State Aid, Institutional Aid and Scholarships
Most states offer need-based grants or scholarships. The eligibility requirements for need-based scholarships are sometimes more flexible than federal grants. If you think you were close to qualifying for Pell Grant but didn't quite meet the criteria, or if you qualified for a Pell Grant but would like to find additional aid as well, look into a need-based scholarship. Eligibility requirements and the types of aid offered by states vary. Check with your vocational or technical college to see what sort of state aid is available through your school.
In addition, some institutions also offer financial aid, often in the form of scholarships, which does not need to be repaid. For instance, Rockingham Community College in Wentworth, N.C., offers the Michael Mansfield scholarship to students enrolled in the information systems technology program or a vocational field related to manufacturing [source: NextStudent]. Check with your school to see which institution-specific scholarships might be available to you.
Businesses, foundations, community groups, churches and almost every imaginable type of organization also offer scholarships. These gifts of money are given to students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, students from particular regions, students with financial need and for many other reasons. Free databases, such as FastWeb.com, match parents and students with dozens of applicable scholarships. Here are a few examples of the many scholarships available specifically to students pursuing vocational education:
- American Standard Companies Scholarship: a $2,500 award for students enrolled in a qualified plumbing-heating-cooling-contractors (PHCC) program
- Logan Nainoa Fujimoto Memorial Scholarship: a variable award available to Hawaiian students enrolled in an accredited program in Hawaii or the continental United States
- Mildred Sorensen National Scholarship: a $750 award for Danish Sisterhood of America members or their children enrolled in a technical/vocational program
Hunting for scholarships takes dedication and research. Be persistent and you may well discover a scholarship tailor-made for your situation or background. You aren't always required to fill out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) when applying for scholarships; however, most sources strongly recommend you do, since most aid -- both federal and nonfederal -- requires a completed FAFSA.
People looking to pursue a specific career path, which may or may not require a degree or certificate at a vocational school or technical college, may also benefit from federal job training programs, such as registered apprenticeships, Job Corps programs and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) training. Read on to find out how these programs work.