The cost of four-year bachelor degrees is constantly on the rise, while job prospects for a liberal arts education seem to be constantly falling. This trend has prompted many people to consider an education and a career in the trades instead. While trade schools are a great alternative to four-year universities, they nevertheless do still come with tuition costs that may be difficult for you to pay. If you are interested in trades training and are looking for scholarships and financial aid, then there four main potential sources of funding that you should be looking at:
1) Financial Aid from Your Institution
One of the first things to do when looking for scholarships is to find out what sort of financial aid is available directly from your community college or vocational school. You should speak to someone from the Financial Aid or Admissions office so that they can help connect you with the right resources. Even if your school’s website or brochure doesn’t mention any scholarships, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they have nothing available or can’t assist you with finding funding. It is always best to ask.
2) Federally Funded Financial Aid
Federally funded aid is another good avenue to check out if you are a trades student. You should first find out if your school accepts the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which can provide you with both grants and loans during your time at school. You may even be eligible for further federal funding through the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, the Tech Prep Education Program, and the Advanced Technological Education program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.
These programs are all great for students who are attending 2-year trade colleges. Make sure that you check out all of your options and you may be able to secure enough federal funding to help you out immensely with tuition cost.
3) Financial Aid from Your Employer
Another potential source of student aid may be directly through your current or future employer. Many trade companies offer to pay some tuition costs in order to ensure that they can get and keep skilled workers. For example, you may agree to work for a plumbing company for a certain amount of time after you finish your training, and in return that company will pay for some of your tuition. While your employer likely won’t cover everything, it can be a perfect complement to the scholarship sources already described above. Plus, you’ll already have guaranteed yourself a job after you finish your training.
4) Independent Commercial Funding
While the above three options should be your main choices for student aid, they may not always cover your tuition completely. In this case you can also take a look at independent commercial funding. For example, Sallie Mae has a career training loan for students enrolled at technical schools. Home Depot also offers a nice $5,000 scholarship to students who are receiving training in construction, HVAC, or contracting.