How Financial Aid for Trade School Works

trade school
In Germany, vocational training is largely the responsibility of employers, rather than technical colleges.
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In these difficult economic times, many high school and college-age students might be thinking about the practicality of spending $40,000 dollars a year for a liberal arts education when a job placement after graduation is uncertain, to say the least. If you like working with your hands or spending time outdoors, trade school might be a good option for you. In a trade school, you hone your skills to pursue careers ranging from anything from hairdressing to plumbing, from carpentry to massage therapy.

While trade schools are often less expensive than four-year universities and usually offer shorter programs, they still cost money. To attend trade school, you have to pay tuition, just as you would to attend college.


What are your options if you want to attend trade school but require financial aid to do so? You can apply for loans, receive grants or even win scholarships for trade school. But before you get the financial aid for trade school, you first need to consider several things that might affect how much aid you receive and in what form you'll receive it.

First, you should pick a career that most interests you. Many scholarships to trade school are offered for specific trades. For example, some scholarships might only be available to plumbers, while others are for welders.

Once you've decided on a trade, you should learn more about it or acquire some experience in the field. You might seek a mentor who has knowledge of the industry to give you useful information about the field or tell you about the best programs for your field. Sometimes, trade school scholarships only are offered for a specific school, so deciding on a particular program and learning all you can about that school might increase your chances of earning financial aid. Trade schools will be more likely to offer you a scholarship if you demonstrate interest and knowledge of your field.

On the next page, we'll take a look at the step-by-step process of applying for trade school financial aid.



Loans, Grants and Scholarships for Trade School

You've decided on a trade and have even investigated some potential schools and programs. What's next? In addition to applying for financial aid from a particular institution, you can also get financial aid from various companies and organizations. After you've investigated school-specific aid, you can look to organizations interested in supporting students with financial need, good academic credentials and an interest in trade school. While some of these scholarships are based on grades and tests scores, others take area of study, race, gender and career goals into account.

There are also general vocational scholarships available for particular trades. For example, Straightfoward Media offers a trade scholarship of $500 dollars, paid out four times a year. Home Depot sponsors students studying contracting, construction and HVAC and awards $5,000 in scholarship money.


In addition to scholarships, you also might be eligible for student loans through companies like Sallie Mae. If you're pursuing a career in beauty or cosmetology, flight school, computer training, culinary school, nurse aide, massage therapy, medical technician, dental hygienist, technical school, or MRI technical school, you could qualify for a Career Training Loan [source: Vocational and Trade School Scholarships].

Another option is to apply for federally funded financial aid. Check to see if your school accepts this type of aid and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the same form used by traditional four-year schools. If you qualify for aid through the FAFSA, you may receive both loans and grants to support you during your time in trade school. Stafford and Perkins Loans and Pell Grants are sometimes available for trade schools. Stafford Loans require no financial qualifications, and Perkins Loans are sponsored by your school at low interest rates. Pell Grants are awarded based on a student's financial situation.

Aside from scholarships, loans and grants, you also might want to consider your employer. Some employers are willing to reimburse you part or full tuition. For example, if you get a job working for a plumber, that plumber might be willing to pay some of your tuition if you commit to working for his or her company for a certain amount of time.

Check out the next page for more information about financial aid and trade school.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • "Career Training Loan." Sallie Mae.
  • "Frequently Asked Questions." United States Department of Educations.
  • Home Depot Trade School Scholarship. Financial Aid Finder.
  • "Trade and Vocational School Scholarships." Financial Aid Finder.
  • RWM: Vocational Schools Database.
  • United States Department of Labor.