Congratulations on being accepted to trade school! Taking the steps necessary to jumpstart your career takes time, determination, and most importantly, funding.
Extra years of schooling don’t come expense free, but fortunately there are plenty of opportunities for trade students to cut their costs while still keeping a quality education. We’ve broken down 5 of the most common ways to pay for trade school, so that you can focus on furthering your career.
1. Trade scholarships
Trade scholarships are one of the easiest and efficient ways to secure funding for your career. Vocational schools often advertise scholarships on their website as a means of helping talented students who lack the financial resources to still attend their programs. These scholarships typically only take a short amount of time, and offer a massive upside for potential applicants.
To help get you started, check out our Next Generation HVAC Scholarship, which offers 10 $2,500 scholarships to students enrolling or currently enrolled in an HVAC training program. For students not interested in HVAC, there’s no need to worry! Continue checking our scholarship page, as we plan to roll out scholarships across many trades industries.
Plenty of sites exist to help you sort scholarships by what will be applicable and easy for you to use. Sites like Scholly, FastWeb, Niche, and Scholarships.com all offer ways for you to filter financial aid opportunities by your trade program, career interests, and location; ensuring that you are guaranteed to find a scholarship that suits your needs. There’s no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for either! Casting a wide net will help you bring in the best chances of landing money towards your education.
2. Federal grants
The government also offers plenty of ways to earn financial aid, specifically in the form of federal grants. Grants are a great alternative to student loans, as they offer financial assistance to students without needing applicants to repay their funding at a later date, keeping you debt free.
If you’re applying or currently enrolled in a trade school, keep your eyes open for a Pell Grant. This type of grant awards up to $6,500 to applicants, and is available to undergraduate students who are part of undergraduate programs that lead to a degree or certificate. The catch to this aid package is that it only becomes an option if you can display that you have an exceptional financial need for it. Being above a certain income level will make you ineligible for the payment.
To receive the Pell Grant, start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The student and parents (if the student is a dependent) will be asked to provide their Social Security numbers, as well as income-based questions to determine their level of financial need. With any luck, you’ll secure funding for your tuition and other school resources.
3. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Another type of grant trade students can apply for is the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Similar to the Pell Grant, this supplemental funding provides low-income students with resources to cover their post secondary education costs. These funds are also dependent on what institution you’ll be attending for school, so be sure to check and see what your school offers in terms of federal funding. Depending on your financial needs, when you apply, the amount of aid you’re already receiving, and the availability of funds at your school, you can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year.
To apply for this grant, you’ll still need to fill out the FAFSA form, so it may be worth applying to the Pell Grant as well since you’re already taking the steps necessary.
4. Federal student loans
Outside of debt free financial aid, federal student loans offer the next best alternative to help you finance your trade education. Oftentimes student loans have a bad wrap, mainly because nobody wants to take on debt if they don’t have to. While it's important to acknowledge that student loans have to be repaid, the financial boost you receive from furthering your education can easily offset these costs in the long run. Think of student loan repayment as borrowing from your future self. If you actively account for the debt you’re taking on by saving money and setting aside funds, then your future payments become more manageable.
In comparison to private student loans, federal loans have an even greater advantage for you. Federal student loans have relatively low fixed interest rates, which means that you’ll know what you’ll need to pay over the life of the loan, without the interest rate going up. The good news is you won’t have to start repaying your loan until after school is completed, starting at around 6 months after graduation.
5. Private student loans
One of the last options available to help finance your education can be found through private student loans. You can obtain a private student loan through a private lender, such as a bank, credit union or state agency. The good news is that there’s no need to fill out the FAFSA to receive funding, as you’ll apply directly through the lender themselves. Although private student loans typically don’t have as beneficial terms as federal student loans (for example, interest rates tend to be higher) they can still help students who want to focus on school full-time instead of working and can cover other school expenses that scholarships, grants, and federal loans may not support, so it's a good option to have in your financial toolkit.
With any luck, you’ll be able to secure a few of these financial aid options and jumpstart your trade career today!