One of the most difficult obstacles faced by students of California trade schools is figuring out how to pay for their education. Tuition costs at technical colleges can be high, and many applicants can’t meet the academic requirements for a scholarship and are turned off by the idea of taking on a large student loan. Unfortunately, many of these prospective students are unaware that they may easily qualify for a grant that can solve most of their problems.
What is a Trade School Grant?
Like any other type of grant, trade school grants are essentially free money given to qualified students to help pay for their vocational education. They do not have to be repaid like a loan, and most do not carry any type of requirement for past academic achievement. Basically, if you qualify for the grant, the money is yours.
What Types of Grants are Available to California Trade School Students?
Grants are offered by a wide variety of organizations for the purpose of supporting the career development of certain types of people. Some of the standard grants one can find are for students who meet the following profiles:
• Low income
• People with disabilities
• Applicants with special needs
• Adult students returning to school
In addition to the aforementioned general grants, there are also numerous career-specific grants sponsored by business and community organizations or other types of public foundations. The State of California also offers the highly popular Cal Grant C which includes $576 per semester for books, equipment and tools and an additional $2,592 for students in pre-approved trade school programs.
The bottom line is, many potential applicants who are concerned about their ability to pay for vocational training actually qualify for a grant and don’t even know it.
How to Find California Trade School Grants
There are three basic types of grants that you will need to search for in order to determine whether or not you qualify for assistance: federal, state and private. While locating grants from government sources is fairly easy, finding them from private organizations can be a bit more difficult. In every case, you should begin this search immediately after applying to the trade schools of your choice.
Finding out if you’re qualified for any federal grants requires only one simple step – filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. When you complete this application, your personal information is used to generate a Student Aid Report (SAR) which will outline, among other things, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward tuition. The EFC is critical because, if it is very low, you can expect to qualify for several grants.
In addition to the all-important EFC, your SAR will also inform you of any federal grants that you qualify for. This report is also sent to schools you applied to, which will enable them to determine if you qualify for any direct financial aid packages they offer.
Grants from the State of California
The process for finding state grants in California is a bit more involved, but is still one that requires only a couple of steps. Because state assistance is usually based more on previous academic merit than federal is, it is recommended that you begin your search by contacting the admissions people at the schools where you’ve applied. They should be able to determine whether or not your academic record is sufficient to garner consideration for any of the major state grants.
In addition to the schools, you should also contact the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) at www.csac.ca.gov and review your background with them. This two-pronged approach should guarantee that no state grants for which you are qualified slip through the cracks.
Finding Private Grants
Finding private trade school grants is definitely more difficult than those offered by the government. With that said, there is a process you can follow that has worked for many people over the years. The biggest key to being successful will be your persistence.
You should start your search by applying for two well-known grants that are sometimes awarded to students at trade schools in California: Albert Baker Fund Education Grants and California-Hawaii Elks Association Vocational Grants. Both of these grants are offered to residents of California who attend vocational colleges, but each has its own unique criteria that applicants must meet in order to qualify.
The second step involved in looking for private financial aid is time-consuming and requires you to do quite a bit of independent research. Because many organizations offer their own private grants, you should begin searching the internet for information on any company or group affiliated with the industry you plan to work in, and contacting them directly. You may be surprised to find out that one of them offers a grant for California trade schools.
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