If you are having difficulties finding the money needed to pay to attend truck driving school, then a grant is your best bet. Unlike a loan, you do not have to pay back a grant. This is money granted to you, free and clear, to be used to cover the costs of trucking school. Keep in mind this type of grant is not the same as a grant for a nonprofit organization. Grants for truck drivers are geared at paying for an individual’s costs for trucking school to get your CDLs, while grants for starting a trucking business are very limited. Find out where and how you can get a grant for truck driving school.
Grants for Trucking School Students
If you are a student interested in enrolling in trucking school through a college, technical or vocational program, you can get a financial grant through federal aid or school programs. These grants are offered through the federal government, and most are granted based on financial need. You must complete a Free Application for Student Assistance (FAFSA) in order to be eligible for grant funding. Keep in mind the money available for student grants is given on a first-come first-serve basis. Apply as soon as January 1 as possible for each year you are even considering going to trucking school. The types of grants available to trucking school students include:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
Pell Grants are for students who have not completed undergraduate or graduate studies. If you are starting out in trucking school without having earned a college degree, then you should be eligible. Here are the specifics:
- The maximum amount per year varies; for 2015 it is $5,730, while 2016 will grant up to $5,775
- The amount you receive depends on your financial need, cost of trucking school, and if you are a full time or part time student
- You can receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 semesters or 6 years of schooling
- The grant money will be paid either to you directly, to the trucking school or a combination of the two
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are made available through individual schools, even though the grant money comes from the federal government. Check with the trucking school you are going to attend to see if they offer FSEOG:
- Receive $100 to $4,000 a year
- Amount received is based on financial need, amount available to the trucking school, other federal grant money you are receiving, and when you apply
If you are a child or dependent on a military veteran, then you may be eligible for a VA grant. This includes the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. Eligibility requires you to meet all of the following stipulations:
- Your family contribution and/or income is the only reason you are not able to receive the Federal Pell Grant
- One of your parents or guardians was a post-9/11 member of the US Armed Forces and they were killed while on active duty in Afghanistan or Iraq
- When your parent or guardian died in service, you were younger than 24 or enrolled in some type of post-secondary school, i.e. college
Under the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants you can receive the same amount you would have received, if applicable, from the Federal Pell Grant, i.e. $5,775 for 2016. However, this amount decreases by 7.2 percent because of sequestration by the government.
Additional Information for Student Grant Recipients
When you get a grant via the federal government to cover your tuition or related educational expenses for trucking school, make sure to spend that money specifically on trucking school. Keep receipts of expenses made using your grant money in case of any inquiries regarding how you are spending this federally granted money. This can be especially useful if you are in a financial audit in the future.
Can I Get a Grant to Start a Trucking Business?
First, the bad news. The rumor has it that you can get a federal grant in order to start your own business. However, this simply is not the case. If you want to get a grant to help you start a trucking business, you are better off trying to locate capital or get a loan. Grants for small business owners on the part of the federal government do not exist in the literal form. You cannot get a federal grant to help you pay off debt for your trucking company, and grants are not available to cover operating expenses for a trucking outfit.
Now for some good news. There are ways you can find grant money to help you bolster your owner-operator trucking business or trucking company. The key here is to be involved in scientific research and development in the Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program through the Small Business Association. If you are interested in hauling goods in an area that is high-tech or involved in innovative scientific research, then give the application for the SBIR a shot.
The SBA does provide capabilities of getting small business loans for trucking businesses interested in starting up, expanding or recovering from a disaster. This is not the same as offering federal loans for trucking businesses or owner-operators, which is something unavailable through the SBA. However, you can get a guarantee on behalf of the SBA regarding your trucking business that you can take all the way to the bank.
Getting a grant to help you cover the costs of trucking school can be the boost you need to help you financially as you start your truck driving career. Best of all? You will not have to repay this money, as you would if you borrow money for trucking school. Imagine being able to start your over the road trucking career, behind the wheel and free of student debt. That, my fellow trucker, is a relief!