LPN to RN Online Program Typical Costs

LPN to RN Online Program Tuition

Many LPNs want to know how much getting their RN license online will cost. Information on the cost of online programs varies widely. Estimates range all the way from $4,000 to $100,000. It can be very hard to find research backed information on the topic. We analyzed 71 top LPN to RN online programs to get information on the real costs of online RN licensure for LPNs. These schools were pulled from our own top list, US News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. Each of the schools we analyzed offer a purely online degree program. Most (78.9%) of the schools were public universities. Some (21.1%) schools were private. You can access all this information for yourself at our RN Program Rankings page.

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The lowest cost online program is $5,164 a year at The University of Texas at El Paso. The highest cost program is $37,202 a year at Sacred Heart University. Most programs were at the low end of this range. The median cost of a year in an LPN to RN online program is $14,500 per year.

The graduation rate of an online program is a great way to get a quick look at the quality of the program. Higher graduation rates are typically found in universities with better student resources and low student to staff ratios. The graduation rates of the universities we analyzed ranged from 19.1% (University of Arkansas at Little Rock) to 82.4% (Ohio State University Main Campus), but most rates are around 52.8%, plus or minus 12.8%.

When we compared graduation rate to cost, we found something interesting. Graduation rates peak and plateau at around $20,000 a year. That means that graduation rates stayed about the same after hitting $20,000 a year for tuition.

After comparing graduation rates to cost, we found three schools that really stood out:

  1. University of Wisconsin – Madison, yearly cost of $15,317 and a graduation rate of 81.8%!
  2. University of Delaware, yearly cost of $14,748, and a graduation rate of 79.9%.
  3. Michigan State University, yearly cost of $13,836 with a graduation rate of 79.4%.

5 Tips for Saving Money in LPN to RN Online Programs

  1. Use the nursing supplies that you already have from working as an LPN. Scrubs, stethoscopes, penlights, bandage scissors, pocket guides, clipboards, organizers, and other supplies can all add up. You may already have some of these supplies from working as an LPN. Unless your school requires you to buy new ones, you can save a lot of money by using the supplies you already have. If you don’t already have some of the things you need, make sure to shop around for the best prices. Some nursing blogs like The Nerdy Nurse even have reviews of all the best nursing products.
  2. Shop online for textbooks instead of going into the university book store. Again, unless your program requires you buy books from their book store, you should always check around for the best deal. You can use websites like Text Surf to compare textbook prices on multiple websites at once. Many of these websites have textbook return systems. Returning textbooks for a refund is another way of saving money. Just make sure the ISBN number matches your textbook exactly, or you could buy the wrong edition.
  3. Only take the NCLEX once. This is a no brainer, but the NCLEX costs around $200 every time you take it. By passing the NCLEX the first time, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars. It’s worth it to invest in NCLEX study guides the first time around!
  4. Pay close attention to the fees that potential LPN to RN online programs charge. Many universities will tout a low yearly tuition rate, and then charge you thousands of dollars in fees every semester. When choosing the best program for you, request a full list of fees from the university first. That way you know what the complete price will be. You will save yourself money in the future by knowing the complete program cost.
  5. Create a budget for yourself, and stick to it. Many universities will offer loans and financial help for more than the cost of school so that you can pay for your living costs while attending. Without a budget, it’s easy to accept financial help from loans you don’t need. By budgeting what you will need to live while going to school, you can see how many loans you need to take out. This will reduce your loan payment costs in the future.

What to Do About Lost Income During LPN to RN Online Programs

It is very difficult to have to  work and attend a university at the same time. Thankfully, the convenience of online classes offer enough flexibility for LPNs to continue working while getting their RN license. In fact, this is why many LPNs choose to enroll in LPN to RN online programs. It is still extremely important to have a plan, and to budget your time while attending a program. Always make sure to be realistic and practical when you are planning to attend school and work at the same time. You may think that it is possible to come home after a long day and study, but you will find it’s much harder in practice. Give yourself enough time to relax and re-focus on your goals after working.

Social Costs During LPN to RN Online Programs

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Some students attend an LPN to RN online program at a university, work 40 hours a week, and barely get enough sleep every night. They often do not have time to hang out with friends. Be sure to prepare yourself for the social “costs” of attending your program. By managing your time efficiently you will have time for relaxing and socializing. Even if you can only go out with friends once a month – it’s important to maintain social connections.

How to Pay for LPN to RN Online Programs

Self Pay

Every LPN to RN online program offers the option to pay for your tuition yourself. This option is the most expensive, but incurs the least amount of debt. This option is rarely used because everything is due up front at the beginning of the semester. Most LPNs do not have tens of thousands of dollars waiting around for education costs. However, some schools will work with you to create a payment plan. You will still have to pay the full cost of tuition yourself, but the amount is broken up into several payments. You will usually make these payments over the course of the semester. Depending on the program, it may be possible to only take one or two classes at a time. It is much easier to afford one or two classes, rather than four. Don’t worry if you cannot afford to pay for your LPN to RN online program yourself. There are many other options available. These include scholarships, work study programs, federal student aid, and student loans.


