Financial aid and student loan packages can vary from school to school, often times depending on the program’s accrediting agency and whether it qualifies for a federal student loan. Independent loan organizations also offer a range of loan packages which usually defer payment until once the program has been completed and the student has begun working. Below is some information to help guide you through that process.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Before applying for any Federal Direct Loan, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to assess a student’s financial status, and to determine the levels of financial aid for which they are qualified. Every search for financial aid for college, whether at a technical school or four-year university, begins with the FAFSA.
Private Student Loans for Technical Schools
Generally, Federal student loans will not cover the full cost of a student’s tuition. Even students pursuing their education at a technical school or vocational school may find that Federal loans fall short of the mark. Students left with a sizable amount of unmet need after applying for their Federal loans may need to consider a private lender loan. Private, or alternative, loans play an integral part in helping students finance their college education. As helpful and important as they are, private lender loans are more difficult to secure than their Federal counterparts and generally come with higher interest rates and more stringent repayment terms. That being said, without private lender loans many students would be unable to afford to pursue their college education.
The majority of private lender loans for college are designed for students attending a traditional four-year college or university. That is beginning to change, however, and more banks and private lending institutions are beginning to design loan packages specifically geared towards students pursuing career training at a technical school or two-year community college. Students looking for loans to help pay for technical school or vocational training may have to consult with a number of private lenders to find a suitable loan program.
The following private lenders offer loan programs designed to benefit students enrolled in career training programs at a technical school, vocational school or community college.
- Wells Fargo – Wells Fargo offers the Student Loan for Career and Community Colleges. This loan is specifically designed to meet the needs of students pursuing career-specific training at a two-year community college or technical school. The loan offers low interest rates and flexible repayment plans. Eligibility is determined by income and credit history.
- Sallie Mae – As one of the leading providers of student loans, Sallie Mae has a long history of tailoring loans to meet the needs of all types of college students. The Career Training Smart Option Loan is one of their newest loan programs, and is designed to fit the needs of students enrolled in a technical school or vocational college. The program offers low interest rates, flexible repayment options and rewards for on time payments. Students may borrow up to 100% of their total tuition costs.
- Navient – Navient offers the private and federal student loans for undergraduate students enrolled in a degree or certificate program at a participating technical school or community college.
- Bank of North Dakota – Students enrolled in a community college or technical school can take advantage of the Dakota Education Alternative Loan. This loan is available to students pursuing a degree or certificate at an approved two-year college or vocational school. Loans are decided according to credit history, and students may borrow up 100% of their total cost of tuition. This loan is only available to students attending school in North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska.
Understanding Your Responsibilities as a Student Borrower
Whether you are attending a technical school or traditional four-year college it is important to fully understand your responsibilities as a student borrower. Private and Federal loans help thousands of students every year pursue their continued education, but they are not to be entered into lightly. Before signing any loan agreement, be certain that you understand all of the terms and conditions attached to the contract. Read the agreement fully, and ask for clarification of any aspect of the loan that you do not understand. When negotiating any private loans, keep the following tips in mind:
- Never borrow more than you absolutely need to cover any unmet need
- Never sign a loan agreement without a definite plan as to how you will repay the loan
- Review your loan agreement point by point with your lender
- Never sign a loan agreement until you are certain you understand all of your responsibilities as a borrower
Technical schools and vocational colleges are enjoying a renewed interest across the country. The demands of a fast changing job market have caused an upswing in the number of students pursuing degrees and certificates in career training programs. For many students, a four-year liberal arts education is not their goal, and vocational training offers a way to fast-track into a reliable career. For those students, private and Federal education loans offer the financial assistance they need to pursue both their educational and professional goals.