Trade School Grants
Dreaming of a career in Culinary Arts? Maybe managing your own auto mechanics garage fuels your thoughts or you would love to become an electrician.
In recent years, interest in trade school education has grown. The increased need for workers skilled in the trades, as well as the current economic downturn have resulted in larger numbers of students seeking out vocational and trade education.
Trade schools encompass a wide variety of hands-on education, from HVAC to carpentry to cosmetology. In the past, financial aid has been hard to come by for these areas of study, but that is no longer the case. Today, aid opportunities abound for those who have the desire to attend trade school. One of the greatest of these aid opportunities come in the form of trade school grants.
Trade School Grants
Receiving a trade school grant is not the same thing as obtaining a student loan or being awarded a scholarship. Student loans are exactly what their name implies; they are loans which need to be repaid— with interest. Scholarships do not require repayment, but are usually based on evidence of superior academic achievement.
Grants, on the other hand, are bestowed as free, no-strings-attached money. Economic need is the typical basis on which they are awarded. Sorting through the different categories of grants requires both time and effort, but it is time and effort well spent. The payoff can be lucrative.
What Kinds of Trade School Grants Are Available?
There is a variety of grants available. Some of the most common:
- Need-based grants
- Grants for women
- Low income grants
- Returning grants
- Minority grants
- Disabilities grants
Who Are They Available From?
Those who specialize in trades such as HVAC, plumbing, carpentry, and auto mechanics, among the many career choices available to trade school students, may pursue their education at a community college, a technical school, or a university at an undergraduate or graduate level.
Good sources for trade school grants, for students on the path of a particular trade career, are:
- Community and technical colleges—both local and regional
- Trade and professional organizations
- State and federal government
Eligibility for need-based grants takes several factors into consideration such as:
- Number of dependents in the family
- Your student status
- Family’s expected financial contribution (EFC)
- How many dependent family members attend college or other post secondary education
- Other family assets besides income
Income may or may not be the most important determinant in the assessment of eligibility for need-based grants. There are students who come from families with substantial income that qualify for aid due to other reasons.
Sources of Need-Based Grants
The federal government is the source of most need-based grants, although state governments sometimes offer them as well. Grant programs at the federal level include the FSEOG, or Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, the Federal Work Study Program and the Federal Pell Grant.
Grants for Women
Many grants are geared towards those who are under-represented in our society, such as women. There are grants particularly for women entering traditionally male-dominated fields. The trades certainly qualify.
Some of the larger grant programs for women are quite competitive, with many applicants, but smaller grant programs exist with better chances of obtaining grant money. A lot of effort, time, and patience go into applying for grants, some things which many students are not willing to expend, so it’s worth the work, even for the biggest grants that seem difficult to qualify for.
Sources of Women’s Grants:
The American Association of University Women (AAUW)
A well-established source of financial aid for women, the AAUW offers grants for educational support, as well as other types of aid. Two grant opportunities
are the Career Development Grant and the Community Action Grant.
Found in many states, these public associations are valuable sources to find grant
money designated for a variety of student types, among them, women.
A non-profit organization with grants and other forms of aid available to women for education purposes. The PEO Program for Continuing Education Grant is for women who wish to return to college and complete their education. Awards are based on financial need and the necessity for more education, education that will allow the applicant to get the kind of job that guarantees family survival.
Low Income Grants
There are many grant programs designed to aid low income students pursue educational opportunities beyond high school. State and federal sources exist, as well as schools themselves, to provide grant money for low income students.
Sources of Low Income Grants:
Federal Pell Grants
One of the best known grant programs in the country, the Pell Grant is awarded to millions of students every year.
State Grant Aid
Individual states offer grant money to students as well. Take, for instance, California’s program called CalGrants. As one of the biggest financial aid providers in the state, CalGrants can award qualified students over $9,500 per year towards their educational costs. The Higher Education office of your state government is the place to check for low income grant programs.
Grants From Schools
Trade schools may offer their own grants to low income students. Even if the tuition is
higher than a student can afford, it makes sense to give the school a chance, and see
what kind of aid package they will offer.
Returning Student Grants
Maybe you never finished your degree, or you want to pursue advanced training in your field. You may even decide to embark on a totally different career. The number of adults returning to school is increasing. Along with that increase is the greater number of grant programs available to help returning students.
Sources of Returning Grants
The financial aid department of your school is one top source for grant money. A financial aid representative can provide you with a list of programs for which you might be eligible.
Other places to look for grant money for returning students are:
- Organizations that offer grants for specialty groups, like women and minorities.
- Federal and state monies through filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal
- Student Aid). Some state-funded grants include vocational and trade school grants.
- Local associations or professional unions that provide funding for trade association members.