There are many nursing scholarships available to cover the expenses of LPN to RN online programs. Helpful websites from nursing organizations like AACN offer comprehensive scholarship resource lists. We found 4 great scholarships almost any undergraduate nursing student can apply to and we have an LPNBSN Education Scholarship we are proud to offer.

1. TYLENOL Future Care Scholarship

Who can apply? Any student enrolled in a 2 or 4 year college healthcare program (including an LPN to RN online program) can apply. Must be a US citizen.

When can you apply? The application period for this scholarship lasts from early summer to late summer. In 2015 it ran from May 4 to June 30.

How much money do they award? 20 scholarships are awarded from $500 to $2,500. Thirty scholarships are for $5,000. Ten lucky scholarship winners receive $10,000. The scholarships are non-renewable.

Where can you apply? Students can find application details on TYLENOL’s website, and in their FAQ PDF.

2. NURSE Corps Scholarship Program

Who can apply? US citizens enrolled in a 2 or 4 year accredited nursing degree program. You can’t have property liens or federal service obligations. They would conflict with the service contract you sign.

When can you apply? The application period runs all year, but you must start your program before September 30th of the year that the scholarship is awarded to you.

How much money do they award? Scholarship funds are determined depending on the program you attend. All scholarships cover full tuition, books, clinical supplies, and uniforms. All scholarships also cover a monthly stipend for personal expenses. The monthly stipend amount for the 2015-2016 year was $1,316 before taxes.

Where can you apply? All application and service contract information is on the HRSA.gov website. The scholarship requires you to sign a service contract. That means that after you graduate and pass the NCLEX, you agree to work at an HRSA approved healthcare facility for 1 to 4 years.

3. Giva Nursing Student Scholarship

Who can apply? All students, currently enrolled either full or part time in an accredited nursing program in the United States or Canada are eligible to apply. The candidate must be enrolled and active as a student at the time of the application.

When can you apply? Applications are accepted all year. The award cycle deadlines are September 1st and March 1st. You can only apply once a year.

How much money do they award? Scholarship winners are awarded $1,000.

Where can you apply? Applications are only accepted virtually via email. Instructions for applications are given here.

4. Tafford Medical Scholarship

Who can apply? All applicants must be enrolled in an accredited nursing school, be 18 years of age and reside in the United States.

When can you apply? New enrollment for this scholarship is beginning in the Fall of 2015.

How much money do they award? The scholarship award is $500 in cash.

Where can you apply? A convenient application request form is offered on the Tafford website.

Work Study Programs

Most public and some private universities offer federal “work study” awards. You need to speak with your program’s financial aid office to find out if your university gives work study. Work study programs allow students to work part time while going to school. The amount that you receive for your work depends on their federal award amount, and the job that you do. Jobs can be on or off campus. Federal regulations limit the amount of hours you can work depending on your award amount and your school’s preferences. Jobs are given based on your area of study. You can opt in to receive a work study award while filling out your Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Federal Student Aid

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The Federal Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA, is an application that US college students can fill out. The US Department of Education then determines your eligibility for school funding. You can fill out the FAFSA with help in your school’s financial aid office. You can also fill it out yourself on the FAFSA.GOV website. The most common school grant is the Pell Grant. The maximum award amounts change yearly. For the 2015–16 school year the maximum Pell Grant award is $5,775. The actual amount that you receive depends on several things. This includes financial need, cost of attendance, enrollment status, and how long you plan to attend school. You can see all of this information and more on the StudentAid website.

Student Loans

Student loans are a final choice for paying for your LPN to RN online education. Student loans are sometimes offered by the university that you attend. Usually, the US federal government awards loans directly to students. These loans are determined after filling out your FAFSA. There are two types of federal student loans: direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized.

Direct subsidized loans are offered to students who show financial need on their FAFSA. The US Department of Education pays all loan interest while you are in school, for 6 months after you graduate, and during any periods of deferment.

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They offer unsubsidized loans to all students regardless of financial need on their FAFSA. You are responsible for the full amount of interest after you accept the loan, even while in school. If you choose not to pay the interest while in school, you will be required to pay the interest after you graduate. The interest accumulates while you go to school, and is capitalized. That means you’re not paying interest on just the initial loan. You are paying interest on all interest charged while you were in school PLUS the initial loan amount.

It is in your best financial interest to accept only subsidized loans. However, this is not an option for all students. Some LPN to RN online programs cost more than what you can cover. Sometimes your scholarships, your grants, and your subsidized loans still aren’t enough. If this is the case, it is in your best interest to accept all loans offered to you.