When planning a nursing education path, prospective students often focus on the "here and now" and place cost at the top of their considerations. And while cost certainly is an important factor, we encourage nursing students to think of this education as an investment. In investing, the best strategies involve a long-term outlook. Nursing is no different. Though costs may be considerable in the short term, the return on investment can be considerable as well.

Let’s examine the path to becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) specializing in anesthesia. We'll investigate the up-front costs and long-term benefits of this course.

The cost of nursing education varies depending upon the length of the program (certificate vs. associate’s degree vs. bachelor’s degree vs. master’s degree) and type of institution attended (public or private). When examining the cost of specific programs, keep in mind that these figures include the tuition and fees associated with attending as well as books and supplies. These figures do not include housing and other living expenses; you'll need to add these costs to get the full picture. Another factor to consider when weighing options is in-state vs. out-of-state tuition. For a Georgia resident, a master's degree program that leads to licensure as a nurse anesthetist will cost ~$57,000 (total tuition, fees, books, and supplies accumulated over the entire program). For an out-of-state resident, the same program costs over $108,000. So you can see the benefits of attending a program in the state where you reside.

This educational cost to become a nurse anesthetist may seem daunting at first, but consider what happens after graduation. Nurse anesthetists in Georgia earn an average annual salary of $135,560. Does the return on investment outweigh the cost of the education? Indeed. Even if you spend $100,000 on your education (not only tuition, fees, and books but also housing, living expenses, and incidentals) over the course of 4-6 years, your incremental income will quickly surpass this cost.

So be mindful of the short-term costs of a nursing program, but also weigh the long-term returns that this program will provide. And remember, price is not always an indicator of the quality of education offered. Price can also reflect where each school gets its primary funding (public vs. private).

To help you get started on the path to a nursing degree, we’ve compiled below a list of Georgia's nursing schools and organized them from most expensive to least expensive.