Government Funding for Career Resources

Nursing students
Key decision makers in nursing education should be aware of two federally sponsored programs that provide annual grant funding towards career readiness -- the Perkins Grant and HRSA Grants.
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In nursing education, there are a variety of challenges that administrators face on a daily basis. Recruiting quality teachers, planning important events, workshopping new ideas, helping at-risk students — challenges like these are expected and, at times, even welcomed.

However, resource allocation is a different story. No one goes into nursing, education, or nursing education because they love to plan next year’s budget or secure departmental funding. Nevertheless, resource allocation is a significant part of the job. Therefore, administrators know all too well the frustration of scarce resources, shrinking budgets, and skyrocketing costs. 

Federal funding is an opportune solution for U.S. nursing programs scrambling to secure the funds necessary to provide their faculty and students with premium education resources. These funds help offset the cost of institutional expenditures related to career education.

There are two federally sponsored programs that provide annual grant funding that every nursing decision maker should be familiar with — the Perkins Grant and HRSA Grants.

Perkins Grant

Perkins V — the most recent reauthorization of federal funding for vocational education — is officially known as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act and was signed into law on July 31, 2018. 

The Perkins Grant has been available in some form or fashion for over 100 years. The first authorization from the federal government was the Smith-Hughes Act (1917). New acts of Congress reauthorized and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to career education in 1973 (Vocational Act of 1973), 1984 (Carl D. Perkins Act of 1984; aka Perkins), 1990 (Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act; aka Perkins II), 1998 (Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 1998; aka Perkins III), and 2006 (Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006; aka Perkins IV).

Perkins 5 provides nearly $1.3 billion annually to help bring career education to those who may be underserved. 

The Perkins Grant is the namesake of Representative Carl Dewey Perkins (D) of Kentucky (1912–1984), a man who was a fierce advocate for education and education reform. Mr. Perkins began his career in the House of Representatives in 1949 and served as the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee from 1967 until his death in 1984. 

When asked about Perkins’ impact on education, then president of the National Education Association, Mary Hatwood Futrell, said, “For over three decades, Representative Perkins stood at the very forefront of the effort to enhance the quality of education in our nation. He was truly Mr. Education.”

HRSA Grants

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $10 billion in grants during the 2019 fiscal year to make health care services better and more accessible. 

These grants focus on Health Workforce Training, Maternal and Child Health, Rural Health, Primary Care/Health Centers, and other concentrations like nursing education. The HRSA offers nursing grants and cooperative agreements to support nursing education and practice. 

As the primary federal agency for improving health care to those who are medically or economically vulnerable, HRSA supports the training of health professionals in order to help those lacking quality healthcare. 

Because of the HRSA’s more than 3,000 grantees through 90-plus programs, tens of millions of Americans receive affordable and quality health care. It’s mission is “to improve health outcomes and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce, and innovative, high-value programs. 

HRSA fulfills this mission through grants and cooperative agreements and is a valuable funding resource for nursing programs across the country.

Grant Appropriation

The federal funding U.S. nursing programs receive is to be appropriated for educational purposes that contribute to career development, giving administrators discretionary latitude in allocation.

Resources that improve students’ critical thinking skills and clinical readiness are ideal appropriation for funds received through federal grants.

Online learning tools, such as UWorld’s Learning Platform for Nursing, that prepare students for NCLEX® and clinical success can be used by faculty and distributed to students as a supplement in the learning process. 

Such an allocation is beneficial for administrators, instructors and students alike.

  1. Performance reporting at the individual, group, and cohort level allows administrators to stay informed and gauge success. 
  2. Assignable questions, classroom presentation features, and a detailed gradebook are perfect supplements for teachers — these tools complement instruction and allow for remediation when needed. 
  3. The questions assigned and a self-study QBank for students increase critical thinking skills and clinical judgment, leading to more confident and prepared cohorts.

It’s tools like these for which federal grants were created, to, as the HSRA mission statement describes, “improve health outcomes and achieve health equity through . . . innovative, high-value programs.

Getting Started

For many, the idea of applying for a federal grant can be intimidating. However, you might be surprised at the accessibility of instruction and the availability of funds available. Millions are allocated each year to nursing programs. And for programs that meet the educational criteria, many of these funds are distributed on a first come, first served basis. 

Whether you outsource your grant application or decide to follow the instructions for a grant application yourself — complete mandatory registrations, determine your eligibility, prepare your application, follow the application process, become a grant reviewer — the investment is well-worth it. 

With the availability of funds through the Perkins Grant and HRSA Grants, resource allocation can be less of a burden for administrators than in the past. A new influx of revenue can increase the margins in your annual budget and allow you to focus on what matters most, the education of your students as you guide them from classroom to clinical success.

PCRN: Perkins IV. (n.d.). 

PCRN: Perkins V. (n.d.). 

Hunter, M. (1984, August 4). LED THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL PROGRAMS. The New York Times.

About HRSA. Official web site of the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration. (2021, May 12).,innovative%2C%20high%2Dvalue%20programs.

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