Nonprofit gift to subsidize nursing school tuition

The Yale School of Nursing announced over the weekend that it has received a multi-million-dollar grant from a local nonprofit to provide increased financial aid for nursing students.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust Fund of New York has pledged to provide $2 million in need- and merit-based scholarships and an additional $500,000 to support the startup of the school’s new interdisciplinary program with the Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine, which will train nurses in handling high-pressure emergency situations, Nursing School officials said.

The school’s current financial aid policies offer students a combination of scholarships and loans, and over 90 percent of current students use some form of financial aid to fund their educations, School of Nursing Dean Margaret Gray said. She said the new scholarships will target students in the Graduate Entry Pre-specialty in Nursing program who exhibit financial need, academic promise and a commitment to caring for society’s underserved populations.

Gray said she hopes the increased aid will alleviate the burden on students who often must take out significant loans to pay their tuition.

“Every bit we can do is helpful to our students,” she said. “We want to decrease the potential for graduating with excessive debt as much as possible.”

Because Yale’s nursing school is expensive compared to nursing programs at state schools, increasing scholarships could attract better talent to the school, Patricia Allen, a professor at the School of Nursing, said.

“If we want the best and brightest here at Yale, we need to make it financially possible for them,” Allen said.

The trust’s additional donation of $500,000 to the interdisciplinary program with the Yale-New Haven Hospital and the medical school will fund a comprehensive simulation lab that will provide valuable situational training for students and staff of all three institutions, Gray said.

The program will teach students how to deal with crisis situations that require a group of physicians to work together — a skill that is becoming increasingly important in the medical field, Gray said. She said having the opportunity to participate in simulations is the best way to learn how to react to real-life emergencies.

“The kinds of simulations we can do are very sophisticated.” Gray said. “And we rather [students] get trained in teams in a simulation before they have to deal with real-life patients.”

Students interviewed said that they had not heard about the donation but that the news — of increased financial aid in particular — would be well-received on campus. They said they appreciated the school’s effort to boost aid and said the extra financial help will address an issue of pressing concern to students.

Emily Garber NUR ’10 said the school currently provides many students with loans but offers few scholarships, leaving many students with heavy debt upon graduation.

“YSN tries to make the education as affordable as possible given the limited aid money the school has,” Garber said in an e-mail.

Ulrike Muench NUR ’10, an international doctoral student at the Nursing School, said there is a pressing need for increased funding, given the discrepancies in funding for master’s and doctoral students. She said that since the doctoral program moved to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences last year, obtaining funding has become easier.

Muench said being an international student puts additional financial strains on her because her nonresident status disqualifies her from applying for private scholarships and grants outside the School of Nursing’s financial aid program.

The Helene Fuld Trust Fund of New York is the largest private foundation devoted exclusively to student nurses and nursing education in the nation.

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