Though vocational school is often less time-consuming and less expensive than a traditional four year university, it is still important to know how to apply for scholarships. Vocational schools do, after all, still cost money, and most people don’t have the extra thousands of dollars needed just sitting in a savings account. In the past, scholarship money for vocational and trade schools has been scarce, but the recent surge in the need for skilled workers and attendance at these schools has loosened the purse strings of financial aid institutions. The trick is knowing where to look and how to apply.
The scholarships and grants that will be right for you will partly depend on the field you want to enter. There are few general grants intended for vocational school students. You will be able to find scholarships for most target specialized fields, like carpentry, cosmetology, or plumbing. There are, however, two scholarships for which all vocational students can apply: the Sallie Mae Unmet Need Scholarship and the Coca Cola Two Year Colleges Scholarship. Both are need-based scholarships meant for anyone attending a vocational or trade school.
You will be hard pressed to find federal scholarships for vocational school, which are based on merit. Need-based grants, however, are more common. The Pell Grant awards millions of dollars to students from financially disadvantaged households every year. And qualifying for a Pell Grant opens students to many more grant opportunities.
Many states also offer funding opportunities for college students, including those attending vocational school. Most of these awards are need based, so you don't have to worry that your grades are not good enough for merit based scholarships. For instance, California CalGrants program awards up to $9,500 per year for a student's educational costs.
In addition to need-based scholarships, there are also scholarships intended to specifically help minorities, women, students with disabilities, and students returning to school. Financial aid opportunities can be found at the school you are planning on attending, from trade or professional organizations of your intended career, or from the federal or state government.
Once you have identified the scholarships and grants that are right for you, you must know the steps necessary to apply. There is a defined process and it isn’t as easy as filling out an application for a specific scholarship.
First, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) even if you don’t intend on applying for federal money. You can fill out the FAFSA either online or by mail, but it is faster and more efficient to do it online.
A couple of months after you submit your FAFSA, you and the schools to which you applied will receive a report detailing your financial situation and how much federal aid you are entitled to. That information will help your school will decide how much they can offer you, if anything.
So don’t panic if you don’t have the money to go to vocational school. There are many funding opportunities and following these steps will ensure you can receive all you are entitled to.