Trade schools are the gateway to promising careers for people of all backgrounds. As the cost of every type of education continues to rise, it is more important than ever to be cost-conscious and consider the investment required by vocational programs. Programs range in quality and cost, so it is important to consider financial aid, special grants and enrollment contracts when considering entering a trade school.
The cost of trade school programs depends on several factors, such as course load and location. Rates may also vary for continuing education students versus new students. DeVry University offers several different programs that range from 65 to 124 credit hours. In California, one credit hour is about $575, but can be as low as $345 if a student is enrolled in 12 or more credit hours per semester.
There is a common misconception that federal financial aid is available only for those students enrolled in conventional four-year programs or community college. Financial aid is also available to students considering trade school, however all programs must meet certain criteria for their student body to qualify for federal funding. Check with the financial affairs office at your preferred trade school to see if it meets the federal standards.
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Scholarships and Grants
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may qualify for special federal and state grants and assistance to help subsidize the cost of trade school. National Guard or members of the military reserves often qualify for financial assistance. Grants can also be available for unexpected citizen groups. For example, if you are of Native American descent or a foster child in certain circumstances, special government funding or school scholarships may be available to you.
In addition to traditional scholarships and grants, you may access special funding depending on your employment situation. If you recently lost your job because you worked for a manufacturer that outsourced work to a foreign competitor, you may qualify for help through the Trade Adjustment Act or the Work Investment Act. If you are receiving workers' compensation benefits, additional assistance may also be available.
When evaluating the full cost, it's important to consider the cost of withdrawing should the school not meet your expectations or if you are unable to complete the program. Trade schools often require that new students sign a contract requiring payment of the cost of the program and adherence to the school's policies and regulations. The U.S. Department of Education strongly encourages that students have a trusted friend or family member familiar with such contracts to assist them in understanding before signing.