Trade School Student Loans
How to Fast-Track Your Career
Higher education encompasses a vast array of career training options, including traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programs and graduate school pursuits. Not everyone embraces the standard approach; nor does every profession require it. Students seeking trade school education gravitate to one or two-year programs that provide adequate training, and then move them to the workforce quickly
Vocational schools and technical colleges focus on shorter programs that prepare students for work in various trades. And while some programs appear more affordable than those found at four-year universities, trade school creates significant financial considerations for students who attend. Traditional financial aid programs are often structured for bachelor’s degree candidates, rather than trade-oriented students; so some large-scale efforts are off the mark for vocational training.
While the deck seems stacked in favor of four-year students, there are significant financial aid opportunities available that serve students pursuing diplomas, certificates, and associate’s degrees. Trade organizations, individual states and campus-specific sources each provide funding for vocational education. Grants and scholarships provide trade school aid that does not require repayment, and many students also take loans to manage educational expenses.
Popular Trade School Educational Programs
Trades include disciplines like computer networking and programming, cosmetology, culinary arts - as well as professions like paralegal and home inspector. Automotive repair and construction are still common areas of study at trade schools, but today’s educational opportunities also include study tracks that prepare graduates for careers in:
- Culinary Arts
- Real Estate
- Auto Body and Mechanics
- Aviation Mechanics
- Commercial & Industrial Maintenance
- Construction & Building
- Diesel Mechanics
- Electrician Trade
- Gardening/Landscape Design
- HVAC Training
- Marine & Watercraft
- Mechanical Drafting
- Motorcycle Repair
- Truck Driving
Whether establishing educational credentials for a primary career in the trades, or retraining in mid-life to increase individual economic opportunity, students usually require financial resources that exceed cash on hand. Trade school loans help students meet educational obligations; especially adult learners who are juggling additional responsibilities.
Limits to Federal and Alternative Loan Programs
The guide to federal student aid, Funding Your Education provides the most up-to-date information regarding loans and grants issued by the U.S. Government. Campus financial aid administrators are also well-versed on which federal assistance is applicable to trade school education.
Generally, federal aid is administered at participating accredited institutions of higher learning. Not all colleges, trade schools, universities and technical institutes participate in federal student assistance programs, so those counting on aid from the Dept. of Education must attend participating schools.
Conversely, not all educational programs qualify to receive funding from the Federal Government. Only accredited institutions are serviced by government student assistance efforts, so check your trade school’s status before counting on federal loans. Provided you and your school meet eligibility requirements, the first step toward securing federal assistance is to file a standardized application. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) captures all government-sponsored aid initiatives. File it on time, and your application is considered for whatever programs are relevant to your educational situation.
The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program issues student loans directly from the U.S.Department of Education. Qualified students enjoy lower-than-market interest rates, which are fixed for the duration of the loans. Check with financial aid administrators at your school, to see how your educational program fits-in with Federal Direct lending.
Standard Private Loans Assist Trade School Students
Although private student loans are sometimes viewed as last resorts, independent commercial funding provides a useful alternative when other forms of financial aid run short. And private loans assist students of higher education – at all levels. Trade schools and technical colleges offering associate’s degrees, certificates and diplomas qualify for undergraduate loans from Sallie Mae.
Smart Option Loans are designed for students following traditional four-year educational paths, at degree-granting universities. But Sallie Mae specifically addresses the needs of trade school students with Career Training Smart Option Loans. This important private resource can be applied to vocational education - even at non degree-granting schools. Participants enjoy:
- Competitive interest rates
- Choice of repayment plans that provide flexible options during and after school
- Rewards for making on-time payments
- Financing for up to 100% of school-approved expenses
- No pre-payment penalties
School-Specific Assistance and State Aid for Trade Students
Horry Georgetown Technical School joins other trade institutions by offering financial assistance to needy students. Scholarship programs and state-specific funding issued by the State of South Carolina are used to tackle trade school debt. State loans are available, as well as a campus payment plan, that allows students to spread tuition payments across the semester.
Atlanta Technical College offers assistance to students pursuing loans for tuition. The college provides a checklist for landing student loans, which originate from the Federal Government. Students seeking loans must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify.
South Carolina Student Loan Program makes education possible for students who are under-funded. Initiatives like the organization’s Palmetto Assistance Loans (PAL) offer competitive fixed-interest alternatives. Since the program is not government-guaranteed, participants under the age of 24 require loan cosigners, in order to qualify. Loan proceeds are applied to tuition, books, fees, room and board, lab supplies, transportation and computer expenses.
Tennessee Technical Institute offers the standard stable of federal loan programs, but the school also puts forth a unique loan called the “University Loan”. The alternative funding acts as a bridge loan for students unprepared to pay their tuition on the first day of school. Once financial aid is disbursed, participants settle-up on University Loan debt.
New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority provides supplemental funding for students, when other forms of financial aid run dry. NJCLASS Loans include these features:
- Competitive interest rates
- Consistent rates regardless of credit history
- Parents may borrow, as well as students
- Flexible repayment options over 10-20 years
To qualify for NJCLASS loans, students must:
- Be citizens of the U.S.
- Be residents of New Jersey or out-of-state residents attending approved NJ schools
- Be enrolled at least half-time
- Exhibit academic progress
- File FAFSA
Pulaski Technical College offers In-school deferment on student loans, provided half-time enrollment is maintained.
In Ohio, The Canton Student Loan Foundation offers loans to qualified applicants – including trade school students. The loan program specifically benefits students from Stark County. Funds are awarded from a revolving pool of resources established by the founders, and continually replenished with new donations and student loan repayments. Since its inception, the organization has disbursed over $27 million worth of student assistance to almost 5000 Stark County graduates.
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- Sallie Mae
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