Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund

Information about the NISF scholarship offered annually by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.​​

​​Where to Apply for the NISF Scholarship?

Inside the ORBS Portal ​you will arrive on the ORBS Portal Home Page. The NISF application is under "Other Applications" near the bottom. Click the apply button to the right to see those other applications. NISF Scholarship Fund Application will be in the ​list of other application types. If you do not see the application it may be temporarily offline. Check back soon.

NISF Application Location.PNG

Important Links​

It is strongly recommended that you carefully read through the Frequently Asked Questions below and NISF ​Application Instructions to determine eligibility and assist with the application ​process.​

Faster Response Via Email​​​​​

​Jason Oney, NISF Coordinator
or by phone at 502-380-6023

The Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund (NISF) provides scholarships to Kentucky residents attending approved LPN, ADN, BSN, or graduate nursing programs. NISF recipients are selected individually by the Board, using specified criteria outlined in regulation 201 KAR 20:390. The amount of each scholarship is $1,500 per semester, a max of $3,000 per year. NISF scholarship recipients may use the funds they are awarded for cost of living expenses—the award funds do not need to be directly applied to tuition or the cost of books. The funds are thus directly awarded to the recipients and not to their programs of nursing. After completing the ​program and obtaining licensure (if applicable), scholarship recipients must complete one year full-time work as a nurse in Kentucky for each year of study funded (or its equivalent).

All applications are due for receipt between January 1 and June 8, and are for the academic year commencing that fall.

The Kentucky Board of Nursing is currently working with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to implement the Optimal Regulatory Board System (ORBS), which provides on online portal for licensing, discipline, and scholarship applications. All NISF applications must be submitted through the ORBS nurse portal​.​

To provide an Official Transcript you can do so using the information below:

  • To provide an Official Transcript you can do so using the information below:
    • Preferred
      • ORBS Submission (Preferred) You can also get a copy of your transcript from your school, have them notarize it, scan that into ORBS as well. This is preferred.
    • Digital Copies
      • A digital official transcript sent to the KBN via services like Parchment:
    • Hard Copies
      • Copy Printed by school or mailed to you
      • Notarized by a Notary Republic
        • Typically provided by your school
      • Scanned in as a digital PDF
      • Then uploaded into the ORBS system during your NISF application

Inside the ORBS protal on the home page you land on when you first login, the NISF application is under "Other Applications" click the apply button to the right to see those other applications. ORBS Portal Location: 

NISF Application Location.PNG

The following requirements must be met in order to be considered for the award:

  • Kentucky resident
  • Accepted into and enrolled in a program of nursing: prelicensure (LPN, RN, BSN), BSN completion, or graduate program or certificate program
  • Enrolled in an academic term beginning after August of the application year and not completing coursework before November of that same year
  • Must be able to complete a minimum of 9 credit hours for graduate programs or 12 credit hours for prelicensure or BSN completion programs. The credit hours required can be spread across the fall, spring and summer semesters.

The credit hours must be for published requirements of the school of nursing, and not courses that are general education requirements or prerequisite to being granted acceptance to the school of nursing (in other words, you must have already been accepted to the school of nursing and enrolled/enrolling in the coursework it specifies)

Applications must be received between January 1 thru June 8 of each year. Applications submitted outside these dates are ineligible.

Please note: When you apply, you are applying for the upcoming academic year. Funding cannot be awarded retroactively. There are not “leftover” funds after award recipients are selected; in other words, the maximum amount of funding is always awarded.

The scholarship is for nursing students enrolled in coursework for the upcoming academic year. For example, applications submitted between January 1 through June 8, yearlyare for the academic year beginning Fall yearly​ through Spring yearly.

You must be enrolled for the coming fall semester. If you graduate before November, you are not eligible.

No, you must be admitted in the program in order to be eligible. The NISF does not cover an academic period where the student is completing prerequisites only.

