In the last few years enrollment in trade and vocational schools has soared. Economic turbulence combined with increased demand in many trades has fueled student interest in fields like HVAC (heating, ventilation and air condition), Automotive Repair and Welding. This demand has also stretched into service industry careers like Cosmetology, Massage Therapy and the Culinary Arts.
Historically these fields of study have not been supported by an abundance of financial aid assistance, but times have changed. Today there are many good sources of financial aid for students pursuing vocational and trade school training.
Not all students are looking for a liberal arts degree.. Many students are drawn to skilled jobs and professional careers in other high demand fields like carpentry, auto repair, cosmetology or the Culinary arts. Students that can match their zeal to the right educational or training program can look forward to well paying careers in the field of their choice.
Students pursuing trade school programs and career degrees could be engaged at the community college or technical school level as well as the undergraduate or graduate level, depending on their field of study. Since these are "professional" or career-training pathways you must modify where and how you search for student grants. Common sources to check include:
Community Colleges and Vocational Schools are the primary administrators of trade degrees and may be your first source for grant or scholarship money. While not all of these institutions provide financial aid many have received Federal funds to build state of the art facilities, maintain a highly trained faculty and offer financial assistance to qualifying students.
In many areas you may have access to a number of different educational institutions. Compare student grants and other financial aid offered by each, as well as programs and faculty. Always ask an Admissions or Financial Aid representative at the school about available grant programs. Regardless of what's written in the school's catalog or brochure they may be able to direct you specific sources of financial aid.
One of the very best sources you have for student grants is the many trade organizations around the country. In many cases there are national, regional and local chapters. If you plan to study HVAC, get involved and become a student member of a state and/or national trade organization. If you're pursuing education in the culinary arts, seek out a notable state and/or national culinary organization. Make sure the associations with which you become affiliated provide student support, including grants and scholarships.
The National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP) annually four scholarships of $5,000 each to students entering the home energy field. These scholarships are awarded on the basis of scholastic achievement, a 500 word essay and a recommendation and interview process.
The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation awards substantial scholarships for students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree a Hospitality field. Students pursuing degrees in hotel/restaurant management, the culinary arts or travel and tourism programs may be eligible for one of the more than 200 scholarships the AHLEF award each year.
Recognizing the need to train new workers as well as retrain existing members of the workforce for newly emerging technologies has led to an increase in vocational training grants and scholarships from both Federal and State governments. The OVAE, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, awards as much as 1.9 billion dollars annually in grants and scholarships specifically designed to encourage and graduate skilled workers ready to enter into the fast changing workplace of the 21st century.
The Advanced Technological Education or ATE program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and has been designed to assist students who are enrolled in a 2-year college studying new technologies.
The Tech Prep Education program is designed to assist states in providing financial aid to students pursuing a two year or associates degree in emerging technologies. The goal of the program is to prepare students to succeed in the ever changing and innovating workplace of the 21st century.