The term “minority” does not always refer to ethnic status. Besides Black, Hispanic,
Native American, and Asian students; women, ethnic women, and students with physical
disabilities are also considered minorities.
Minority grants help students to triumph over financial issues from often disadvantaged circumstances of economic, social and home stress factors.
Sources of Minority Grants
- Professional associations
- Local organizations and businesses
When filing applications for minority grants, it pays to be persistent. Many students do not have the motivation to follow through with the application process, which gives those that do have the drive far better chances of winning a grant.
According to the federal government, all students will have access to higher education, even if disabled. Disability may be in the form of visual or hearing impairment; it could be the challenge of navigating through school in a wheelchair, or it might be psychological or cognitive.
Sources of Disabilities Grants
- Organizations-the main source of grants for the disabled. Some examples are:
- National Federation for the Blind
- National Association of the Deaf
Schools Specifically for the Disabled
There are schools designed for disabled students. One example is the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT. As one of this country’s best technical
schools, students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT can qualify for several grants.
Trade School Grants from Technical and Community Colleges
Technical and community colleges award most of the trade degrees. However, they are not always the best source of trade school grants. Despite this, some technical and community colleges receive federal money to improve their facilities, maintain trained faculty, and offer students financial assistance.
Make sure to compare the grants offered by different institutions, and talk with a financial aid or admissions representative about the grant programs available, even if there are none listed in the school catalog.
Trade School Grants from Professional and Trade Organizations
Trade organizations are plentiful in this country. They also happen to be the likeliest source of trade school grants. National, regional and local chapters of trade organizations often exist. Many accept student members at a state or national level. Students would be wise to join associations that offer grants and scholarships.
For example, the National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers awards a small number of HVAC grants to HVAC students every year.
Trade School Grants from State Sources
Various states provide trade school grants for students who seek vocational certificates and degrees. The Kansas Board of Regents offers vocational grants annually to residents enrolled in trade programs at Kansas technical and community colleges. Almost half of the trade school students in the state benefit from these funds. Kansas holds a vocational exam where the best scores qualify for the grants.
Trade School Grants from Businesses and Industry
Both industries and private businesses sometimes provide trade school grants. Look for regional or local grants particularly for trade school students.
How to Apply for Trade School Grants
The process of applying for trade school grants is a basic one, but requires attention to detail. The way to get financial aid money in the form of grants can be broken down into three fundamental steps.
Step One: File A FAFSA
Before applying for any other form of financial aid, this is the first step to take. File a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Filing this document ensures your consideration for federal grant programs, along with other forms of federal aid.
The FAFSA can be filed either electronically or by mail. To receive a faster response, file electronically. You can get the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Most important, fill out the form completely and be sure to file by the deadline. There are three deadlines associated with the FAFSA: federal, state, and school. Filing by the earliest deadline is the best option.
Information about you is included in the FAFSA, which is used to determine your eligibility for grant money.
Step Two: Wait for Your SAR
Several weeks after filing the FAFSA, you will receive a SAR, or Student Aid Report. The SAR is a document which outlines your EFC, Expected Family Contribution, to your educational expenses. If your EFC is a small amount, you are more likely to qualify for grants.
The Student Aid Report also contains a section specifying what kinds of federal aid you are qualified for. If the income you reported on your FAFSA was low, you may be eligible for a need-based grant. The Federal Pell Grant is one example of a need-based grant.
Whatever schools you indicated on your FAFSA will also get a copy of your SAR. Each school will review the information in your SAR and create a financial aid package to offer you, detailed in an award letter they will send out.
Step Three: Complete the Form for State Grants
Once you have your financial aid award letter from your prospective school or schools, if the funds offered are not enough to cover education costs, you have the option of applying for state funded grants as merit-based grants.
Merit-based grants are a general term for any grant that requires you to meet specific standards to qualify. Where need-based grants are mainly based on income, merit-based grants are based on a combination of academic and income factors. State grants typically require that your income not exceed a fixed amount, but you must meet certain grade requirements too.
Forms for merit-based grants can usually be found on the website for your specific state. The application process entails sending in verification of your grade point average to the student aid commission of your state. You become eligible for a grant if your GPA is high enough. Make sure to carefully read all the directions for the grant application for your particular state and pay attention to deadlines, submitting all forms and information requested in a timely manner.
Times have definitely changed where trade school is concerned. Many more people are interested in pursuing careers in such diverse fields as electrical, HVAC, automotive, cosmetology, and Culinary Arts, to name a few.
Now, as never before, financial aid as free grant money is readily available to those who seek degrees or certificates in vocational or technical trades. With some concentrated research, effort, and time, trade school students can procure the grants they need to fund a brighter future.