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COVID-19 continues to take a financial toll on hospitals and nurses. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals lost $54 billion in 2021 due to factors like severely ill patients, higher expenses, and fewer outpatient visits.
These financial hardships have led to nursing layoffs, furloughs, and/or reduced hours, even in understaffed facilities. During the pandemic, many nurses left their specialty areas to help in critical care units.
The healthcare industry lost 40,000 jobs in the first three months of 2021, followed by 18,000 positions in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In total, the field has lost about 460,000 jobs since February 2020.
Nurses who quit or were let go faced financial hardships. How would they pay for childcare? Housing? Student loans?
Many national and state organizations stepped up to provide nurses with financial support as repayment for their service during the pandemic. Read on to learn about nursing grants, emergency loans for nurses, and other forms of financial aid available right now.
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National Financial Assistance Programs for Working Nurses
Some national and regional programs are offering financial help for nurses and relatives of healthcare professionals. These funds support healthcare workers affected by COVID-19, or those struggling due to illness or injury. Eligible recipients can receive $500-$60,000, depending on the program.
Coronavirus Response Fund for Nurses
The American Nurses Foundation's $3 million grant helps support nurses unable to work because of COVID-19. Nurses of color receive preference since they were disproportionately affected during the pandemic. The Nurse House distributes funds, which help cover the recipient's mortgage and rent payments.
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants must be registered nurses (RNs) who have COVID-19 or other medical issues that prevent them from working.
Brave of Heart Fund
New York Life and Cigna created this grant to help the families of healthcare workers who died of COVID-19. Funds can be used for funeral costs, medical care, food, and/or housing. Recipients may receive a first-time grant and an additional grant for extended financial needs.
Who Can Apply: This fund supports individuals who have lost family members in the healthcare industry to COVID-19.
HRSA Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
The Health Resources and Services Administration's Health Workforce repays up to 85% of nursing school loans for RNs, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and nurse faculty. Participants must work for two years in a critical shortage facility or an accredited nursing school.
Who Can Apply: Licensed RNs, APRNs, and nursing school faculty can apply for this grant. Eligible applicants must have earned a degree from an accredited school and work full time in a nursing school or high-need area.
National Healthcare Heroes Grant for Nurses
The National Healthcare Heroes Grant for Nurses supports nurses with a burdensome amount of student loan debt who have been negatively affected by the pandemic's mass layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. Applicants must submit college transcripts.
Who Can Apply: Future and current nurses can apply for this grant.
IHS Loan Repayment Program
The Indian Health Services (IHS) offers nurses up to $40,000 to help repay their student loans. Nurses must agree to work for at least two years serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Who Can Apply: Healthcare professionals (licensed or not) can apply, if they pledge to work in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Amount: Up to $40,000
First Responders Children's Foundation Individual Financial Hardship Grant
The First Responders Children's Foundation offers financial support for the children of first responders who were injured or died on the job. Applicants can use funds for childcare, housing, and/or medical care, and must show proof of financial need and a first responder ID.
Who Can Apply: This grant supports children of first responders, including police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and ICU workers such as nurses.
Nurse Next Door
The Nurse Next Door program helps nurses become homeowners, with grants of up to $6,000 and down payment help of up to $10,681. New homeowners can benefit from no application fees, upfront costs, or broker fees, and free appraisals covering up to $545.
Who Can Apply: Any healthcare worker, including nurses, can apply to the program.
NHSC Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) helps thousands of healthcare professionals who work in rural and underserved areas. Healthcare workers in primary care, dental care, or behavioral and mental health can apply, but they must sign a two-year contract to work at a NHSC site. The application process takes about three weeks.
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include U.S. citizens who work at Medicaid or Medicare provider sites and are licensed to work at NHSC locations.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This federal grant offers loan forgiveness for public workers after they have made 120 payments on a direct loan. Eligible candidates must have paid their loan under an income-driven repayment plan.
Who Can Apply: Nurses who work full time for federal, state, local, or tribal agencies, including the military, can apply. Eligible applicants also include AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers.
