How to Get Your RN to BSN Paid For By Your Employing Hospital
If you’re a Registered Nurse working at a hospital, it is very possible that you are eligible to get some kind of tuition assistance from your employing hospital to help pay for you to further your education. For instance, many hospitals are happy to help you earn your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and others may even offer additional assistance for a master’s degree.
Not all nurses are aware that tuition assistance is available to them, so if you are interested in advancing your education, it’s a great idea to look into resources that your hospital offers. Because if you can get paid to keep working and get help with going back to school, why wouldn’t you take advantage? Here’s how you can get your RN to BSN paid for by your hospital.
Step 1: Pay a Visit to Human Resources
Your first stop? Your hospital’s human resources department. Most hospitals have a standard tuition reimbursement policy and program that all eligible employees can apply for.
The HR office can help you figure out if you are eligible and get you started on the paperwork that you need to enroll. You can stop in, or schedule an appointment to talk to someone who is familiar with the process. (I, for example, made the mistake of stopping in at lunchtime once, and found the office mostly deserted without anyone to help me, so I’d definitely recommend calling ahead and getting a time and the name of someone to speak to, so your own time is not similarly wasted!)
Some hospitals will also have different ways of offering tuition assistance, so you’ll need to be sure you understand exactly how your hospital’s tuition assistance programs works so you can make an exact plan for financing your degree. Here is a list of some of the questions you should ask when you speak to your HR office:
- Will the hospital pay for the entire tuition upfront, or does it follow a percentage policy? There are many ways this could look, such as the hospital paying for 50% of each class upfront, and the other 50% reimbursed to you following graduation, or the hospital reimbursing up to 75% of the entire cost of tuition only.
- Are educational expenses, like books, included?
- Is there a maximum amount of time you have to complete your degree in order to qualify?
- Is there a credit cap or dollar limit on the amount the hospital will pay?
- Will the hospital work with your school, or will it pay you directly to apply the funds to the degree program?
- What happens if you drop out? Are you required to pay back the tuition assistance?
- What happens in the event you fail a class and need to repeat it?
Step 2: Find Out If You Are Eligible
Most hospitals will clearly have their tuition policies outlined, so you will be able to find out if you are eligible for tuition assistance. The tuition policy will explain eligibility requirements, which usually include:
- Required employment term--you may have to work a certain amount of time at the hospital, such as one year, before you can apply for tuition assistance.
- Minimum employment--if you are a part-time employee, there may be a minimum hours/pay period requirement that you have to meet in order to be eligible. And in some cases, the requirement will apply only to your contracted hours, which means that even if you are a PRN employee who technically meets the hourly requirement, you may not be eligible unless you have a contracted position for the minimum hours.
- Employment commitment--your hospital may require that any employee who receives tuition assistance also commits to a certain term of employment with the hospital. For instance, you may be required to stay on in a nursing position at the hospital for two years after receiving your degree as an exchange for the assistance.
Step 3: Complete All Required Paperwork Updates
Once you are approved for tuition assistance, it’s very important that you don’t forget to follow any required steps along the way.
For example, your hospital may require you to submit your grades along the way, proof of tuition payments made, or updates about your degree progress. It would definitely be a shame if you went through all of the work of applying for--and receiving--tuition assistance, only to miss out on a simple form that would make you ineligible. Keep copies of all of your agreements, any paperwork you turn in, and all of your payment statements.
If you are a working RN who is interested in pursuing your BSN degree, looking into tuition assistance at your employing hospital is definitely a smart financial strategy. Just be sure that you are fully aware of the policies for the hospital’s tuition assistance, know the requirements for eligibility, and are willing to meet any employment commitments that the hospital will ask of you before you get started.