Funding Your Vocational Degree

A Guide to Scholarships and Grants for Vocational Students

Vocational students build career skills in fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and technology. Vocational certificates and degrees prepare graduates for high-demand careers in many industries.

But vocational school can be expensive. An associate degree can cost over $30,000 at a private school. Most students cannot pay out of pocket for trade school, but they qualify for many forms of financial aid.

Vocational students can pursue scholarships, grants, and loans. Learners attending accredited schools can fill out the FAFSA. This qualifies them for federal student aid, including federal loans and work-study jobs. This guide covers aid for vocational degrees, including scholarships and FAFSA instructions.

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Scholarships and Grants for Vocational Students

There are many ways to fund vocational school, like loans, scholarships, and grants. Some financial aid opportunities target vocational students. Others are open to many kinds of students, including vocational students. To learn about scholarships and grants you may qualify for, review the following list.

Undergraduate Scholarships


  • National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Scholarship Program


    *The FFA awards nearly $2 million to high school seniors and collegiate members. Recipients include non-FFA members.
    *
  • New Hampshire Charitable Organization


    *This foundation awards three $1,500 scholarships to selected applicants. Candidates must attend a Title IV eligible college or university. As of end 2021, EdvestinU will have awarded over $245,000 in individual scholarships since 2013.*
  • 2nd Chance Scholarship


    *The American Fire Sprinklers Associationawards five $1,000 scholarships each year. These go to anyone who graduated high school or obtained a GED certificate. Recipients must pursue a college degree or trade school/vocational education.*
  • The $2,000 'No Essay' College Scholarship


    *The $2,000 “No Essay” Scholarship is a simple scholarship with — you guessed it — no essay requirements. All high school and college students may apply.*
  • High School Senior Scholarship Contest


    *The American Fire Sprinkler Association awards $20,000 in scholarships. High school seniorsmay apply. This amount divides into 10 $2,000 scholarships.*

Graduate Scholarships

  • Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF) Graduate Scholarship

    *The EAF awards nearly $2 million to high school seniors and collegiate members. Recipients include non-FFA members.*
  • EdvestinU Quarterly Scholarship Giveaway

    *EdvestinU awards three $1,500 scholarships to selected applicants. Candidates must attend a Title IV eligible college or university. As of end 2021, EdvestinU will have awarded over $245,000 in individual scholarships since 2013.*

Minority Scholarships


  • American Bus Association (ABA) Diversity Scholarships


    *The ABA’s diversity scholarship increases employment of underrepresented groups in management and operation. This scholarship applies to the transportation, travel, and tourism industry. The scholarship amount is $5,000.*
  • American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) Scholarships


    *This AIGCoffers over 20 scholarships and fellowships. These fund undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. All applicants must show tribal affiliation through a tribal eligibility certificate.*
  • American Meteorological Society (AMS) Minority Scholarships


    *The AMSawards scholarship funding to minority students. Recipients are from underrepresented groups. Each scholarship totals $6,000. This splits into $3,000 per year for recipients’ freshman and sophomore years.*
  • American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Minority Scholarship Award


    *The APTA award serves physical therapy students in their final year attending an accredited program. The APTA also offers a minority faculty development scholarship award.*
  • Diversity Law Scholarship


    *The firm of Warner, Norcross, and Judd awards $5,000 to a law school student plus $2,000 to a paralegal/legal assistance or $1,000 to a legal secretarial student. Candidates must be residents of or attending school in Michigan.*

FAQ


  • Can you get financial aid for vocational school?


    Yes, students at vocational schools can receive financial aid such as loans, scholarships, and grants.

  • Can you get a Pell grant for vocational school?


    Yes, the Pell Grant program awards money to students enrolled in accredited vocational programs. Applicants must submit the FAFSA every year to receive the Pell grant.

  • Will the FAFSA cover vocational schools?


    Yes, students attending accredited vocational schools can submit the FAFSA. This may qualify them for federal student aid.

  • What is the average cost of vocational school?


    On average, vocational programs at two-year colleges cost $3,700 per year, while vocational programs at private, for-profit schools cost $15,000.

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Financial Aid and the FAFSA®: 10 Things to Know

The federal student aid program distributes $120 billion in aid each year. Vocational students attending accredited institutions can submit the FAFSA to qualify for aid. Aid includes federal grants, loans, and other forms of financial aid. Keep these considerations in mind when applying for financial aid for vocational school.

