Loans, Scholarships and School

One of the reasons I am often given for why a would-be midwife puts off her training is money. Truth is, it can be very expensive to be a student. I remember how unreasonable the costs seemed when I first became certified as a childbirth educator. I needed to buy about 5 books, pay for a membership and certification fees and of course attend a seminar that meant travel and hotel expenses. The total cost, because I went with a more expensive program, was about $2000. It took me the better part of 2 years of teaching childbirth classes to make the money back for my family.

Midwifery school makes that $2000 seem like nothing. I first had to become an RN – which I did through an accelerated bachelor program that provided me with some scholarships and about $25,000 of student loans. Then on to my Midwifery school, 5 semesters at a major university graduate program.  Thankfully I have a scholarship, but it will only cover 4 semesters and does not include books and I still need to cover the MPH I am working on at the same time. Don’t forget I am not working because there is no time to work, so more loans to pay for this.  I anticipate being near $100,000 total debt when I am done – and that is with a full scholarship for 4 semesters.

As frightening as my student loan bill may be, I promise you it can be done cheaper. For starters, you don’t need to attend a private BSN program. I did that because I was in a hurry, but I could just as easily joined the waiting list for my local community college RN program because I already had a BS in another subject. Most university CNM programs can be completed in 4 semesters.  Mine is longer because in addition to CNM I am also completing an FNP (family nurse practitioner) and an MPH (master’s in Public Health) – so I am working on three degrees in two graduate schools at one time.  The schools are within one university so they cooperate, but it is still longer and more expensive than going straight CNM.

Other options include distance learning programs so you can maintain your current job and avoid the moving expenses I incurred. You can attend school part time so you can work to prevent the major decline in income and increase in loans. You can take some time off between degrees.  You can share books with a colleague.  Apply for grants and scholarships.

My point is, if you want to pursue training as a birth professional you can find a way to make it work.  Remember it is not simply about pursuing an interest, it is an investment in your career. Get creative and research the options available to you.  You might be surprised what you find out.