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What is the Bridging Educational Grant in Nursing (BEGIN) program?

In partnership with the Government of Ontario, WeRPN’s BEGIN program builds bridges for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) to explore new professional pathways in the Long-Term Care (LTC) and Home and Community Care (HCC) sectors in Ontario. BEGIN provides tuition reimbursements to eligible students enrolled in PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, and PSW-RN programs, removing the financial barriers for them to invest in their future.

How much funding can I receive?

Eligible students enrolled in a PSW-RPN program can receive a tuition reimbursement of up to $6,000 per year (maximum of $15,000).

Eligible students enrolled in a RPN-RN or PSW-RN program can receive a tuition reimbursement of up to $10,000 per year (maximum of $30,000).

Some participants (based on demonstrated need) may qualify for additional funding up to $5,000 per year while enrolled. This assists with costs, such as: caring for dependents, tutoring and travel.

What is covered in the tuition reimbursement?

Tuition and mandatory ancillary fees are covered up to the maximum amount per year.

Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply?

The BEGIN Program is open to Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) who are currently enrolled in accredited and approved Ontario Colleges and Universities (PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, or PSW-RN). Applicants must have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident/landed immigrant status, reside in Ontario, and be willing to work in Long-Term Care or Home and Community Care sectors for a period of time after graduation.

Can I apply if I’ve already started a bridging program?

Yes, if you’re already enrolled in an approved and accredited PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, or PSW-RN program, you can apply to BEGIN, no matter how close to graduation.

If I applied to the Nursing Education Initiative (NEI) can I still apply to BEGIN?

Yes, any RPN can apply to BEGIN for tuition reimbursement if they are enrolled in an accredited RPN-RN bridging program, even if they have already applied to NEI. For more information on the NEI program, click here

I’m interested and/or planning to enroll in a bridging program. Am I eligible to apply for the BEGIN program?

It’s exciting to hear you’re interested in exploring new nursing pathways. While you aren’t eligible to apply for BEGIN today since you’re not yet enrolled, the good news is the program is open until March 31, 2026. As long as you are on track to graduate by that date, you may be eligible for BEGIN.

We’d love to tell you more about how you can qualify for BEGIN tuition reimbursements to help cover the cost of going back to school. Click here to learn more.

I’m a PSW or an RPN who hasn’t been accepted to a bridging program, but am taking nursing education courses. Am I eligible for the BEGIN tuition grants?

No. BEGIN is a tuition reimbursement program for PSWs or RPNs enrolled in an accredited PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, or PSW-RN program, not an overall nursing education program.

Do I need to be working in LTC or HCC to apply for the BEGIN program?

No. However, upon graduation, you’ll commit to one year of employment in the LTC or HCC sector in Ontario for every year, or portion of a year, you received funding.

Can I work in another sector as part of my post-graduation employment commitment?

No. The BEGIN program is intended only for PSWs and RPNs looking to expand their careers with new pathways in the Long-Term Care (LTC) and Home and Community Care (HCC) sectors in Ontario. After graduating, program participants agree to commit to a year of employment in either the LTC or HCC sectors, for every year, or portion of a year, which BEGIN funding was received.

Am I eligible if I have been accepted into a program (either online or in-person) at a university/college in another province or country?

No. To be eligible for the BEGIN program you must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program in an Ontario university or college, be a Canadian citizen, or permanent resident/landed immigrant and reside in Ontario.

Application

How do I apply? What documents do I need to provide?
When can I apply?

You can apply once you’ve been enrolled in or have been accepted into an accredited PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, or PSW-RN program in Ontario.

If you’re not currently enrolled but interested in learning about how BEGIN can help you bridge, click here. The BEGIN program is open until March 31, 2026.

I’m entering a multi-year PSW-RPN, RPN-RN, or PSW-RN program. Do I have to re-apply to BEGIN each year?

No. Once you’re accepted, you don’t need to apply each year. However, each year you need to submit proof of paid tuition fees and proof of enrollment.

I’m having trouble applying. What should I do?

If you’re having issues accessing your account, try to login to your BEGIN account using your username and select forgot password to reset. For any other issues, please email info@begin.werpn.com for assistance.

Why did I receive a T4A slip?