  • Check with your school or prospective school first and foremost.Vocational schools can connect current and prospective students with financial aid information. This may cover federal student aid, institutional aid, and state aid. Your school’s financial aid office can explain stipulations on receiving financial aid. Only accredited vocational schools can distribute federal student aid. Check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to find out if your school qualifies.
  • There are many grants and programs targeted to vocational students. Several grants and scholarships support vocational students. The Ciri Foundation offers vocational training grants, and the Horatio Alger Foundation offers career and technical scholarships. Some scholarships and grants fund students enrolled in specific programs.
  • Research the FAFSA® DeadlineApplicants must submit the FAFSA before deadline to receive federal aid. The federal student aid program makes the form available on Oct. 1st every year. The federal FAFSA deadline is June 30. But your school may set an earlier deadline, so make sure to check with your financial aid office. Students should try to fill it out as soon as possible. Some opportunities are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Ready your documents for the FAFSA.® The FAFSA asks for tax and personal financial information. You need your most recent federal tax return. Dependent students also provide tax information for their parents. The FAFSA also requests untaxed income, checking and savings account balances, and investments. Prepare your FAFSA documents ahead of time.
  • Students who are dependents of their parents will need their parents’ information for the FAFSA.® Unmarried students under the age of 24 who do not have dependents usuallyqualify. Active-duty service members and veterans qualify as independents. These learners do not need to provide parental information.
  • Federal over private student loans. Federal student loans offer several benefits compared to private loans. Federal loans charge lower interest rates. They also provide more repayment options and let borrowers merge their loans. Federal borrowers can take part in student loan forgiveness programs. Federal loans do not ask for a credit history or co-signer, unlike most private loans.
  • Many popular scholarship sites have specific sections for vocational scholarships. Many scholarship databases offer specific sections for vocational and trade school scholarships. For example the College Board scholarship searchlets students search by their area of study. This includes vocational fields. FastWeb also lists trade, technical, and vocational school scholarships. Check popular scholarship websites to see if they list vocational scholarships.
  • Some Schools May Pay for Veterans Vocational and trade schools may help veterans with field experience transition into the civilian workforce. Many trade and vocational schools offer tuition discounts and other benefits for veterans. Thanks to educational benefits like the GI Bill, veterans may be able to attend vocational school for free. The GI Bill covers non-college degree programs at approved schools.
  • Not All Scholarships Are Merit-Based While some forms of financial aid for vocational school require a high GPA or strong test scores, other forms of financial aid do not weigh academic merit. For example, students qualify for the Pell Grant based on financial need. Similarly, some scholarships award money based on need or career prospects instead of prior academic performance.
  • See If Organizations You’re Already Part of Offer Scholarships or Grants Many organizations offer scholarships and grants to members. The 4-H organization, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and the Elks Foundation all offer scholarships to members or children of members. If you are part of an organization, find out if they offer scholarships for vocational students or other forms of financial aid.

The Cost of Vocational School

The cost of vocational school varies widely depending on the type of program. Students attending public, two-year colleges pay $3,812 in tuition and fees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Vocational students may also pay technology fees, materials fees, and other expenses. Trade school students rarely pay to live in dorms, but they should also factor in living expenses.

Prospective trade students should research financial aid for vocational school. Aid may cover the cost of their certificate or degree.

How to Find and Apply for Vocational Scholarships

Vocational students find scholarships based on their study area, school, and career goals. Professional organizations, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations grant scholarships to vocational students. This section offers tips to help students find vocational scholarships. It also gives suggestions on applying for and obtaining scholarships.

Step 1: Do Not Postpone the Financial Aid Search

If you are counting on vocational school financial aid to pay for your program, start your search for opportunities early.

Incoming students should begin their financial aid search as soon as they start researching programs. Make a scholarship calendar with deadlines, application requirements, and scholarship information. Submit scholarship applications as early as possible rather than waiting until the last minute. If you find a good scholarship that is not accepting applications yet, make sure to go back and apply later.

Once you are in vocational school, keep looking for scholarships on a regular basis. Most schools post scholarship opportunities throughout the year.

Step 2: Decide What You Are Going to Study Ahead of Time

Knowing what you are going to study opens many scholarship doors. California’s Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program awards up to $8,000 for students in allied health programs. Some scholarships only grant money to students attending certain schools. Making decisions about your education can mean qualifying for more scholarship opportunities.

Knowing your school and area of study can also help when writing scholarship essays. Many of these essays ask applicants about their area of study and career goals. Providing specific answers helps applicants stand out.3

Step 3: Look at General Scholarships

represents a student thinking about how to afford their education

In addition to vocational and technical scholarships, students should also research general scholarships. Many general scholarships accept applications from any postsecondary student, including vocational students. Union Plus scholarships support union members and their children. Recipients may attend university, college, trade school, or technical school.

When researching general scholarships, vocational students should review the eligibility requirements. Some only accept applications from degree-seeking students. Others also support students earning certificates. Many general scholarships ask recipients to attend accredited schools. If the requirements are not clear, ask the scholarship organization for clarification.

Step 4: Gather Essential Documents Right Away

Application requirements vary depending on the scholarship. Most students must submit proof of enrollment, transcripts, recommendation letters, and a resume. Applicants who have not started their program may submit acceptance letters.

Organizing these documents at the beginning of the scholarship search can save time. Scanning documents can be a handy way to stay organized. Some scholarships ask for documents that students cannot prepare in advance, like a personal essay. Learners should add these requirements to your scholarship calendar and allow time to prepare.

Step 5: Get Working on Those Essays

Many scholarships require an essay as part of the application package. Students may need to write an essay on their educational or career goals. Some scholarships ask students to write about challenges in their academic career. Applicants may also write about their plans for after graduation.

Scholarship essays can feel daunting. But putting them off can make the process more stressful. Applicants should do their best to stick to the word count. Students can ask a family member or friend to read over their essay to make sure it answers the prompt. Above all, learners should set aside time to write and revise the essay so they do not rush at the last minute.

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Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.


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