Most Affordable Online FNP Programs

March 8, 2022 · 4 Min Read

Family nurse practitioners are in high demand. Learn about the best online FNP programs for your budget and career goals.

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Most Affordable Online FNP Programs
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Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are one of the fastest growing healthcare careers. This list of the most affordable online FNP programs can help you find a high-quality program to match your budget. Our guide includes information about less expensive online FNP programs, how to apply to your ideal program, and how to finance your education.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the most affordable online FNP programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about online FNP programs, or go straight to our list of the most affordable online FNP programs.

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What Can You Do as a Family Nurse Practitioner?

FNPs, like all nurse practitioners (NPs), receive more advanced training and education than registered nurses (RNs). As an FNP, you can be a primary care provider, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medications, including controlled substances.

Depending on the state you work in, you can either practice independently (full practice authority), or you may need to work under a physician's supervision or in partnership with a physician. Some states require a period of physician supervision before NPs can practice independently.

FNPs work in hospitals, private practices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. They also regularly work in other settings, such as military bases, schools, and jails. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NPs earn a median $111,680 annual salary.

What To Look For in an Online FNP Program

The best online FNP program for you depends on your academic and work experience, career goals, budget, and program quality and logistics. Consider all factors when exploring affordable online FNP programs.

Admission requirements tell you what kind of student will likely succeed in the program, as well as how likely you are to be admitted. Core FNP curriculum is generally the same at each school, but you can still choose from elective offerings. The way a school describes its curriculum also tells you about the school's culture and values. If you have to travel for clinical experiences, a seemingly affordable online FNP program might exceed your budget. Can you get clinical placement in your community? If you plan to work while studying, will you need to take time off during the clinical? You must attend an accredited program to receive board certification. Most accredited schools do not accept transfer credits from an unaccredited program. Because of the weight placed on accreditation, we only include accredited programs in our list. Read more about accreditation. How long does the program take to complete? Will you want to attend on a full-time or part-time basis? The NCLEX-RN pass rate and board certification pass rates are excellent measures of program quality. However, consider these factors in the context of the graduation rate. If the graduation rate is low, it means that students may have dropped out or transferred prior to program completion. The best online FNP programs have high graduation and board pass rates. The combination of graduation rate and board or NCLEX-RN pass rates is the strongest indicator of how successful students are in the program. The cheapest online FNP program is not a bargain if the format doesn't work for you. Consider the logistics of attending classes, interacting with faculty and staff, and your learning style.

Applying to an Online FNP Program

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to apply. The best online FNP programs are highly competitive. Ask a trusted mentor or colleague to review your application to ensure it reflects your potential.

Admission Materials

Applications require an undergraduate transcript, at least two references, verification of your current and unencumbered RN license (some nursing schools have options for non-nurses), and an application.

GPA Requirement

Most FNP programs require at least a 3.0 GPA. More competitive options require a GPA of 3.2 or higher. However, if your GPA does not meet expectations, but you have other exceptional qualifications or experience, talk with the admissions staff.

Other Requirements

Most FNP programs require at least two years of experience as an RN.

Why Is Online FNP Program Accreditation Important?

The cheapest FNP program should still help you meet your career goals. This is why accreditation is so important. Attending an unaccredited program is an unnecessary risk of your time and money.

Paying for Online FNP Programs

Your home state's public schools are likely to be your cheapest online FNP program option because you're eligible for in-state tuition rates. However, some affordable online FNP programs charge the same rates to all students.

Paying for nursing school is one of the biggest investments you can make. Fortunately, there are a variety of financial aid options available.

You may be eligible for financial aid from your school, but there are also foundation, association, government, and other grants, loans, and scholarships. Because demand is so high for FNPs, if you commit to serving in an area with a shortage of healthcare providers, you may be able to get full loan forgiveness or a full scholarship.

Learn More About the Most Affordable Online FNP Programs and Schools

Frequently Asked Questions About Online FNP Programs


Are FNPs in demand?

FNPs are in high demand. The BLS projects 52% job growth for NPrs between 2020 and 2030. This is due to a general shortage of primary care providers, as fewer physicians go into primary care, the population ages, and schools struggle to find nursing faculty.

How do I prepare for FNP school?

Whether you're preparing for an online, hybrid, or on-campus FNP program, begin gathering application materials early. If you plan to work while studying, discuss your needs ahead of time with your employer, including extra time off or flexibility during exams and clinical experiences. Talk with recent graduates about what worked best for them.

Is the NP market saturated?

Program admissions are becoming more competitive for the best online FNP programs, as more RNs are drawn to the higher salary and increased professional autonomy. Nationally, demand is still high for NPs, especially in rural areas.

Which nurse practitioner is most in demand?

Demand is high for all NPs, though this figure varies by state. Because of a shortage of primary care providers in many parts of the country, FNPs are most in demand, followed closely by psychiatric NPs, with the COVID-19 pandemic further driving demand.

Related Family Nurse Practitioner Resources

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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