From carpentry to cosmetology to the culinary arts, trade school programs put you on the fast track to a steady career.
Although less expensive than most four-year colleges, many vocational programs still come with a steep price tag: $33,000, according to Value Colleges.
Before you can start making an income, you’ll need to find a way to cover program costs. Once you’ve maxed out your options for a trade school grants and scholarships, student loans can help.
Here’s how to get student loans for your trade school education.
1. Apply for federal student loans, if your school is eligible
The federal financial aid program provided $21.7 billion in student loans in 2016, but most of it went to students enrolled in four-year programs, reported the College Board.
This stat begs the question, can you get a student loan for trade school? It depends.
Some trade schools are eligible for federal student loans, but some are not. If your school is accredited, you could get federal student loans.
You might also be eligible if any of the following apply:
- You’re taking courses you need to enter a degree program.
- You’re taking courses to get certified (or recertified) as a teacher.
- You’re participating in a certificate program that’s training you for a specific career.
If your program doesn’t end in a degree though, you might not have access to federal student loans.
This limited access to financial aid for a trade school education is unfortunate, considering federal Direct Loans have some of the lowest interest rates on the market, along with a variety of protections and repayment plans.
Before nixing the idea of federal student loans, use the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool to find out if your program is accredited and eligible for federal aid. You can also call up your school’s financial aid or student services offices to learn about your options.
If your program is eligible for federal aid and you meet the necessary criteria, you can apply for federal student loans by submitting the FAFSA.
2. Compare private student loans for trade schools
Whether you qualify for federal student loans, they might not fully cover the cost of your program. That’s where private student loans for trade schools come in.
Each lender sets its own requirements, but some offer loans for career training schools, such as these options from Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo:
Sallie Mae Career Training Smart Option Student Loan
- Borrowing limits: $1,000 minimum, up to the total cost of attendance
- Interest rates: Variable rates from 4.00% - 10.75%
- Repayment options: Immediate repayment; interest-only payments while you’re in school; or fixed monthly payments of $25 while you’re in school
Wells Fargo Student Loan for Career and Community Colleges
- Borrowing limits: Up to $15,000
- Interest rates: Variable rates from 5.91% to to 11.65% APR; fixed rates from 7.46% to 12.65% APR, as of January 2018
- Repayment options: Immediate repayment or defer payment while you’re in school and for up to six months after you graduate
Besides comparing terms, check out Wells Fargo and Sallie Mae Career Training loan reviews to learn if other borrowers had a good experience.
Since these types of loans are private, they have different criteria from federal ones. Along with being a U.S. resident or qualifying resident, you’ll also need to meet credit and income requirements. If you’re worried about qualifying for career training loans with bad credit, you could try applying with a trusted cosigner, such as a parent.
Applying for private student loans is easy, and most lenders let you apply online or over the phone. Just be careful not to borrow more than you need, as you could end up with steep monthly payments for years after you graduate.
Carefully weigh the costs of borrowing with the salary you expect to make from your future career so you don’t take on too much student loan debt.
3. Search around for the lowest interest rate
Let’s say you’re eligible for both federal and private student loans. Your next step is figuring out which one is the better option for your situation.
For the most part, the answer to this is simple: Find the lowest interest rate.
Interest on a loan can seriously add to your costs of borrowing, so you want to find the lowest rate possible.
For many borrowers, federal student loans offer lower interest rates than private ones. All Direct Loans, for example, come with a fixed rate of 4.45% for the 2017-2018 school year.
As for private student loans for certificate programs, your interest rate depends on your creditworthiness as a borrower. Those with better credit usually qualify for a lower rate.
By applying to different lenders, you can compare offers. For example, let’s compare a $10,000 loan at a 10.00% interest rate with one at a 7.00% interest rate. Over 10 years of repayment, that 3.00% could mean the difference of $1,925 in interest charges.
Since every lender is different, shopping around will help you score a student loan with the lowest possible rate.
4. Look for flexible repayment terms, too
Although finding a low interest rate is a priority, don’t forget to also consider repayment options.
As mentioned above, federal student loans have lots of plans to choose from, including income-driven repayment and forbearance in the case of economic hardship.
Chances are, a private lender won’t offer income-driven repayment, but some offer a variety of multiyear terms. Plus, lenders like Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo don’t require immediate repayment. You can make fixed monthly payments or interest-only payments while you’re in school.
That way, you can pay down some of the interest and save the big monthly bills until you’ve graduated and gotten a job.
This kind of flexibility is helpful, since a lot of students can’t make full payments right away. Before choosing a loan, learn about your options for repayment so you’re not left scrambling later.
How to get student loans for your trade school education
Going to trade school can be a smart move that can help you land into a successful trade career. But before you can move into your chosen vocation, you have to pay for your education.
When choosing a lender, compare rates and terms to ensure you’re getting the best deal. You might also use a student loan calculator to estimate the long-term costs of borrowing.
By choosing trade school, you’ve made a conscious choice to invest in your career. Before signing any financial paperwork, make sure your choice of student loan is just as thoughtful.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
1 = Citizens Disclaimer.
2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
|3.54% - 12.07%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|4.11% - 12.19%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.00% - 11.85%*3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|2.93% - 9.67%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|
|3.80% - 11.99%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|
|4.53% - 9.69%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|