$15 million in grants & scholarships available this year for those who qualify10


How to Pay for Trade School: 7 Top Ways

Jul 17, 2020 ·

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Trade school is an investment for the future. It creates a path toward a meaningful job and career growth.

There are several ways to pay for trade school. From scholarships and grants, to employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement programs, students have options for covering trade school costs.10

If you’re considering trade school for a career in the automotive, diesel, motorcycle, marine, CNC machining, collision repair or welding industries, learn about financial aid options that can help you pay for expenses.  

1. Trade School Scholarships

A scholarship is a form of gift aid that doesn’t have to be paid back. Aspiring trade school students may qualify for all types of scholarships based on their unique backgrounds and interests. lists vocational scholarships and scholarships for veterans. When you sign up for an account on the site, you’ll automatically get matched up with scholarships you qualify for.

There are thousands of available scholarships, including ones for those people living in specific locations. Learn more in our blog Are Scholarships Available for Trade School?

2. Federal Grants/FAFSA for Trade School

Federal grants are a form of gift aid given out by the federal government that does not have to be repaid, unlike a loan. One type of federal grant is a Federal Pell Grant. Federal Pell Grants are given to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and who haven’t yet earned a postsecondary degree.

There are also federal Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants available to those who had a parent or guardian die as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

To apply for a federal grant, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA form.  You may be wondering, "Does FAFSA cover trade school?" Once you provide information about your or your parents’ financial details, including federal tax information, you'll be able to see if you qualify. FAFSA completion is also required for financial aid like student loans.

3. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is another federal grant program. This program provides need-based grants to help low-income students with their postsecondary education costs.

To qualify for this program, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA form. FSEOG grants are typically given out to students with exceptional need who are also Federal Pell Grant recipients.

4. Federal Student Loans for Trade School

Federal student loans are trade school loans the federal government gives to students. Unlike gift aid, which doesn’t have to be repaid, student loans will have to be paid back, typically with interest.

Federal students loans are low-interest student loans that help cover the cost of trade school. Direct Subsidized Loans are given to students who demonstrate financial need. The interest rate terms are slightly better than Direct Unsubsidized Loans, another form of federal student loans, which don’t require a demonstration of financial need.

One of the benefits to federal student loans versus private loans is that federal loans have relatively low fixed interest rates. You’ll know what you’ll need to pay over the life of the loan, without the interest rate going up.

Another potential benefit is income-driven repayment plans. With this type of plan, you can pay a set percentage of your income to repay your loan.

Students will need to complete the FAFSA to qualify for federal student loans. They’ll have to repay the loans after school is completed, starting at around 6 months after graduation.

5. Federal Parent Loans for Trade School

Parents (and in some cases stepparents) of dependent students who are applying to trade school can apply for a federal parent loan called a Direct PLUS Loan. PLUS Loans are available for trade school costs that aren’t covered by other forms of financial aid. Like federal student loans, PLUS Loans must be repaid with interest. PLUS Loans have a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan.

Like all federal financial aid, filling out the FAFSA is a requirement to be eligible for a PLUS Loan. Then, a parent or stepparent should contact UTI’s financial aid department online or at 800-832-7308 to go through next steps for obtaining a PLUS loan.

6. Private Student Loans for Trade School

A private student loan is a loan a student would get from a private lender, like a bank, credit union or state agency. There’s no need to fill out the FAFSA to get a private loan. You’ll apply directly through the lender’s website or by contacting them over the phone or in person to apply. According to Sallie Mae, you should apply for a private student loan after you’ve made your school decision and know how much you need to borrow.

Private student loans typically don’t have terms that are as beneficial as federal student loans. For example, interest rates tend to be higher. There might not be a 6-month grace period for repayment like there is for federal student loans. And if you choose a private student loan with a variable interest rate, rates can go up much higher than if you’d locked in a low rate with a federal student loan.

It’s good to have private student loans as an option, though. They can help students who want to focus on school full-time instead of working and can cover school expenses that other financial aid doesn’t cover.

7. Tuition Reimbursement Incentive Programs

Tuition Reimbursement Incentive Programs (TRIP) are a form of financial aid providing unique benefits to students. With TRIP, when a student agrees to work for a certain employer after graduation, that employer will help pay off the student’s loans. TRIP is a win-win for many students. They get a job after employment, and they get assistance with student loan payments.14

Other components of TRIP may include relocation assistance, hiring incentive packages, sign-on bonuses and tool purchase assistance. Email us or call (866) 819-9406 to learn about current TRIP opportunities at Universal Technical Institute (UTI).

Related Questions

Are trade schools free?

Typically, no, trade schools aren’t free. Trade school costs can be less expensive than traditional 4-year universities, and the programs are usually shorter, too. But there are still tuition requirements while you’re in school.

What is the difference between a loan and a grant?

A loan, whether it’s a federal student loan or a private student loan, is a form of financial aid that will need to be paid back, typically with interest. To be eligible for federal student loans, you’ll have to fill out a FAFSA form.

A grant is a form of gift aid, which does not have to be paid back. Usually, grants are provided based on financial need. To be eligible for a federal grant like the Pell Grant, you’ll have to fill out the FAFSA form.

Questions? UTI Is Here to Help

Don’t let financial need hold you back from attending trade school. There’s a variety of options that can help you pay for trade school as you work toward learning a trade that leads to a fulfilling career. Contact our financial aid office at 800-834-7308 to learn about your options.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

10) Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.

14) Incentive programs and employee eligibility are at the discretion of the employer and available at select locations. Special conditions may apply. Talk to potential employers to learn more about the programs available in your area. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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