Your Guide to Working While in Nursing School

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Is working while in nursing school possible? It may be possible to work a part-time job with flexible hours, but it's not recommended. Nursing school is a full-time job in itself. However, there are other ways to finance your degree, including federal student aid, Gl Bill benefits, scholarships and loans.

closeup of person's hands with books and a laptop

Applying to nursing school is a big decision. It requires dedication, commitment and perseverance. While juggling coursework, labs and clinicals, it’s likely you may have other responsibilities too, like a family that needs you or a job that pays the bills. Although working while in nursing school is sometimes possible, we generally don’t recommend it.

Given that, we understand that life doesn’t stop for nursing school. You’ll have expenses you’ll need to account for; however, to increase your odds of success, we advise against balancing a full-time job while enrolled in our rigorous nursing curriculum. The University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is set up to give you a comprehensive nursing education that will prepare you to be a practice-ready nurse in as few as 12 months. To reach your goal of becoming a competent and capable nurse, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to the program and give it 100% of your focus.

Nursing School Is a Full-Time Job

Since our program packages a traditional BSN curriculum into 12 months of course study and experiential learning, you’ll need to treat it as if it is a full-time job. This may require you to put parts of your current routine on hold to keep up with the demanding pace of the program.

two UST nursing students working in sim lab

UST’s ABSN program is spread out over four semesters and the pace moves quickly. Between online coursework, hands-on labs and clinical rotations at top healthcare facilities in the Houston metro area, you can expect to spend more than 40 hours a week completing lectures, working on assignments, writing papers, responding to discussion boards and more.

Although we don’t recommend you work full time, some of our students have juggled working while in nursing school successfully, and we understand sometimes you have to do what you have to do to make things work. That said, if you do take on a job during the program, be sure to communicate with your professors and let them know your situation. You’ll also want to take a job that offers highly flexible, part-time hours and a minimal amount of responsibilities.

Before deciding to work while attending nursing school, let’s take a look at how to pay for nursing school without working.

hand typing on laptop

We prioritize student support so you can focus on your success. Explore these 7 nursing student resources for UST ABSN students.

How to Pay for Nursing School Without Working

A return to school to earn your BSN is a significant financial decision that requires planning and preparation. You’ll need to take a close look at your finances to determine how you can juggle your expenses while working as a full-time nursing student for 12 months. Remember that there is no summer vacation during which you could work full-time; the UST ABSN program requires four consecutive semesters.

Our Financial Aid Office can help you identify the best options for financing your accelerated nursing education and answer any questions you may have. You can contact them at (713) 525-2170. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to pay for nursing school, be sure to reach out to a trusted admissions counselor.

Student Aid

Before you can definitively determine if working while in nursing school is an absolute necessity, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA opens the door to federal student aid in the form of federal grants and loans. Every prospective nursing student should fill it out, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll be eligible for aid. After your FAFSA is processed, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report detailing exactly what you’re eligible for.

Some students may be eligible for federal student aid that goes beyond the FAFSA form. If you served in the military, you may be eligible for education benefits under the GI Bill. You may also be eligible for military-related student aid if you are a dependent spouse of a military veteran. All branches of military service participate in education benefits for veterans, and these benefits can potentially cover a significant portion of your tuition and fees.


Scholarships aren’t just for students bound for traditional four-year degree programs. There are thousands of scholarships out there for all types of students. You won’t be eligible to apply for all of them, of course, but it’s well-worth the effort to research scholarship opportunities relevant for you.

Some scholarships are awarded based on merit, while others are awarded based on financial need. Scholarships may be awarded to students entering a particular program of study or career, while others are available for students of a particular background.

To increase your chances of getting free money for your nursing degree, try to apply to as many scholarships as possible. Don’t avoid the ones with low award amounts, either. These tend to have less competition than the scholarships that award thousands of dollars.

Student Loans

When considering how to pay for nursing school, student loans should be the next-to-last item on your list (followed by working while in nursing school). Unlike federal grants, military education benefits or scholarships, you’ll need to repay your student loans.

Spend some time shopping around for the best possible interest rates. Don’t forget to check the terms, either. Look for student loans that offer a reasonable repayment period and options for forbearance and deferment, just in case you need some flexibility while repaying the loans.

UST nursing students studying at table

Ready to start working toward your nursing degree? Check out these 9 nursing school tips for success.

Is Nursing School Worth It?

It will take long hours of studying and a lot of hard work—not to mention some financial juggling—to graduate with your nursing degree. So, is nursing school worth it? Only you can determine if nursing school is worth it for you, of course, but if you’re passionate about healthcare and crave a meaningful career that allows you to make a positive difference, then yes, it can definitely be worth it. Earning your nursing degree is an investment in a brighter future—for you and your future patients.

Beyond the benefits of enjoying a personally fulfilling and meaningful career, nursing offers steady employment prospects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to be 6% from 2021 to 2031, as fast as average. This indicates that healthcare employers expect to hire about 203,200 new nurses each year through 2031. The BLS also reports favorable earnings for RNs. In 2021, the median annual pay for RNs was $77,600.

UST ABSN student standing outside

When you graduate with your nursing degree, the nationwide demand for nurses may help you land a nursing job fairly quickly. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that 76% of nursing graduates were hired upon graduating with their degree, while 93% of nursing graduates were hired within the first four to six months after the completion of their programs.

When you graduate from the UST ABSN program, you’ll be primed to jump into a career centered on helping people. While nursing is sure to keep you on your toes, there will also be opportunities open to you that only come with a BSN. And if you wish, you could decide to earn a graduate nursing degree later to facilitate your career advancement.

You Can Earn a BSN in as Few as 12 Months

An ABSN program like UST's helps you receive a quality, in-demand degree — and it helps you start your new nursing career sooner. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and meet our other academic requirements, you may qualify to apply to UST’s ABSN program.

Find out if you’re a good fit for our program by contacting one of our dedicated admissions counselors, who will help you take the next bold steps toward earning a BSN through the program. Seats are available now!