Most online courses are accepted; however, this is situational. It is recommended that you review our webpage on online and out-of-state programs for general guidance.   Please note that, due to the annual cycle for receipt of NISF applications, this external URL will produce an “application unavailable” message until January 1, 2021.

  • If you are a high school graduate and have not attended a post-secondary institution, use your high school GPA or GED scores. We will use the copy of your official high school transcript or of your GED transcripts that you submit with your application to verify your GPA.
  • If you have attended a post secondary institution, use the GPA from grades received.  You will submit a copy of your official transcript from your current or previous post-secondary institution with your application. has a request portal and instructions that can be found on their website. The request process varies depending on if you received your GED before 2014 or after.

Submit a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR) received after the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application for the upcoming academic year has been completed and process. s​ provides ​guidance on how to access a copy of the Student Aid Report.

This report is usually 1-8 pages if received by mail, or 1-3 (or less) if processed via the Internet. The information on this report (EFC # and statement of Pell eligibility) is needed to determine financial need eligibility.

Submitting the SAR is optional. If you do decide to submit this documentation, please make sure you submit only the SAR for the upcoming academic year. For instance, if you are applying for the NISF for the 2021-2022 academic year, you must submit the 2021-2022 SAR, not your SAR from 2020-2021.

You are strongly encouraged to submit this documentation with your application if you are in need, as your application will receive preferential scoring.

No, you must submit a copy of the Student Aid Report (SAR) received after the FAFSA application has been completed and processed. The SAR is usually 1-8 pages if received by mail, or 1-3 pages if processed via the Internet. The information on this report (EFC # and statement of Pell eligibility) is needed to determine financial need eligibility. More information is available at for help with viewing the SAR. Your institution’s financial aid support services can also provide guidance in this area.​​

No, we do not accept any other documents other than the SAR as proof of financial need. Please do not send copies of tax records. However, you can apply without submitting a Student Aid Report (SAR).

The Board selects recipients using criteria from the application. Preference is given to applicants with financial need and currently licensed nurses as indicated in KRS 314.025(2). All applications received before the June 8 deadline are given the same consideration.

Each criteria used is given a different amount of ‘weight’, that is, each criteria has a different amount of points that may be awarded. The below breakdown, provided in a ‘rubric’ form below, comes directly from information provided in 201 KAR 20:390 Section 3

Licensure status:
Does the applicant have a current, valid LPN or RN license?
(Note: Points are awarded only once for this category)


Points awarded

Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Twenty (20) points

Registered nurses (RN)

Twenty (20) points

Financial need:
Has the applicant submitted a Student Aid Report from the FAFSA for the current year? What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from their FAFSA?

EFC: $0 to $5000

Thirty-five (35) points

EFC: $5001 to $10,000

Thirty (30) points

EFC of $10,001 to $20,000

Twenty-five (25) points

Potential for academic success
GPA: used for previous educational institution (high school, vocational school, college, etc) or for program in which you have already been completing courses
**GED: used if there is no other previous educational history, in lieu of high school GPA

GPA: 3.5 to 4.0 
**GED: 601 to 800 points

Twenty-five (25) points

GPA: 3.0 to 3.4
**GED: 501 to 600 points

Twenty (20) points

GPA: 2.5 to 2.9
**GED: 401 to 500 points

Fifteen (15) points

 Inside the ORBS Portal you can see the other application you submitted to confirm reciept to KBN. 

Do not leave any blanks on the application. When an application is received incomplete (e.g. no graduation date, GPA, or signature), if time permits, a notification is mailed requesting additional information. Any requested information must be received by the June 8 deadline. Otherwise, the application will stand as submitted (incomplete).

The Student Aid Report from FAFSA is an optional item to include. You are strongly encouraged to submit the SAR to receive preferential consideration given to those applicants with financial need.**

When the award process is completed, all notifications are sent to the email address on the application. This is routinely scheduled before the end of September. If your mailing address or e-mail address change after submission of your application, please provide written notification of this change. Please submit address changes or email address changes to the NISF Program Coordinator using our online contact form.

