How to Save Money on Your Trade School Student Loans

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Trade school graduates in the United States are typically well-paid and highly sought-after. The 2019 U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs rankings show that electricians, plumbers, ironworkers and steelworkers all make a median annual salary of more than $50,000, and those in the top 25% of earners make close to or over $70,000. In 2018, 91% of contractors surveyed in the construction industry reported having difficulty finding skilled workers, according to a report by the USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Still, vocational school student loans can place a burden on recent graduates. If you want to save money on trade school student loans, one option is to refinance your debt to a lower interest rate. But finding a lender willing to refinance trade school loans can be difficult.

Here’s what you need to know about refinancing student loans for vocational school.

Trade school student loans

Going to a vocational school can be a smart alternative to a four-year college. In many industries, you can get the job training you need from a trade school and start working sooner.

To pay for trade school, you may qualify for grants, which may not need to be paid back. Maximize grants first by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Many vocational schools are also eligible for federal student loans. This type of debt often comes with lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than private student loans, making it a good option to fund your education.

Private technical school loans are another way to pay for trade school, but they can come with interest rates upwards of 12%. For example, if you took out $33,000 in vocational school student loans at 12% interest, for example, you’d pay back a total of $56,815 over the course of 10 years. That’s nearly double what you originally borrowed. Make sure to take out the maximum amount of federal loans you qualify for before considering private loans.

Saving money on trade school student loan repayment

If you already have high-interest student loans, however, you aren’t stuck with them. By refinancing your student loans for technical college or vocational school, you may be able to reduce the amount of interest you pay overall.

When you refinance your debt, a private lender pays off your prior loans and issues you a new one for the total balance. The refinance loan could have a new, potentially lower interest rate and repayment term. In order to refinance, you must qualify based on your credit score, income and other factors. Generally, lenders require credit in the good-to-excellent range, meaning a score of 670 or higher.

To find out how much you could save by refinancing, enter your loan information into our refinancing calculator.

Finding a lender to refinance trade school loans

Finding a lender who will refinance vocational school student loans can be difficult. Most companies require you to complete an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree before refinancing. Just a vocational school certificate program usually does not qualify.

One of the few lenders that will work with vocational school student loans is Citizens Bank. It offers competitive interest rates if you meet the minimum income requirement of $24,000. To qualify, you must have at least $10,000 in student loans and a credit score of 680 or higher.

You can get a quote for a refinancing loan after undergoing a soft credit check, which does not affect your credit score.

Other trade school student loan repayment options

If you don’t get approved for refinancing, there are other ways to manage your debt.

  • Take out a personal loan: If you took out high-interest student loans for technical college, it might be possible to find a low-interest personal loan to pay them off.
  • Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan: If you’re struggling to keep up with federal student loan payments, consider signing up for an income-driven repayment plan. Doing so may reduce your monthly bill to a percentage of your income. You’ll pay more over time in interest, but switching repayment plans can put more breathing room in your budget.

Repaying trade school student loans

Going to a vocational school can lead to a prosperous career. You may be able to hang on to even more of your earnings by either refinancing or choosing another method of saving money on trade school student loans.

Elizabeth Aldrich contributed to this report.

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1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)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.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/08/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


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3 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

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CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

  1.  Rates are as of July 1, 2019 and include auto-pay discount. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.80%. Variable interest rates range from 2.90% – 11.16% (2.90% – 11.01% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Citizens Bank Student Loan Eligibility: Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank- participating school. 

Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.