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ASU Nursing Department Awarded National Grants

July 07, 2011

Angelo State University’s Department of Nursing has been awarded grants totaling $29,406 from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to continue funding two of the department’s key graduate student financial aid programs for the 2011-12 academic year.

A $21,175 HRSA grant will go towards the Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) program. An additional $8,231 grant will provide funding for the department’s Nursing Faculty Loan Program (NFLP).

The AENT program provides traineeships to graduate students enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) programs with the options of clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, nurse educator or a collaborative nurse practitioner program with Texas Tech University. Traineeships can be used to help pay for tuition, books and other fees.

“With the addition of these AENT funds to our other financial aid programs,” said Dr. Leslie Mayrand, dean of the ASU College of Nursing and Allied Health, “I would encourage any registered nurse who wants to seek advanced education to contact the Nursing Department to see what types of financial assistance are available to help achieve their educational goals.”

Dr. Susan Wilkinson, head of the Nursing Department, added, “With the vast majority of graduate nursing students already employed as full-time nurses, they are often not eligible for need-based financial aid to continue their educations. Traineeships are particularly beneficial because all graduate nursing students are eligible.”

The NFLP awards low-interest loans to selected ASU graduate students to pay for tuition, fees, books and supplies as they work towards master’s degrees in nursing with a nurse educator focus. Once a student graduates and is hired by a school of nursing, 85 percent of the loan is forgiven over a four-year period as long as the recipient remains on faculty.

“Also, what a lot of nursing schools are doing if they want to attract faculty that have come through this program, they will pick up the remaining 15 percent of the loan,” Mayrand said. “So, those nurses will have basically earned their master’s degrees free and clear.”

Students already in the ASU nurse educator program get first priority for NFLP funds and part-time students are also eligible. The NFLP will also pay out-of-state tuition for students in the online program.

The loan program is particularly important as the entire U.S. faces a severe shortage of nursing faculty. According to reports by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), thousands of qualified nursing school applicants are annually turned away due to a shortage of faculty to teach them. Retirement is also expected to claim a large percentage of current nursing faculty over the next 15 years.

“This program was developed to help address that,” Wilkinson said. “It will cover the expenses for a student to get a master’s degree in nursing education, so it is a win-win situation.”

HRSA grant amounts are calculated using a formula that reflects increased enrollment, graduation rates and growth in diversity. ASU has received funding for the AENT program since 2002 and for the NFLP since 2003. More than 150 students are currently enrolled in Angelo State’s M.S.N. programs.

For more information, call the ASU Nursing Department at 942-2224.