Attending trade school helps jump-start your career in a specific trade, but it can be expensive if you do not have any grants to help. Grants are the best type of student financial aid because you do not have to work to get them and you do not have to repay them. Look for trade school grants from a variety of sources from the federal government all the way down to the specific school you are looking to attend.
The federal government offers two major types of grants to students enrolled in trade school. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident, be attending an accredited school, and be pursuing a degree or certificate in a government-approved program. If you are unsure of whether your school and program qualify, ask the administration if students in your program are eligible to receive Title IV government financial aid.
Apply for federal financial aid by filling out the FAFSA on the U.S. Department of Education website. If the government determines that you have significant financial need, you can receive a Pell Grant of up to $5,550 per year. In addition, some students receive the FSEOG Grant, which is for up to $4,000 more, in addition to the Pell Grant. Your trade school will let you know if you receive either of these grants.
Some states offer grant programs to help students pursing technical or trade school education. In most cases, the grants are available to the same set of students who qualify for federal grants, and you apply by filling out the FAFSA. Some states also offer separate grant programs for students whose schools or degree programs do not qualify for federal financial aid. To find out if this applies in your state, ask your trade school's financial aid office about information on applying for state grants for your education.
Employers in high-need fields often help pay for the education of promising employees. This is especially true if you already have work history with the employer, have performed well, and are looking to advance in the field. The employer may fully or partially sponsor your trade school education and promise you a better-paying job at the company when you are done. Trade organizations in your state also sometimes have grants available to help students pursuing an education in the field. These grants are often competitive and are based on your academic merits and commitment to the field.
The trade school itself often has some financial aid programs available for students with strong qualifications and significant financial need. Schools may use their profits to subsidize grants for other students or use state funds to help fill their classes with qualified students. Ask the administration at the school about filling out a financial aid application. Answer all questions on the application accurately because the school may require verification before awarding the grant, especially if it is based on financial need.