Financial Aid & Scholarships

Credit: Benjamin Lester

You can make your course a reality with various financial aid options.

Browse the tabs below to find the option that’s best for you.


Every year, NOLS awards more than $1.9 million in need-based scholarships. Our scholarships take into account unusual expenses, and special or changing circumstances. Scholarships can range from a small portion to larger amounts of the course cost. 
Need-based scholarships are still available for courses starting after September 1, 2018.
NOLS accepts and reviews scholarship applications on a rolling basis. We recommend applying for financial aid early, as our scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Please use the timeframe below as a guide for when to apply:

For Fall courses: Apply by June 1 
(Courses beginning Sept. 1- Dec. 31)
For Spring courses: Apply by November 1
(Courses beginning Jan. 1- Apr. 30)  
For Summer courses: Apply by January 1
(Courses beginning May 1- Aug. 31)

You are eligible to use your 529 College Savings Plan or AmeriCorps Education Award to cover the costs of your course, thanks to NOLS’ partnership with Western State Colorado University.

For a semester or yearlong expedition, NOLS will match your education award up to $2,000 dollars. For any other expedition or wilderness medicine course, you can apply your award toward the cost of your course, just like a scholarship. We also encourage you to use additional financial aid options, like applying for NOLS scholarships or using Veterans Benefits.


Are you currently attending a college or university? Do you use federal financial aid or loans to help cover the tuition and fees? 

You’re not alone!

NOLS understands that many students utilize these options to make college or university a possibility for them, and we want you to have access to those funds for your NOLS course.

NOLS cannot accept federal aid or loans directly, as we are not a Title IV, degree-granting institution, but we do offer the possibility of a consortium agreement to make the transfer of this aid possible.


Use your Veterans Benefits to take a NOLS course

NOLS is not a traditional school, and your benefits work a bit differently here than they do at other universities or colleges. Benefits can be used for NOLS according to the Title 38 United States Code.

VA Benefits are eligible for:

We're honored you’re looking at NOLS for your next step! 

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“I went backpacking for the first time when I was 13 years old and immediately fell in love with it. Soon after that, I heard of NOLS and dreamt of being able to attend one of their trips, and 7 years later I was finally able to attend. By donating to this scholarship, you helped me achieve a goal that I have had since I was 13 years old and have given me an opportunity that I will never forget.”

- Camden McMillan, Pacific Northwest Backpacking

Credit: Alexis Alloway