Cost of CNA Classes & Certification

Compared to registered nurses and licensed practical nursing, CNA courses cost much lower.

So this is one of the benefits of entering the nursing field as a CNA.

These costs can still be quite challenging for many students.

If you are ready to dive into the career of a CNA but are worried about the costs, we have gathered the list of all hidden costs associated with becoming a CNA.

We have also listed some options to offset some of them.

Costs of CNA Training & Certification

CNA training programs are available through community colleges, vocational schools, the American Red Cross, and some medical facilities.

Tuition can be charged as a flat program fee or by credit hour.

The tuition costs vary by school and depend on the location as well as other factors.

However, tuition is not the only cost that comes with CNA training.

Except for that, there can be other expenses that students need to consider when figuring out the budget for their education.

They can include:

Program Supplies

Before starting classes, CNA students receive a list of supplies they have to buy.

They usually include a textbook or educational DVDs with curriculum, non-slip tennis shoes, uniform scrubs.

They also should have a stethoscope, a watch with a second hand, and note-taking supplies, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, highlighters, etc.

To know exactly which supplies you will need, you should check with your program, as well as know which you have to buy and which are included in the program fee.

Medical Examination

Before students can start working as a CNA, they need to complete a physical examination that proves they are fit enough to perform the tasks of a nursing assistant.

Besides, they need to pass a TB test and demonstrate proof of current immunizations before they start working with patients.

These costs can vary by state and by a person.

Criminal Background Check

In most states, CNAs are required to pass a criminal background check before they start working.

Some states or schools pay for it on students’ behalf.

Otherwise, it will cost students about $20-$40.

Certification Exam Fees

In each state, CNAs should pass a certification exam.

Sometimes, the certification fee can be included in the cost of the program.

The fee also varies from state to state, for example, in California, the written version of the NNAAP exam is $90 and $105 for the audio version.

Miscellaneous Program Fees

Besides the tuition, some costs may include additional fees, such as lab, application, or technology fees.

These fees vary by school, so you will need to check with your school which fees are associated with their CNA program.


This fee is not the one charged by your school, but you may face some transportation fees to get to and from your CNA classes.

If you are planning to use public transportation, you need to know its costs and include it in your budget.

If you are planning to drive, take into account the costs for gas, auto maintenance, parking, etc.


If you have kids, you will have to arrange proper childcare while you need to attend classes and take the certification exam.

Most schools don’t provide childcare onsite, also children aren’t allowed on clinical sites.

So you will have to ensure reliable childcare.

You can also consider having a backup plan in your primary childcare arrangements don’t work out, so you don’t have to miss classes.

Ways to Pay for CNA Training

Paying for the CNA program can seem overwhelming, there are options for payment that can lighten your burden and help you reach your career goals easier.

You can use the following ways to pay for your courses:


If you are able to pay cash for your tuition and fees, this is a great option.

In this case, you can go into your first job without debts from student loans.

Some schools arrange payment plans so the cost is spread over months or weeks, making it easier to pay for the program out-of-pocket.

Employer-Paid Training

Some medical facilities provide paid training programs for aspiring CNAs, where students receive the training for the certification exam and an employment offer for full-time work after they receive the certification.

It can be a great option to receive free education and secure a full-time job.

However, students are required to work at that institution for a specific time after their training.

Otherwise, they will have to repay the cost of their education.

Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Grants

The federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (previously known as the Workforce Investment Act) is a training and employment program.

It offers financial aid to students who qualify together with employment training programs.

Some CNA programs can be funded by the WIA.

You can check with the office of financial aid of your school, or find eligible programs on your own.

Medicare/Medicaid Tuition Reimbursement

Facilities that have Medicaid and Medicare funding are legally bound to covering the CNA training costs for their employees.

If you work in one of these facilities before you take your training, the costs will be covered by a Medicare/Medicaid facility within 12 months after you complete the program.

You will receive reimbursement for all or a part of your tuition costs.

Grants & Scholarships

Scholarships and grants are the types of financial aid that students don’t have to repay.

The first place to start looking for this type of assistance is the financial aid office of your school.

They have a list of scholarships and grants that you may qualify for.

The qualifications include such factors as demographic information (gender, ethnicity, etc.), financial need, and socioeconomic background.

To apply for many grants, you need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You can submit it online.

The FAFSA should determine your “Expected Family Contribution” (the amount you may be expected to contribute to your education).

Then they will help determine which grants or scholarships you may be eligible for.

Besides, there are multiple scholarship-finder websites which you can use to find scholarships for nursing programs.

It can take a while to apply for various scholarships since they will require personal statements and lengthy applications.

However, if they cover a significant share of your education costs, it will be a well-invested time.

Student Loans

Student loans are available through the federal government and private financial institutions.

While it can seem off-putting to get a debt, student loans are usually offered on fixed and low-interest rates, so they are easier and faster to pay off than other types of loans.

It is a very common way to pay for education and is typically the quickest way to secure the funding required to take classes.

The financial aid office of your school can also help you find student loans.