Public research university

Location: Orlando, Florida

Cost: $6,368.40 ($212.28 per credit hour)

Benefits: The University of Central Florida was named one of the country’s most affordable colleges by Forbes. The Princeton Review also declares UCF a “Best Value University.” The online RN to BSN program here is one of the most affordable in the country, though students must complete university-wide graduation requirements as part of the course.

School: University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas, Arlington

University of Texas at Arlington is a public institution that was founded in 1895. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 35,064 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the…....

Accounting ADN Program Biology BSN Program
Texas, US    School Type : Public

Location: Arlington, Texas

Cost: $8,995 ($257 per credit hour)

Benefits: Although located in Arlington, TX, you can gain your bachelor’s degree in nursing in as little as nine months via its online program. If you’re looking to graduate quickly, this could be the perfect RN-BSN program for you. Research-backed science, nursing leadership principles, and a liberal arts foundation are critical components of this university’s online degree program.

School: Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University is a public institution that was founded in 1893. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,163 (fall 2020), its setting is rural, and the campus…....

Accounting Advertising Advertising and Marketing Communications Art
United States, US    School Type : Public

Location: Silver City, New Mexico

Cost: $10,605 ($294.58 per credit hour)

Benefits: Designed for working registered nurses with experience in community health nursing, this RN-BSN online program from Western New Mexico University has an excellent graduation rate, offering plenty of support for working students.

School: Northeastern State University

Northeastern State University

Northeastern State University is a public institution that was founded in 1846. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,990 (fall 2020), its setting is rural, and the campus size…....

Accounting Art Art History Arts and Design
Oklahoma, US    School Type : Public

Location: Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Cost: $863 per credit hour

Benefits: With accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), this RN-BSN online course from Northeastern State University has six start dates throughout the academic year. It can be completed as quickly as ten months, making it perfect for students who want to advance their nursing careers.

School: Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Southern New Hampshire University

OverviewWelcome to Southern New Hampshire University, an award-winning private university nestled on 300 wooded acres in the heart of the charming and historic northeastern United States. Located just five miles…....

Accounting Aeronautical Engineering Biology Bridge Programs
New Hampshire, US    School Type : University/Intensive English Program

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Cost: $320 per credit hour

Benefits: This university has one of the lowest online tuition rates in the country. So it’s perfect if you’re a registered nurse who needs to save money while studying for their Bachelor Of Science in Nursing degree. It also allows you to access the nursing programs 24/7 with no set class meeting times, financial aid, and SNHU transfer opportunities.

School: Wichita State University

Wichita State University

Wichita State University is a public institution that was founded in 1895. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 12,406 (fall 2020), its setting is urban, and the campus size…....

Accounting Advertising Advertising and Marketing Communications Architecture
Kansas, US    School Type : Public

Location: Wichita, Kansas

Cost: $97.25 per credit hour

Benefits: This RN to BSN online program can be completed in up to 4 years, so it’s very easy to work around life events and a busy schedule at the hospital. It’s accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

School: University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana

University of Southern Indiana is a public institution that was founded in 1965. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,739 (fall 2020), its setting is suburban, and the campus…....

Accounting Art Art History Arts and Design
Indiana, US    School Type : Public

Location: Evansville, Indiana

Cost: $8,900

Benefits: With accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), this program is focused on 8-week classes with multiple start dates, making education flexible and accessible. You only need between 2.0 and 4.0 GPA to be considered for admission.

School: West Virginia University

West Virginia University

West Virginia University is a public institution that was founded in 1867. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 21,086 (fall 2019), its setting is suburban, and the campus size…....

Accounting Acting (BFA) Advertising Agriculture and Natural Resources
West Virginia, US    School Type : Public

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Cost: $5,208

Benefits: With four start dates throughout the year, this RN to BSN requires a minimum of a 2.0 GPA for admission, although a 2.5 GPA is ideal. Like most degree programs in this subject, the course is focused on community health nursing, health assessment skills, evidence-based practice, and more. In addition, students can earn their Bachelor of Science via distance learning (online)

How Much Do RN to BSN Degree Programs Cost?

Tuition for RN to BSN degree programs can range from $8,000 to $55,000, depending on the school, whether in-state or out-of-state, and additional fees.

Luckily, there are all types of financial aid available to nursing students. These come as federal student loans, private student loans, scholarships, and grants.

Here’s a list of BSN scholarships. Please refer to each scholarship’s page for eligibility requirements and deadlines.

 

Why Is a Nursing Degree Important?

Pursuing a nursing degree may be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Here are our top reasons:

Excellent Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 RN average salary was $75,330. Average annual salaries vary considerably between states, with Washington ($93,772), New York ($87,488), New Hampshire ($84,739), California ($83,471), and Vermont ($80,022) enjoying the highest numbers.

Specializations

Nurses can choose from more than 100 nursing specialties, covering any area from neonatal to transplant nursing. Even a managerial or administrative career may be in the cards with a health policy or nurse administrator role.

Remember that a BSN needs to be paired with certifications. For example, medical-surgical nurses need to obtain certification by the Medical-Surgical Nurse Certification Board (MSNCB) and American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC.

Work as a Travel Nurse

Travel nursing offers one of the more lucrative opportunities for nurses, regardless of specialization. On top of securing job opportunities in high-demand locations and enjoying a lower cost per living, travel nurses can easily earn over $3,000 per week or $50+ per hour, considerably more than the average registered nurse salary of $75,330 per year.

Quick in Finding Work

According to a 2020 AACN survey, 94% of BSN graduates secure employment within six months of completing their degree. Upon entering the nursing profession, there’s a 76% job offer rate, climbing to 94% after four to six months.

Excellent Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses’ job growth is expected to climb 9% every year until 2030.

Improved Quality of Care

Studies have shown that BSN nurses enjoy a lower patient mortality rate, lower readmission rate, and better patient outcomes than registered nurses with no BSNs.

Competition

With more than 50% of nurses earning their BSN degree and increased mandates by hospitals to only employ nurses with BSNs, it is quickly becoming a necessity.

The benefits of earning your BSN from an affordable BSN program cannot be understated. On top of a high salary, excellent job prospects, a favorable job outlook, and the ability to move into different specialization areas, BSNs enjoy a long and rewarding career helping those in their greatest time of need.

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