Are you considering trade school for your career training, but aren’t quite sure how to pay for it? While trade school programs can be more affordable than traditional college, it doesn’t hurt to get a little financial help. This is especially true when it comes to scholarships and grants, which are both essentially free money you can use to fund your schooling, if you qualify.
If you’re like most people, you may not yet be aware of the fact that trade school students are eligible for the same types of federal grants and scholarships that traditional college students are entitled to.
In this article, we’ll look at trade school grants and scholarships from every angle so you’ll be better equipped to find, apply for and secure funding to help you pay for your trade school education.
Grants vs Scholarships: What’s the Difference?
Grants and scholarships have one primary thing in common: both are free money you can use to help fund trade school. The major difference is where you are getting that money and how it is obtained. 
The federal Pell Grant is the most widely applied for and distributed form of federal financial aid. This is a need-based grant, which does not have to be paid back if you finish your degree or trade school program.
Because it is a need-based grant, you can be awarded anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $5,920.  To find out what type of grant you could be eligible for, fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online.There are separate grants available for military veterans and veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Additionally, grants also exist that are specific to women and minorities.
Unlike federal grants, scholarships are awarded through a wide array of institutions, businesses, organizations, private individuals and many more. Like grants, scholarships are free money and do not need to be paid back.
However, with scholarships, there is not just one universal application. Each scholarship you apply for will have its own set of criteria and application process. Essay contests are the most popular, but you may also find scholarships that require a video application or other requirements. It’s always important to read the rules very carefully before you apply to avoid disqualifying yourself.
Internal Scholarships: If you plan on applying to a specific trade school, find out what types of internal scholarships are available to new students. Internal scholarships are offered by a specific school for students attending that school. For instance, Midwest Technical Institute offers scholarships to those who qualify. For example, they offer scholarships for high school seniors who are graduating and planning on attending MTI, which range from a $2,000 all the way up to full tuition.
External Scholarships: These scholarships are not provided by schools, but outside entities and organizations. For example, a major construction company may offer a scholarship for students studying a particular trade. If you plan on applying for several scholarships, external scholarships are a great option that could open up new sources of free money for your education.
Needs based: These scholarships may be internal or external and are awarded based on financial need. Needs-based scholarships are intended to help students who would not otherwise be able to afford a trade school education due to low income.
Merit Based: These scholarships may also be offered internally or externally. Merit based scholarships could be awarded for several reasons, from academic performance in high school, to volunteering or community service.
Scholarship Contests: Many scholarships are set up as contests. You may find essay contests, video contests, or competitions that relate specifically for your field of study. One example would be Midwest Technical Institute’s welding scholarship competition. Those who bring out their best welding game could win scholarships ranging from $500 all the way up to $10,000 or full tuition.
Top Scholarships for Trade School Students
Are you ready to start applying for trade school scholarships? Here are a few opportunities to help you get started.
Midwest Technical Institute High School Scholarship Program
This trade school scholarship is available to students who qualify. The scholarship is for students planning to attend Midwest Technical Institute. Graduating high school students can apply this scholarship toward any of MTI’s trade school training programs at campuses in Illinois and Missouri.
Mike Rowe Work Ethic Scholarship
The Mike Rowe Work Ethic Scholarship is geared exclusively toward high school graduates and adults looking to train for a career in the skilled trades. Aspiring plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians and more are welcome to apply. This is a great opportunity with a straight-forward application process.
The College Jumpstart Scholarship
The College Jumpstart Scholarship is open to traditional college students and trade or vocational school students. This scholarship expires and renews every year, so keep your eye on the deadline!
Imagine America Scholarship Foundation
A great variety of trade school scholarships available in one place. The Imagine America Scholarship Foundation helps connect trade school students with scholarships from all over the country.
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A Few Final Pointers to Help You Nail Down a Scholarship or Grant for Trade School
1: Apply Frequently
Getting money for your education is going to take vigilance and determination. Your best chance of nailing down a scholarship or grant is to stay on top of new opportunities. Apply frequently and keep track of the deadlines, wins and losses on a spreadsheet.
2: Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit
Scholarships with easy, fast applications and straightforward guidelines should be at the top of your list. There’s nothing wrong with trying for the big scholarships, but hedge your bets by also applying for scholarships with lower award amounts, less competition and easy applications. 
3: Don’t Get Discouraged
You win some. You lose some. Don’t let rejection get you down. Keep applying and stay positive. If you find you are getting rejected every time you apply, make sure you are reading the directions carefully. Check your essays for spelling and grammar mistakes and fix any issues before hitting send.
With so many scholarships and grants available to trade school students just like you, it is possible to find the funding you need to pursue your education and train for a great career in the skilled trades.
*Financial aid, scholarship, and grant opportunities available to those who qualify.