Affordable Online RN to BSN Program in Utah

Pursuing a higher degree can be a life-changing endeavor. Registered nurses (RNs) who earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees open themselves up to a variety of job opportunities, some that pay very well.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for registered nurses in 2022 was $81,220, with the highest 10% earning over $129,000. Being that many top healthcare organizations like Magnet-designated hospitals require nurse leaders and managers to have at least a bachelor’s degree, earning a BSN can expand a nurse’s access to higher-paying positions and career opportunities.

However, education doesn’t come free, and the investment in earning a bachelor’s degree can seem prohibitive to many. The cost of many bachelor’s programs — including some BSN programs — can lead students into unmanageable debt. Fortunately, there are affordable online RN to BSN programs that minimize debt load — prospective students just have to know what to look for when assessing tuition rates.

Understanding the Different Types of Tuition Structures

When researching RN to BSN programs, it’s important to consider all associated costs. Many schools determine tuition on a per-credit-hour structure, which can vary significantly. For example, Southern Utah University (SUU) charges a set tuition rate per credit hour for the school’s accelerated online RN to BSN program. The program consists of thirty credit hours of coursework and can be completed in as few as 10 months. This simple program structure can help students plan finances accordingly, graduate and put their degree to work quickly. Plus, SUU has opened up its program to RNs living in more than half of the states in the U.S. at no additional out-of-state costs (see the school’s Program Map for details).

In comparison, Arizona State University’s online RN to BSN program requires 39 credit hours for degree completion. Tuition is based on per-credit cost (nearly twice the per-credit cost of SUU), but additional fees vary according to factors like the type of program and how many credits a student takes per semester. Plus, out-of-state students pay more than in-state students. Beyond being fundamentally more expensive, the complexity of this tuition and fee structure can make it difficult for prospective students to plan how to manage their time and finances appropriately.

As another example, Boise State keeps tuition and fees the same for resident and nonresident RN to BSN students. At $375, the per-credit cost of Boise State’s online RN to BSN is substantially less than Arizona State’s (though still more expensive than SUU). But again, the per-credit rate does not factor in additional costs and fees like the two separate application fees, per-credit distance education fee, fees for prior learning credits, graduation fee and more.

These are all important factors to consider when estimating the cost of earning a degree. The simplicity of SUU’s per-credit tuition and fees structure can be a great help when running the numbers. Plus, SUU students can pay by the course, affording an increased level of financial flexibility when needed.

What Kind of Environment Is Best for You?

Ultimately, students who want to take advantage of the most affordable option still have to balance cost with other life factors, personal preferences and career goals. Someone who requires more of a hands-on online experience and wishes to have regular face-to-face time with faculty and students may be willing to pay more for that experience in a hybrid program. On the other hand, highly independent students might thrive in a strictly online environment — and the unique flexibility and learning experiences it offers.

Another consideration is semester structure. Many of the schools mentioned above work with a two- or three-semester system (spring, summer and fall). That doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, especially students who hope to move through a program in an expedited manner — or, alternately, a student who needs to take a break from coursework. SUU offers its students more flexibility, with seven-week courses and six start dates each year.

You Don’t Have to Put Your Career on Hold to Earn a BSN

One of the most notable benefits of the online model is the opportunity to keep working while earning a degree. Taken alone, this aspect of SUU’s online RN to BSN program can represent substantial opportunity cost savings as compared to a full-time, campus-based RN to BSN program. In this case, opportunity cost refers to the income and career advancement opportunities a student might have to give up if they quit their job or reduce their hours in order to attend a campus-based program.

Taking the next step in your nursing career by earning a bachelor’s degree is a smart and strategic move. As the healthcare industry faces new challenges and a rapidly evolving climate, the BSN-prepared nursing workforce will be a valuable asset.

Learn more about SUU’s online RN to BSN program.

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