Financial Aid for Trade School

There are many different ways you can pay for trade school. Read on to learn your options for financing your trade school education.
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  • Trade schools offer job-specific training and are usually cheaper than earning a bachelor's degree.
  • Students attending accredited trade schools are eligible for federal aid by submitting the FAFSA.
  • Other options to pay for trade school include savings, loans, and employer reimbursement.
  • Your personal circumstances affect how you can pay for trade school.

Trade schools, or postsecondary educational programs, train learners for a specific type of job. For many students, these programs may be a great alternative to earning bachelor's degrees. Skilled workers like plumbers and electricians are in high demand and can earn higher than average salaries.

While trade school is typically much less expensive than a bachelor's degree, there are still costs to keep in mind. Learn the many different ways to pay for trade school. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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How Much Does Trade School Cost?

The average trade school costs $33,000 to complete. While this is a significant amount of money, it's about what you'd spend for a year at a traditional university. However, your program could cost much less (under $10,000) if you attend a local community college or similar public program.

Trade school's lower costs do not necessarily translate to low salaries after graduation. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average electrician earns $60,040 per year.

Does the FAFSA Cover Trade Schools?

The federally-funded Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) can be used for trade schools, as long as the school is accredited. Your FAFSA application determines your eligibility for federal student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.

Attending an accredited trade school is important beyond ensuring that you will be eligible for federal aid. Be sure to do your research before applying. Accreditation means that your school meets teaching and assessment standards, and some certification or licensure agencies require that you graduate from an accredited school. Also, future employers will recognize your qualifications.

What Financial Aid Can You Get for Trade School?

There are a variety of options for financial aid for trade schools, including federal aid and privately-funded programs.

Scholarships for Trade School

Filling out your FAFSA automatically considers you for scholarships that can help you pay for trade school. There are also many private scholarships for trade schools you can apply to.

Grants for Trade School

In addition to scholarships, the FAFSA will determine your eligibility for federal grants to help pay for trade school. You may qualify for a Pell Grant or a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). While these may not entirely pay for trade school, grants can help significantly.

Federal Student Loans for Trade School

You can take out a federal student loan to cover the rest of your education. Student loans are backed by the federal government, and you do not have to start repaying them until after graduation. Income-driven repayment plans are also available, making repayment less of a burden.

Private Student Loans for Trade School

Banks and other financial institutions issue private student loans. Students should do their research before taking out a private vs. federal loan. Private loans often feature higher interest rates and limited repayment options than federal loans. However, students who do not qualify for enough federal loans to pay for trade school may want to consider private loans.

Trade School Payment Plan

Some trade schools may offer a payment plan, meaning that students can make incremental payments on their total tuition to reduce their debt. Check if your trade school offers this option and who qualifies for it.

3 Ways to Help Pay for Trade School

If you're planning to attend a trade school, you may look at how to pay for it. Some options include saving, working during school, and employer reimbursement.

Save for Trade School

If you've saved money for trade school tuition before enrolling, you'll save money in the long run since you won't pay interest on loans. You can use a college savings account, which offers favorable interest rates on money for college, towards accredited trade schools.

Work While Attending Trade School

Some students work while attending trade school. If this interests you, look into jobs with flexible hours or remote working options to ensure a good balance between work and school. Consider looking for jobs related to the trade you're learning.

Employer Tuition Reimbursement Program

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement for trade school, where your work repays your tuition. If you think your employer may offer this option, look into your employee benefits package to see if you qualify.

Frequently Asked Questions About Financial Aid for Trade School

Does FAFSA pay for trade school?

The FAFSA will help you find grants, loans and scholarships to pay for trade school as long as you attend an accredited trade institution. Accreditation will also help ensure that your trade school qualification is legitimate. What kind of aid and how much you qualify for through submitting the FAFSA will depend on your circumstances.

How much does trade school cost?

Trade school programs cost $33,000 on average. You could pay even less by attending a community college program. There are also ways to offset the cost of your trade school program, including federal and private grants, loans and scholarships, and employer reimbursement programs. What kind of aid you qualify for, whether federal or private funding, will depend on your financial need.

What are the pros of going to a trade school?

Trade school is often significantly cheaper than earning a bachelor's degree. Some trade jobs may pay as high a salary (or even higher) than a position requiring a college degree.

Trade school programs typically take significantly less time to complete than a four-year undergraduate program. Some vocational programs last 1-2 years before qualifying you as a tradesperson, meaning you can start working and earning money sooner.

What are the cons of trade school?

The main con is a trade school program only qualifies you for one specific trade. For example, someone who completed a bachelor's can often apply for a wide variety of jobs related to their field. However, an auto mechanic trade school graduate is only qualified to apply for jobs as a mechanic in the plumbing industry. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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