Truck driving school can be a great way to improve yourself with a skill that is transferrable all over the country. It can mean a high-paying job for life, but learning how to drive a truck takes time and resources.
Truck driver training schools are there to offer people the resources they need to learn how to drive a tractor-trailer.
There is a saying that “Cheap schools aren’t good, and Good schools aren’t cheap!”
There is another truth, too: “You get what you pay for.”
So if you are looking at ways to get your CDL license, you will also be thinking about how to pay for your training. Like every school, there are costs involved in learning to drive a truck at a school. But there are also a lot of ways you can get help paying for CDL training. Not all of them are available to everyone, and not all of them are GOOD for everyone, but we wanted to provide some basic information about sources of funding for truck driving school.
Here are our Ten Best Options to Pay for CDL Training:
1. Workforce Training Funding for CDL Schools
Most states operate a workforce training system that is designed to help people who are unemployed get back to work under the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA). The WIOA program agencies receive money from the federal government to train people who have been laid off, or lost a job when a business closed, or were affected by certain natural disasters, like hurricanes. States maintain lists of various approved schools, including truck driving schools. If you are approved for funding assistance, you can receive a “voucher” so that some or all of the costs of CDL training are covered. Approval requirements and funding vary by program, state and agency.
2. State and Local CDL Training Grants
Whereas WIOA is a federally funded employment and training program, states and local governments also provide grants to assist residents develop workforce opportunities, access training, and manage career choices. Career training grants for CDL programs are pretty common since trucking is such a high demand occupation. Like most grants, they are free of charge to the trainee, and do not have to be paid pack.
3. Scholarships for Trucking School
Another type of funding source is scholarships that offer CDL training by companies. Scholarships usually require an application and are provided based on whether the applicant meets the requirements of the scholarship. For example, scholarships may be for women, veterans, low income families, association members, or residents of a certain geographic area. Scholarship funding will vary, and can include some or all of the costs of tuition, fees and lodging of truck driving school.
4. Vocational Rehabilitation CDL Driver Programs
There are sometimes situations where workers are injured, and can no longer do their current job. Trucking jobs can be an excellent re-training opportunity, and state vocational rehabilitation funding is often available to pay for this kind of career education. Often referred to by the abbreviation “Voc Rehab,” these state agencies have one goal: to get their clients back to work by giving them a new skill. Most vocational rehabilitation offices provide a counselor to help evaluate career options, training programs and job placement, and they are very helpful for those who want to get a CDL.
5. Veteran’s Funding for a CDL License
If you served in the military, you may qualify for the GI Bill, which provides an educational funding benefit. Thousands of military veterans have used their GI Bill to go to trucking school, and there are many companies nationwide that are really excited to hire hard working veterans. The GI Bill has changed over the years, so check with the VA to see what benefit you have. Schools must be approved to accept VA educational funding.
6. Federal Student Loans for Trucking School
Student loans used to be offered by the federal government much more broadly than they are today. Rules for federal guaranteed student loans and Pell grants changed so that CDL programs must be about 16 weeks long to qualify for the funding. As a result, most truck driving schools do not offer federal Title IV financial aid, and those that do are usually colleges that run the CDL program for several months. Most people cannot take several months to go through truck driving school. Remember that you must pay back a federal loan, and the consequences for non-payment are severe.
7. Truck Driving School Loans
Anybody that has gone to school beyond high school has probably looked at some form of student loan options. While Title IV federal financial aid is very rare for CDL training, there are various non-federal loan options. These include bank loans and for-profit educational lenders. These loans are typically credit-based, so qualifying for the loan, as well as the loan terms, will depend on your credit history, just like buying a car. However, some schools also offer loans either in-house, or in partnership with a third party lender. These loans have varying terms, fees and interest rates, but they all can be helpful for those who want to train as a truck driver, but don’t have the cash or the best credit history. Keep in mind that whenever educational services are financed by a loan, the tuition cost of the training is usually more than if the student pays cash directly.
8. Trucking Company Financial Aid
As the driver shortage has become severe, trucking companies have begun to offer financial aid to assist people in getting their CDL. This kind of financial aid can take many forms, including sponsoring your training in exchange for a work commitment of a year as a driver, paying for lodging, providing loans for training, paying for fees, providing trucks to schools, and other funding assistance. The important thing to keep in mind is that trucking companies almost always have a “work or payback” requirement. So don’t think that this is somehow “free CDL training.” There is no such thing. If you are interested in this arrangement, and recognize that there will be some cost and obligation on your part, contact a school to find out where you might qualify for some employer financial support, and to see if it is right for you.
9. Non-Profit Foundations
There are many non-profit organizations that may offer a financial contribution to your training. These organizations typically have fundraising arms that gather contributions designed to assist those in need. CDL training is often funded by a non-profit if the individual student is in need and meets the foundation’s criteria. Non-profits can have religious affiliations, or be affiliated with a certain cause or community aid group. There are numerous non-profits in most communities that generously help those trying to make a better life by getting a CDL.
10. Cash Payment
Regardless of how you pay for truck driving school, the student will almost always have to pay for certain costs related to CDL training. Paying for school on your own is almost always considered the best approach since you have no obligations to another organization, no interest to pay, and you have the flexibility to choose the best employer for your situation. And most employers offer tuition reimbursement every month you are employed, so eventually your CDL training costs can be repaid in full. If that happens, your truck driving school experience will have been at no cost to you!
The cost of a CDL program, and the options for payment are just one part of the process. Any good school will work with you to find an affordable option for payment. But the first step is to find a CDL training school that provide quality training and job placement assistance.
Just taking the “cheapest school” probably means you are getting the “cheapest training.” Ask yourself this question: Do you want your family driving on roads where all the truck drivers went to the fastest, cheapest school? Didn’t think so.