By law, recipients of funding from the Bridging Educational Grant in Nursing (BEGIN) program are to be issued T4A information. This information is also reported to the Canada Revenue Agency. The T4A will outline the total funding issued during the calendar year. For information about Canadian income tax law please contact the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 or visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca.

Additional Assistance (Wraparound Support)

What additional assistance is available?

BEGIN participants who demonstrate financial need may also qualify for wraparound support of up to $5,000 per year while enrolled. This support is intended to assist with costs such as care for dependents, tutoring, and travel incurred while completing your educational program. Please note funding is not guaranteed.

Who is eligible to apply for wraparound support?

All participants of the BEGIN program are eligible to apply. Only those with demonstrated need may qualify.

When can I apply for wraparound support?

You must have been accepted into the BEGIN program in order to apply for wraparound support. Even if you’re about to graduate, you may still apply.

I’m entering a multi-year bridging program. Is wraparound support available for multiple years? Do I have to re-apply for additional assistance each year?

Yes, wraparound support is available for multiple years. While you don’t have to reapply for the BEGIN program tuition reimbursements every year, you will need to re-apply for the additional financial support and demonstrate your continued need.

If I applied to the Nursing Education Initiative (NEI), can I still apply for wraparound support?

Yes. If you have already received NEI funding, you can still apply for BEGIN funding and wraparound support.

If I don’t graduate, will I have to pay back the wraparound support?

Yes.

Does receiving wraparound support extend my post-graduation employment commitment?

No.

Does BEGIN cover the cost of NCLEX and REx-PN exams?

While BEGIN doesn’t cover the cost of the exams, all BEGIN applicants will have access to a free online NCLEX or REx-PN exam preparation course.

Could receiving BEGIN funding and/or wraparound support affect OSAP or other financial aid I am receiving?

If you have questions on how your OSAP funding may be impacted, or on what information you may need to provide to OSAP if you are approved for BEGIN support, you should contact the financial aid office at your postsecondary institution.

To get an idea of how tuition grants could inform OSAP funding, use the self-directed OSAP Aid Estimator tool here. We suggest completing the form without tuition grants listed and then completing a second form with your anticipated BEGIN tuition reimbursement amount for comparison.

For reference, eligible PSW-RPN students can receive up to $6,000 per year and eligible RPN-RN and PSW-RN students can receive up to $10,000 per year. Please verify on your university/college website the tuition fees for the upcoming year to determine the amount you may be eligible to receive in BEGIN grants.

Unlike loans, you do not need to pay back BEGIN tuition reimbursement grants, as long as you fulfill your Return of Service.

Employment Commitment (Return of Service)

What is the post-graduation employment commitment? What are the conditions?

Also known as a Return of Service, it’s an agreement that you will be asked to sign indicating that you commit to one year of full-time employment in your new designation in either the Long-Term Care or Home and Community Care sectors in Ontario for every year you receive BEGIN funding (up to three years).

For example, if you receive two years of funding, you will be required to commit two years of employment in one of these two sectors. For years in which you receive funding for only a portion of that year, you’ll be required to complete one full year of employment post-graduation.

Will I be paid during the post-graduation employment commitment?

Yes, the pay process is no different from any other job.

Will I have to work in the LTC or HCC sectors in Ontario after I complete my post-graduation employment commitment?

No. You are free to work anywhere once your commitment is completed.

How long after graduation do I have before I need to start my BEGIN employment commitment?

12 months.

How will I know when my post-graduation employment commitment is over?

The BEGIN Team will work with you and your employer to track the amount of time you work during the commitment period. Once you’ve completed your commitment, you will receive a formal notification that you have fulfilled the terms of your agreement.

What happens if I don’t complete my post-graduation employment commitment?

You’ll have to pay back in full the tuition grants and wraparound support you’ve received. However, if you partially complete your post-graduation employment commitment, the remaining years become repayable on a prorated basis. For example, if your commitment is three years and you complete one, then you’ll repay the tuition grants and any wraparound support received for two.

If I don’t graduate, will I have to pay back the tuition grants?

Yes. You will need to pay back the tuition grants and any applicable interest. Interest charges will start to accrue 30 days after the person leaves the BEGIN program for whatever reason, without completing the post-graduation employment commitment.

I have less than one year remaining in my program. If I receive tuition grants, how long will my post-graduation employment commitment be?

