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Trade school, although typically cheaper than your traditional four-year degree or even an associate's degree, can still be pricey. Many students have shifted their perspective on higher education due to the pandemic transferring to online learning. Today, 57% of college students agreed that a college degree was no longer worth the cost.
Since the total student loan debt in the US has surpassed $1.7 trillion in 2020, and 47.9 million student borrowers have an average debt of $35,453 each, there's no wonder that some students want to skip college altogether. The cost of trade school varies depending on what you want to do, and where you want to go. On average, tuition ranges from about $3,600 to $14,500 per year, or even, for the entire program.
Compared to the cost for attending a four-year public institution, priced at $24,300 if you live on campus per year, your wallet will thank you for opting for trade school. Even two-year public colleges average at $15,100 to attend while living on campus.
A trade or technical school is a postsecondary education designed to train students for a specific job in a skilled field, such as culinary school, fashion, cosmetology, computer technology, automotive technology, and business administration. Most trade school programs last anywhere from 3 to 24 months, depending on the degree that you are hoping for. However, financial aid isn't available for some trade schools, so you will need to get an academic scholarship or obtain a grant to be able to attend. Here are some ways that you can go to a trade school at little to no cost.
The benefits of going to trade school
Other than finances, there are plenty of benefits to going to trade school. Some people don't want to take the typical career path especially if you are pursuing a career that doesn't require getting a college degree. It's difficult to already get a degree at times, and if you don’t want to take any gen ed classes, it might be a better fit for you.
Here are some benefits to going to trade school:
- You can start learning when you want - many trade schools have multiple start dates throughout the year and rolling admission;
- You’ll have small classes, with peers who have similar interests;
- You can save money going to a technical school versus a four year institution;
- You get hands on training as part of your education;
- Most importantly, you can get your degree faster, and get into the field even quicker.
How to get paid to go to trade school
By going to a trade school that pays you to attend, you’ll be able to save a lot of money, and time instead of looking for a place that might not give you any scholarships. If the more traditional education system is not for you, it might be a good idea to find alternative schooling through some of these options.
Many trade schools offer apprenticeships for certain programs. By asking around the school's different departments, you might be able to score an apprentice position. Another option is to check out if you’re eligible for the Federal Work Study Program, where you can get paid while in trade school or college. Work study programs provide students with jobs in education and other jobs related to what you’re studying for.
More options include joining the AirForce, Army, Navy, Marines, the Coast Guard, or National Guard to help offset the costs of tuition. Each service has their own requirements and qualifications, but if you’re able to get 100 percent of your tuition paid for, it’s worth it.
On top of these programs, many auto programs in trade schools will offer to pay for your education. If you work for BMW, you can get free training without payment; at Cummins there are apprenticeship opportunities; Mopar offers training sponsored by the dealer with an internship; Tesla offers free training with a stipend; and Toyota has training sponsored by them with an internship.
Trade school scholarships and grants
Depending on which state that you want to study your trade in, you'll have different options to choose from. Each school is different, and If you have a specific school in mind, then you should check out their website for any financial aid services, or to see if they have a link to a scholarship program or form. This list will include some notable trade schools in the midwest that offer scholarships, including Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.
Ohio Trade Schools
- At C-TEC of Licking County, the cost of tuition depends on the program you enroll in. They accept Federal Pell Grants, Veterans Administration Benefits, Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), and Local Scholarships.
- Their Educational Scholarship is available online to fill out, they accept the Federal Pell Grant for programs over 600 hours in length, and they offer payment plans for tuition for enrolled students.
- Attendance at Trumbull CTC costs only an average $5,461 per year after financial aid for students. They accept Federal Pell Grants, federal aid, state grants, and offer institutional grants for students depending on their financial aid status.
Illinois Trade Schools
- At HVAC Technical Institute, you’ll need to fill out the fafsa to see your financial aid status. Each program tuition costs vary, so reach out to their financial aid office for more information on their available scholarships and grants.
- Costs vary depending on the program
- This program only costs $1,300 per year, with an average two year program. If you need scholarships to cover this cost, you will have to apply to local or state scholarships to cover each year.
Pennsylvania Trade Schools
- The average price of Rosedale Technical College’s tuition fees is $13,250. The school offers plenty of scholarships and grants, including the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Grant, Federal Pell Grants, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Student Educational Assistance Foundation Grant, and Veterans Benefits.
- The tuition fee for their professional dog grooming course is $4,990. All professional tools and textbook fees are included in the overall tuition cost. The tuition can be covered by financial aid and federal grants.
- The cost to attend the PIA School varies depending on what program you want to enroll in. For Aviation Maintenance, tuition is $38,500, and Aviation Electronics is $38,500. Each program has a $150 registration fee. Each program is eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, the Pennsylvania State Grants, and offers PA CareerLink funding programs.
No matter what educational program you decide to pursue, Grantford’s team is here to help you with navigating tuition fees. If you need more information on the FAFSA, Financial Aid, and more, read our blog for tips. You can also apply to the Grantford Recycled Essay Scholarship until the end of November 2022 for a chance to win $1,500 toward your college fees.
Choosing a tech or trade school might be the right decision for you. The benefits can outweigh the cons, especially if you're looking for a cheap college alternative where you need a certification for the field you want to work in without getting a four-year degree. Keep these tips in mind when applying to a tech or trade school, and when in doubt, reach out to a local trade school near you and ask about their financial aid and scholarship opportunities.