Scholarships and Financial Aid for Vocational Students

Attending trade school can be more affordable than obtaining a four-year degree, and students can further reduce costs by applying for vocational school scholarships and financial aid. Many organizations and private companies offer scholarships based on factors such as academic merit and financial need. Learners can also apply for funding from the federal government.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average Pell Grant awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year amounted to about $4,420. Additionally, veterans and military members may qualify for specialized financial aid programs. This guide highlights scholarships for vocational students, explores the cost of vocational school, and details the steps necessary to apply for awards.

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The Cost of Vocational School and Career Colleges

According to the NCES, the average cost of tuition and fees at public, two-year institutions was $3,700 for the 2018-2019 academic year. For the same time period, the average cost of tuition and fees at public, four-year schools was $9,200. Tuition and fees at private institutions cost an average of $18,400 at two-year schools and $35,800 at four-year institutions.

In addition to tuition and fees, prospective students should factor in living expenses when creating a budget. Students who attend trade school online often save money on transportation costs. Learners should also consider the cost of books and required materials. Trade programs in fields such as welding, cosmetology, and the culinary arts require expensive tools.

By applying for multiple vocational school scholarships and following the financial aid tips in the next section, students can significantly lower the cost of attending college.

Financial Aid Must-Dos

Step 1: Determine Eligibility for Financial Aid
Learners should complete the FAFSA form to determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. The federal government distributes these funds primarily based on financial need. Additional factors that impact eligibility include the student’s citizenship status and criminal convictions. Applicants with a parent who died in Iraq or Afghanistan while completing military service may qualify for an extra Federal Pell Grant. Additionally, students with intellectual disabilities may qualify for additional funding.
Step 2: Complete and Submit Financial Aid Applications
While completing the FAFSA form, individuals provide information including their social security number or Alien Registration Number. Learners also submit tax documentation. Students who filed their taxes as dependents must provide their guardian’s or parent’s tax information. Some applicants may need to submit bank statements or records of investments. Students who have previously submitted a FAFSA form need their Federal Student Aid identification number to sign in. The online application takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Step 3: Know What Happens Next

Students who complete the FAFSA form online typically receive a Student Aid Report within a few days. Individuals who do not provide a valid email address or who choose to apply by mail usually receive the report in three to four weeks.

The Student Aid Report summarizes the applicant’s information. Learners should review this document to ensure the accuracy of their address and financial status. This report also informs the student of their eligibility for federal financial aid. Colleges and universities typically distribute federal aid once each semester. Additionally, many schools also use students’ FAFSA information to determine eligibility for institutional funding.

How Student Loans Can Fit into a Vocational College Program

Student loans can make college attainable for many students. While learners do need to repay loans, they can help students manage expenses not covered by scholarships. Learners can apply for federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, along with private loans.

Learners who take out federal loans may qualify for student loan forgiveness. Additionally, subsidized federal student loans do not begin accruing interest until six months after the borrower graduates or discontinues enrollment.

After submitting the FAFSA form, students receive information about their eligibility for federal loans. Students who need additional financial support can apply for private loans, but these typically require a cosigner and may have higher interest rates than federal loans.

Scholarships and Grants



Although researching vocational school scholarships and grants takes time, these awards can help learners minimize debt and out-of-pocket expenses. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment. Many schools list scholarships on their website, and a simple internet search can reveal scholarship opportunities for students in specific fields or geographic areas.

To help learners begin researching awards, the list below features scholarships for students pursuing common vocational majors. Most scholarship applications require essays, recommendation letters, and official transcripts, so students should budget enough time to gather necessary materials.


  • Allied Health



    • Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program The Health Professions Education Foundation sponsors this scholarship, which awards up to $8,000 to California students in accredited allied health education programs.

    • Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions Scholarship The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, in partnership with CastleBranch, offers this $1,000 scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled in a school that is an institutional member of the association. The most outstanding applicant receives an additional $1,000.

    • TYLENOL Future Care Scholarship This scholarship supports healthcare students enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, university, or vocational school. Tylenol awards $10,000 to 10 recipients and $5,000 to 25 winners.


  • Automotive



    • The Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship This $2,200 scholarship supports New Mexico learners studying automotive technology or another technical vocation.

    • Automotive Hall of Fame The Automotive Hall of Fame provides scholarships to postsecondary students with an interest in an automotive profession.

    • Women in Auto Care This professional organization offers several annual scholarships to women in high school and college. Applicants must be pursuing a career in the automotive industry.


  • Cosmetology



  • Culinary School



    • American Culinary School This organization offers a variety of scholarships worth up to $2,500 each. The awards support high school and college students pursuing a formal education to advance their culinary careers.

    • Culinary Institute of America Scholarships The CIA offers numerous scholarships to students enrolled at its New York, California, and Texas campuses.

    • James Beard Foundation Scholarships JBF offers scholarships, tuition waivers, and work-study grants. Candidates must be attending a licensed or accredited culinary school, hospitality institution, college, or university.


  • General Vocational Studies



    • CIRI Foundation The CIRI Foundation works to preserve the culture and heritage of Alaska Natives from the Cook Inlet region. The foundation offers vocational training grants of up to $5,500 per year. Applicants must be a CIRI original enrollee or direct lineal descendant.

    • Union Plus Current or retired members of unions, as well as their immediate family members, can qualify for scholarships worth $750-$4,000. Recipients can use the funds to attend a community college, trade school, or vocational school.

    • Pell Grant This federal grant supports undergraduate students, including those attending vocational schools. The federal government awards this grant based primarily on financial need.


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