One year.

Where can I learn more about career opportunities in the Long-Term Care or Home and Community Care sectors?

There are a variety of ways to learn about opportunities in these sectors.

A LTC/HCC job board will be available exclusively to BEGIN applicants. Please sign in to view the listings.

For those interested in a career in Long-Term Care, please search the job ads at Advantage Ontario and Ontario Long-Term Care Association.

For those interested in a career in Home and Community Care, please search home care agencies in your area, for example: Spectrum, SE Health, Closing the Gap, VHA and Paramed.

Are all LTC and HCC centres eligible for the post-graduation employment commitment?

The majority of LTC and HCC workplaces are eligible places of employment for BEGIN candidates. An eligible LTC home is one with licensed beds. Eligible HCC companies are those with service contracts with HCCSS – Home and Community Care Support Services. Staffing agencies are not eligible employers. If you have any questions, please reach out to info@begin.werpn.com.

What if I cannot find a FT position?

BEGIN has established an online portal/job board to connect participants with increased FT employment opportunities in the Long-Term Care (LTC) and Home and Community Care (HCC) sectors in Ontario. Please sign in to view the listings

Educators

What is covered in the tuition reimbursement?

Tuition and mandatory ancillary fees are covered up to the maximum amount per year.

Which colleges and universities qualify for BEGIN?

Accredited Ontario College and University Nursing Programs. Please use this link for a list of approved Practical Nursing Programs in Ontario and this link for approved Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.

My students have questions about BEGIN. What can I share with them?

Please refer anyone interested in the BEGIN program to begin.werpn.com. They can also email info@begin.werpn.com for more information.

A BEGIN applicant asked me to complete a reference. What is required of me?

The educator reference is a quick and easy online reference sent via email to a former or current educator of a BEGIN applicant. The reference should take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

I know a student who’s interested in BEGIN but they aren’t currently enrolled. What information can I provide them?

While applicants must have been accepted into an accredited nursing program when they apply to BEGIN to be eligible, the program is open until March 31, 2026. WeRPN can offer guidance to those who are interested in returning to school but are unsure of where to start. Please encourage anyone who is looking for more information to contact info@begin.werpn.com or sign-up here to receive more information.

Employers

What is the benefit of being a BEGIN employer?

Employers will have access to a pool of eager graduates who have committed to working in either the Long-Term Care or Home and Community Care sectors. Through their participation in the program, these prospective employees also have access to WeRPN resources to support them on their journey in nursing including a New Graduate workshop and mentorship program.

Additionally, BEGIN helps foster career growth and educational development, expand your team’s knowledge and skills, and supports overall recruitment and retention efforts.

My employees are interested in completing a bridging program. Are they able to take part in BEGIN and continue working?

Absolutely. BEGIN participants may enroll in an eligible nursing program on a full-time or part-time basis, providing them with the flexibility to continue their employment. BEGIN participants must be on track to graduate from their program by the program end date of March 31, 2026.

A BEGIN applicant asked me to complete a reference. What is required of me?

The employer reference is a quick and easy online reference sent via email to a former or current employer, of a BEGIN applicant. The reference will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

What is the post-graduation employment commitment (Return of Service)? What are the conditions?

Upon graduation, students commit to one year of employment in the LTC or HCC sector in Ontario for every year they receive funding (up to three years). For example, if a student received two years of funding, they would commit to two years of employment. For years in which they receive funding for a portion of that year, they will be required to complete a full year of employment post-graduation (Return of Service).

How long after graduation will a BEGIN participant have before they need to start their BEGIN employment commitment?

1 Year after program completion.

How will we know when their post-graduation employment commitment is over?

The BEGIN team and employee will communicate the start and completion date for the Return of Service.

What happens if a BEGIN participant doesn’t complete their post-graduation employment commitment?

If they are unable to complete their Return of Service in an Ontario Long-Term Care or Home and Community Care employer, the individual will be required to repay the tuition grant plus any interest accrued to WeRPN.

I manage a facility that’s not LTC/HCC. Can a BEGIN participant work in another sector as part of their post-graduation employment commitment?

No. The BEGIN program is specifically aimed at supporting recruitment and retention in LTC and HCC. As part of this program, students must commit to working in these sectors to obtain their tuition reimbursement.