COVID-19 Frontline Healthcare Workers Behavioral Health Fund
The HealthWell Foundation supports nurses who worked on the frontlines helping patients with COVID-19 and are seeking behavioral health treatments such as prescriptions, counseling, and psychotherapy.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be seeking behavioral health treatment because of their experience as a COVID-19 frontline worker. Eligible recipients must also meet income requirements and have insurance that covers their medications.
Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service
The Gary Sinise Foundation offers financial aid for healthcare providers and their families. Qualifying applicants must have served on the frontlines fighting COVID-19. As of August 2020, the foundation has given out $465,418 in grants.
Who Can Apply: Healthcare workers who worked to combat COVID-19 can apply for funding.
Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program
This federally-funded program repays nursing student loans, up to 60% over two years and 25% in the third year. The program aims to increase the numbers of trained and licensed nurses in shortage areas.
Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens, nationals, or dual citizens qualify for this program. Applicants must be licensed nurses working full time in a high-need area.
Faculty Loan Repayment Program
Nursing faculty can receive up to $40,000 toward their student loan debt through the Faculty Loan Repayment Program. This grant encourages nursing students to pursue academic careers.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a nursing faculty member, come from a disadvantaged background, and hold a two-year contract at an accredited school to receive funds.
Amount: Up to $40,000
Everyday Hero Housing Assistance Fund
The Virtual Sports Academy created the Everyday Hero Housing Assistance Fund in 2011 to help nurses, firefighters, police officers, and teachers purchase homes. The organization uses its own agents and lenders, cutting down on sales costs.
Who Can Apply: Any nurse, except those in New York and Vermont, can apply for assistance.
State-Specific Financial Assistance Programs for Working Nurses
State governments and local organizations offer financial support to help healthcare workers pay for childcare, education, and emergency expenses. Recipients usually must meet residency standards in the state to receive funds.
Alabama Department of Human Resources - Child Care Assistance for First Responders and Healthcare Community
In recognition of the pandemic's toll on healthcare workers, the Alabama Department of Human Resources offers a childcare program for first responders and other healthcare workers. Income does not determine program eligibility.
Who Can Apply: Parents who enroll their children in a Child Care Subsidy Program can apply.
Arkansas Department of Human Services - Essential Worker Child Care Assistance
Arkansas offers free or reduced childcare for essential workers, including teachers, nurses, law enforcement, and grocery store workers. The Division of Childcare and Early Childhood Education's Family Support Unit provides this grant for parents with children enrolled at approved childcare sites.
Who Can Apply: Any essential care worker struggling to pay for childcare can apply for support. Applicants must provide photo identification, proof of residency, a birth certificate, and social security card.
United Nurses Associations of California - SPNN Hardship Fund
The Sharp Professional Nurses Network (SPNN) offers support for members undergoing financial hardship due to illness, a family emergency, or a natural disaster. Applicants may be eligible for a grant due to hardships experienced during 2020.
Who Can Apply: This fund is available for healthcare professionals who are SPNN members in good standing.
Louisiana Department of Education - Childcare Assistance Program Pandemic Services Crisis
The Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Department of Health started this grant in recognition of the difficulties healthcare workers faced during the pandemic. The program benefits children ages 12 and under.
Who Can Apply: Eligible participants include essential hospital workers at Tier 1 or Tier 2 facilities, including nurses, nursing assistants, and social workers.
Mississippi Nurses Foundation - Nurse in Need Program
The Mississippi Nurses Foundation sponsors this grant for members who have experienced an accident, injury, natural disaster, loss of transportation, or lack of childcare. Candidates must explain their need for financial assistance.
Who Can Apply: Any member who has experienced financial hardship can apply for funds.
Oregon Nurses Foundation - COVID-19 Relief Fund for Polk or Marion County Nurses
Oregon nurses can apply for this grant to help cover childcare costs or receive reimbursement for work expenses like personal protective equipment and hotel accommodations.
Who Can Apply: Nurses from Oregon who worked in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Washington State Nurses Foundation - Nurses Emergency Assistance Grant
Etta B. Cummings, the founder of the Washington State Nurses Foundation (WSNF), created this fund to help overworked nurses in the state. The foundation sponsors grants and scholarships for nurses who have experienced unemployment, injuries, illnesses, or other crises.
Who Can Apply: Eligible candidates must be current WSNF members who have not received a Nurses Emergency Assistance Grant in the last year.
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