Government grants are one of the best ways to pay for education or training. CDL grants can help prospective truckers get behind the wheel of a big rig and start their careers. Traditionally, it’s best to decide which school you would like to attend before looking for grants.
The right school will ensure that you receive a CDL and can make it in the trucking industry.
Since you’re going to be using CDL grants for your education, you’ll want to choose the best trucking school possible. A reputable school can help you secure the grants and funding you need to pay for your tuition either in part or full.
Grants for Truck Drivers
Grants can be offered on the state and local levels, and there are multiple grant types to choose from. Your school will help you locate both state and local CDL training grants that can help you pay for your schooling.
A few of the many grants that may be available to you are:
Pell Grant. A Pell grant is one of the most common grant types that you can choose from. This is a government grant offered to low-income families to pay for education. You’ll want to speak to the school that you plan to attend to determine whether a Pell grant is something that you can pursue or not.
WIA or WIOA Grant. A WIA grant is given to either individuals with little job prospects or those that have been laid off from their jobs. The one downside of this grant is that it can be very difficult to obtain, so while a great option if it’s available, not everyone will be approved for this grant. This grant is offered under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) or Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA).
State programs may also be available. Every state is different, so you’ll need to research the programs that may be available in your state.
You’ll need to do a lot of research to find local grants, or you may be able to leverage your desired school’s financial aid office. The financial aid office will have information on the grants and scholarships that are available and will help you file for them.
It’s always best to discuss financial matters with your school because they may have funding options that you’re unaware of.
Will FAFSA Pay for CDL Training?
FAFSA technically will cover CDL training, but there are recent legislative changes that will impact your ability to have your training covered by federal guaranteed student loans or even Pell grants.
Changes made in 2018 made it so that CDL programs must be 16 weeks long or longer to qualify for FAFSA.
What does this mean?
Your schooling will likely need to be sought at a local college that offers a longer program that may be 16 weeks or even longer. A four-month program may not seem long to you, but a full-time CDL program will often last for just seven weeks.
A seven-week program can be difficult to extend to meet these requirements, so a lot of CDL schools do not offer FAFSA.
What’s important to remember is that a large majority of the grants that are available require that the applicant file their FAFSA. If you want to have the best opportunity of getting a grant to pay for your training, it may be worthwhile to go through a longer program that is approved for FAFSA.
Of course, there are additional funding options to consider that may not be free, but they do offer you the opportunity to enter your career as a trucker.
6 Additional Ways to Pay for CDL Training Without CDL Grants
Grants for trucking school can be difficult to obtain, depending on your financial situation and background. There are alternative methods of paying for your training, including a trucking school offering to cover tuition if you agree to work for a specific carrier for a specific amount of time.
The additional methods of paying for school may include:
Scholarships. You may be able to seek a scholarship for your training. You’ll likely need to fill out an application and may need to meet certain requirements for approval. The scholarships that are available may include options for veterans, low-income families, women or others.
Vocational Rehab Programs. Re-training programs are often available to workers that are injured and can no longer fulfill their job duties. Voc Rehab agencies in your state may be available with the goal of helping someone find gainful employment. You’ll likely need to meet with a counselor that will discuss multiple career opportunities that you may be able to pursue.
Veteran’s Funding. GI Bills, the main funding benefit for veterans, can be applied to trucking school. A lot of trucking companies pride themselves on hiring veterans to fill their ranks. You’ll want to discuss your options with the VA and be sure that the school you attend is approved for VA funding.
Trucking Company Aid. Truckers are in high demand, and trucking companies often will pay for a potential trucker’s schooling under the agreement that the trucker work for them for a specific period of time, usually 1 to 3 years. If you leave the company, you will have to repay a portion of the schooling. Work commitment agreements are a great option and will offer you a job once you have your CDL in your hands.
School Loans. Some schools will offer their own loan programs to students. You’ll want to ensure that the loan has favorable terms and interest rates. You’ll likely need to have a good credit score to be approved, and loans may be funded either in-house or through a third-party loan provider.
Non-profit Assistance. Local, non-profit organizations may have loan programs in place to assist people that are trying to better themselves. You’ll need to meet certain criteria to be approved, and you may need to seek out these opportunities on your own.
Individual Scholarship Programs
Women in Trucking Foundation
Are you a woman who wants to enter into the world of trucking? If so, the Women in Trucking Foundation Scholarship may be a good option for you. The scholarship is offered twice a year and provides $1,000 in scholarships to women that are approved.
TCA Scholarship Fund
The TCA Scholarship Fund is also available, offering up to $6,250 per year to full-time undergraduates. The scholarship is designed for students that have connections to the trucking industry.
Howes Truckers of Tomorrow Scholarship
Howes Truckers of Tomorrow Scholarship has been offered since 2015 and is in partnership with SAGE Truck Driving Schools. The program offers $1,000 if approved and will be funded only to SAGE schools. The SAGE program offers one-on-one CDL training, and there are 25 locations that you can attend.
The scholarship is awarded to one student for each of the SAGE locations, so there are multiple opportunities to win, depending on your proximity to one of the many training locations.
Government Funding for CDL Permits
Government funding is difficult to find (if it is available) for many states and on the federal level. The grants that are available are often designated to institutions and agencies rather than individuals that are considering entering the trucking industry.
CDL grants are just one of the many funding options for people trying to get obtain their CDL licenses. While grants are preferred since you don’t need to repay them, they’re not the only form of funding available. You can also seek funding using one of the additional methods outlined above.