The all-in cost of education is a critical consideration for any potential nursing school student. Tuition is the largest expense category, and this cost will vary significantly from one institution to another. Most private colleges have higher tuition rates than public schools at in-state costs. Community colleges are frequently the least expensive option, although their program offerings are limited to two-year associate's degrees and shorter-length certificates. In this vein, program length is also an important driver of the all-in cost -- not only bachelor's vs. associate's vs. certificate, but also traditional vs. accelerated vs. evening / weekend classes.

You’ll incur significant expenses beyond tuition as well. Living expenses are the most critical category to budget accurately; you can often save critical funds by living off-campus or commuting from home. Textbooks can also be very expensive, especially in scientific fields; they often cost $1,000 or more per semester when all is said and done.

Thankfully, this significant upfront investment in your nursing education will pay dividends when you enter the workforce. In the DC area, licensed practical nurses earn an average annual salary of $48,590. Registered nurses earn $77,550 per year, and nurse practitioners (who hold a master's degree in nursing) earn $81,560 annually. This increased earnings power enables nursing school graduates to repay their educational debt and start saving for the future.

Armed with this knowledge, we've compiled a list of the best nursing schools in the DC area, ordered from most to least expensive.