A lot happens between the time you receive notice of receiving an award to the time your award will actually arrive – it could be late October to November before your award arrives.

The process involves multiple steps and parties – including you, KBN, the state treasury, your educational institution, and your local postal service.

If selected for the award, you can expect the process to go as follows:

  1. In late September or early October, you will receive an award letter, contract, and promissory note by email. You must return the contract and promissory note by mail after completing all fields and getting it notarized.
    1. A deadline for their return will be stated on the award letter – do not disregard this deadline. Often people leave a field blank on their contract, or forget to get their promissory note notarized, so do leave extra time in case you may need to re-complete parts of these forms.
    2. While you are completing your side of the process, KBN will verify your continued enrollment with your program of nursing. Occasionally, you may receive emails from the NISF Program Coordinator should the program require you as their student to request the specified information.
  2. Request for award disbursement will be sent to the KBN accountant requesting the disbursement of the award from the treasury. This request will not occur until KBN has received:
    1. fully completed, signed, and notarized contract and promissory note
    2. enrollment verification completed by your program to confirm continued enrollment
  3. Once our accounting team submits the request to the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office, KBN awaits the treasury’s issuance of the checks.
  4. Once the award check is received at KBN, it is internally processed, verified, recorded, and then mailed to your home address you provided. Please remember to submit written notification of an address change ASAP if you move. The checks must travel from the treasury office in Frankfort to KBN’s office in Louisville.

While completing your program:

  • You will enroll in and complete a minimum of 12 credit hours (prelicensure or BSN completion) or 9 credit hours (graduate level programs) per academic year
  • You will maintain sufficient grades as to continue to successfully progress through your program
  • You must submit an application for continuation of funding for each year of need (does not apply to LPN programs) in order to be eligible for continued scholarship funds
  • You will continue to reside in Kentucky and notify us immediately of any changes in enrollment status or in your contact information (phone, email, or mailing address)

After graduation:

  • You will respond to requests for proof of program completion
  • You will obtain your licensure (where applicable)
  • You must work as a nurse in Kentucky full time, 1 year for each year of funding received
  • If you do not, you will be required to repay the amount of funding received plus any collection fees and the applicable interest, as stated in the contract and promissory note you completed at the start.
  • You will fulfill requests for employment verification forms at the start and end of your work obligation with KBN
  • Your work obligation begins immediately after you graduate (and obtain any applicable licensure), and can only be deferred based on the criteria specified in 201 KAR 20:390 8(4) (disability, major illness, or accident preventing program completion); 201 KAR 20:390 8(4) (one academic year of deferment may be requested when a student fails to achieve successful academic progression, but after that period repayment shall be due)  

After graduation from the program of nursing, a recipient must work full-time (part-time work is prorated) in Kentucky as a nurse for one year for each academic year funded. An Employment Verification Form will be e-mailed to your e-mail address on file following completion of the program. Your employer will complete the form and return it to the KBN office. You will have to submit this form at the beginning of your work obligation and again at the end of your work obligation. Failure to return the form will result in default of your NISF scholarship award.

No, you may work full-time anywhere in Kentucky as a nurse to fulfill the work obligation. Failure to complete the work obligation will result in default of your NISF scholarship award.

Yes, a recipient is eligible if successful academic progression is maintained to continue in the nursing program. You must also submit an application annually for receipt between January 1 and June 8 to apply for continuation.

Repayment would be necessary if you are unable to complete the program of nursing, never obtain licensure in Kentucky, or you do not complete the work obligation. This would be considered in default status. The repayment amount would be the amount of the scholarship plus accrued interest.

The current interest rate for repayment is 8%.

KBN will work directly with you to determine a one-time lump sum or monthly payment plan. If the terms of the payment plan are not met, your account will be turned over to the Kentucky Department of Revenue. That agency is authorized to issue wage garnishments, bank levies, tax refund interception, credit bureau reporting, etc., and will also add a reasonable collection fee.

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