Twenty-seven graduate students at the UCF College of Nursing will have less of a financial burden while pursuing their studies thanks to two competitive federal grants.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently awarded the college a $350,000 Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) grant and a $33,000 Nurse Faculty Loan Program grant. Both federal grants are aimed at expanding the health care workforce by increasing advanced practice nurses and addressing the faculty shortage to educate future nurses, two recommendations in the Institute of Medicine’s landmark “The Future of Nursing” report.

“Our vision is to positively impact every aspect of the health professional’s career, from education and training to service,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “These awards will increase the number of health professionals providing quality care to the nation’s most vulnerable populations.”

UCF is one of only two universities in the state to receive a 2016 HRSA AENT grant, which was created to increase the number of advanced practice nurses trained as primary care providers specifically in rural and underserved communities. The grant will support tuition and fees for 22 scholars who are enrolled in either the Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner programs beginning Fall 2016. This is the third consecutive year the college has received this competitive grant, which has already supported 55 students in their studies.

“The AENT grant has allowed me to work fewer hours and devote more time to my academic, clinical and volunteer activities in order to become a more well-rounded nurse practitioner,” said Michael Lagoe, AENT grant recipient and DNP family nurse practitioner student. Lagoe plans to work full-time in a primary care setting in an underserved community upon graduation in August 2017.

“As a primary care scholar, I have been able to assist and learn from several clinics who provide health care services to the medically underserved,” said fellow AENT grant recipient and DNP family nurse practitioner student Katrina Dever. “After graduation, I plan to continue my work at a federally qualified health center as a primary care provider for medically underserved and uninsured.”

Through the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, the college will be able to provide a loan to qualifying PhD students that would cover 100 percent of their tuition, books and related expenses. After graduation, the students would have 85 percent of the loan forgiven if they work full time as an educator at an accredited college or nursing program for at least four years. This is the second year the college has been able to offer this program, initially funding five PhD students and now able to support an additional five PhD students.