studying nursing online

In our increasingly technological world, more nurses are following up on their associate degrees in nursing with further education to earn their bachelor’s degrees. This additional training can open the door to leadership opportunities, better pay, and improved patient outcomes.

No one wants to pay more for their RN-to-BSN program than they need to. In this article, we’ll look at factors that play a role in determining program costs and discuss some of the top programs available.

What Is an RN-to-BSN Program?

RN-to-BSN programs are generally designed for registered nurses (RNs) who already have their associate degree and nursing licensure and work in the field. The programs allow students to transfer a significant number of credits from previous coursework — up to 90 credits — and may also offer credits for real-life nursing experience.

How Much Do Online RN-to-BSN Programs Cost?

There’s no single answer to how much RN-to-BSN programs cost simply because each institution sets its own rates, which may vary significantly from school to school. You should be able to check your program’s institution’s website or ask an admissions counselor to determine the cost of attendance. Here are some of the factors that are likely to play a role in determining your rate:

Private vs. public

Generally, public institutions that receive funding from their state government charge less than private colleges and universities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual rate for full-time study at a public four-year institution in 2020-2021 was $9,400, compared with $37,600 at private non-profit institutions.

It’s worth noting that few students attending private institutions pay the total rate but instead rely on scholarships, grants, work-study jobs, and other sources of financial support that allow them to pay a lower rate. Public institutions may also have financial aid for students in need.

In-state vs. out-of-state

Where you live and what program you decide to attend may play a role in determining your tuition rate. Before the advent of online programs, students generally attended college near their homes, so there was no need for different tuition rates depending on their location. However, online education allows you to attend a school on the other side of the country from where you live.

Some schools, notably public institutions, charge a different rate for in-state and out-of-state students. However, many colleges charge the same amount for online programs, no matter where you live.

Distance education fees

Although you may save money with an online program, especially when it comes to driving, parking, and living expenses, you may find that your online program has charges that in-person students do not need to pay. Although these fees are likely low, your program may charge a technology fee, for example, to cover equipment and software costs. There may also be an access fee, which goes toward costs such as cloud storage, VoIP expenses, and any other charges that allow you to view and participate in your education online.

Transfer and prior learning credits

You will need to earn some credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. For semester-based institutions, that’s usually 120 credits. For an online RN-to-BSN program, you should be able to transfer roughly half of those from your associate degree. You can also transfer credits based on how long you have been working as a nurse. The more credits you can transfer into your program, the less you will pay to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Most Affordable RN-to-BSN Online Programs

BSN-trained nurses are in high demand as hospitals and other medical institutions increasingly require a higher level of training. The best online RN-to-BSN programs offer the type of training employers are looking for at a reasonable rate.

Here are some institutions with well-regarded, cost-conscious online RN-to-BSN programs:

1. University of Florida

University of Florida’s online BSN program is among the most affordable options for nursing students. Residents of Florida pay $129.18 per credit hour, while out-of-state residents pay $552.62. This cost includes tuition and other required fees; additional optional fees may increase the price slightly. All applicants must have an associate degree from an accredited program, a GPA of 2.8 or higher in nursing coursework, and an active Florida RN license or enhanced licensure through the Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). This program requires 90 clinical hours, some of which can be completed through virtual simulation.

2. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern’s program charges the same for in-state and out-of-state students: $159 per credit hour. The program is entirely online, and there is a fast-track option that can have you earning your degree in as few as two semesters. With asynchronous courses available 24/7, the program is designed for working RNs. Applicants must have a current Georgia or Compact RN licensure and a minimum GPA of 3.0. Admission to the program includes individual advisement services with the RN-to-BSN program director and an academic advisor.

3. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida offers the same base tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students — $105.07. But out-of-staters also pay a $511.06 nonresident fee and a distance learning fee of $18 per credit hour,.  However, there is scholarship assistance available to BSN students. The program is 30 credit hours and can be completed entirely online, either part-time or full-time. If taken full-time, the program can be completed in three semesters. Courses include Health Promotion Across the Lifespan, Nursing Research, and Public and Community Health Nursing.

4. Eastern Carolina University

Eastern Carolina University’s RN-to-BSN program has an in-state rate of $204.79 per credit hour for students. Those not living in North Carolina will pay $883 per credit hour. Students can transfer credits as well as earn credit for professional experiences. Applicants must have a North Carolina nursing license or one from an NCSBON-compact state and a GPA of 2.5 or higher. The program requires 33 credit hours and provides courses like Nursing Leadership and Finance, Professional Communication in Nursing, and Nursing in a Global Society. Although all courses are online, students may need to complete offline experiences in their home region.

5. University of West Florida

University of West Florida’s online BSN program has an in-state tuition rate of $218.98 per credit hour and an out-of-state rate of $648.37 per credit hour. However, the university waives 75% of the out-of-state tuition costs, so students pay only $341.67 per credit hour. All active-duty military members receive a 100% waiver of nonresident tuition. The program requires 32 credit hours, including courses such as Pharmacology, Gerontological Nursing, and Law and Ethics in Nursing. Applicants must have a 2.75 GPA and hold a valid RN license from the state they will reside in while completing their coursework. The program also requires 45 direct care hours completed as part of a capstone course.

Interested in another degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.