If you’ve always wanted to be a truck driver or are thinking about a career switch, commercial driver’s license CDL scholarships present a great opportunity. These CDL training scholarships provide financial assistance and support to individuals who may not be able to cover training expenses on their own.
By offering resources and funding for truck driver training, CDL training scholarships help break down financial barriers, allowing aspiring truck drivers to gain the necessary skills and qualifications for employment. This ultimate guide provides an overview on how they work, where you can look for them, and how to increase your chances of a successful application.
What is a CDL Scholarship and How Does it Work?
Grants vs. Scholarships
Let’s start by explaining how trucking school scholarships differ from grants like those offered by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. While both provide financial assistance, scholarships are typically awarded based on merit, such as academic achievements, talent, or specific criteria, while grants are usually need-based. For example, the WIOA’s Dislocated Worker Grants cover expenses for prospective truckers who were laid off from their previous jobs.
Scholarships for truck driver training are specifically designed to support those pursuing a career in the trucking industry. They aim to alleviate the financial burden associated with CDL training programs, which can be costly.
CDL scholarships typically have specific eligibility criteria that applicants must meet. These criteria may include factors such as age, residency, education level, and sometimes even driving records. It’s important to carefully review and understand the requirements of each scholarship before applying.
Financial Support Available
Financial support provided by CDL scholarships can vary. Some cover the full cost of trucking school, including tuition, fees, and even living expenses during the training period. Others may cover a portion of the expenses or provide a fixed amount of funding. Certain scholarships may even be renewable, allowing recipients to receive funding for multiple years of CDL training.
How and Where to Look for CDL Scholarships
Various avenues exist for finding education and training scholarships. To assist you in your search, here are some useful tips and resources.
Online Resources and Databases
Several opportunities can be found online, especially on niche platforms that list scholarships for vocational or trade programs. They include:
- Fastweb: an online scholarship search platform and resource that helps students find various types of scholarships, including those for vocational and trade programs.
- Scholarships.com: a vast database of scholarships from various sources, including colleges, universities, organizations, foundations, and government agencies.
- College Board: a nonprofit organization with a scholarship search tool on its website, allowing students to explore and find various scholarship opportunities based on their profile and preferences.
Make a list of trucking associations, industry organizations, and transportation companies that are known to support scholarships or have educational initiatives for those wishing to become truck drivers. Examples include the following:
- American Trucking Associations (ATA)
- Women In Trucking Association (WIT)
- Truckload Carriers Association (TCA)
- Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
- Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA)
- Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI)
Trade and Vocational Scholarships
Many general trade or vocational scholarships may cover CDL training expenses as part of their broader program offerings. Explore opportunities offered by trade schools, community colleges, and vocational training institutions that have CDL training programs or partnerships with trucking companies.
Military and First Responders Scholarships
Folds of Honor Scholarship
This Folds of Honor scholarship is available to spouses and/or dependents of fallen or disabled military and first responders members. This scholarship is based on ‘unmet need’ – the balance of tuition and associated fees not covered by financial aid.
Transforce Drive for 500 Scholarship
The Transforce Drive for 500 scholarship offers 500 full-ride truck driver training scholarships through TransForce Group’s Troops Into Transportation Master Driving Program.
How to Apply for Trucking Scholarships
When applying for scholarships, it’s essential to approach the application process strategically and present yourself as a strong candidate. Here are some key steps to increase your chances of success:
Understand the Application Process and Requirements
Carefully review the guidelines and instructions provided by the CDL scholarship provider. Make sure you understand the eligibility criteria, deadlines, and any specific requirements or preferences, and take note of any supporting documents that may be required, such as proof of enrollment or acceptance in a CDL training program.
Prepare a Compelling Scholarship Application Essay or Personal Statement
Many CDL training scholarships require an essay or personal statement as part of the application. Take this opportunity to showcase your passion for the industry, your motivation to become a professional truck driver, and how the scholarship will help you achieve your goals.
Craft a well-structured essay that highlights your relevant experiences, skills, and aspirations. Make sure you address any specific prompts or themes provided by the scholarship provider. That way, you can demonstrate your understanding of its values or objectives.
Obtain Necessary Documents and References
Gather all the required documents well in advance of the application deadline. This may include academic transcripts, proof of residency, proof of enrollment in a CDL training program, or any other documents specified by the scholarship provider.
If letters of recommendation are required, reach out to those who can speak to your character, work ethic, and potential as a truck driver. Consider asking teachers, employers, supervisors, or mentors who can provide meaningful insights into your abilities and commitment.
Ensure that your references have ample time to write and submit their letters before the application deadline. Provide them with any necessary instructions or forms required by the scholarship provider.
Double-Check and Proofread
Before submitting your application, thoroughly review all the required materials. Make sure that you have included all the requested documents and met all the requirements specified in the application guidelines.
Remember, each scholarship application may have unique requirements and preferences. Tailor your application materials to meet those specific criteria, and demonstrate your genuine enthusiasm for pursuing a career as a professional truck driver. By following these steps and putting forth your best effort, you maximize your chances of securing a CDL training scholarship.
Popular Truck Driver Training Scholarships
Not sure where to get started? These three popular scholarships provide financial assistance and resources to help you pursue their CDL training.
Women in Trucking Foundation Scholarship
The Women In Trucking (WIT) Foundation offers scholarships twice a year, typically awarding 15-20 scholarships valued at $1,000 each. The number of scholarships awarded may vary depending on applicant volume and available funds. All recipients are also granted a complimentary one-year membership to the Women In Trucking Association.
- Eligibility: Women who wish to advance their careers within the trucking industry by attending a training facility are eligible to apply. An essay describing how the training will help them achieve their career goals must accompany the scholarship application.
- Qualifications: Scholarship recipients must demonstrate financial need and exhibit a strong commitment to advancing their careers in the trucking industry. The scholarship selection process is unbiased, with no consideration given to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.
- Method of Awarding: The Women In Trucking Foundation mails the scholarship check to the recipient’s school or training facility. Recipients must provide their student ID number and the contact information of their school’s Financial Aid office to receive the award.
TCA Scholarship Fund
For nearly five decades, the TCA Scholarship Fund has been supporting students with ties to the truckload industry. The Fund grants scholarships of up to $6,250 annually per full-time undergraduate college student.
- Eligibility: Applicants should maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and be enrolled as a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior at an accredited four-year college or university. They should also be the child, grandchild, or spouse of an employee or an employee affiliated with a TCA member OR the child, grandchild, or spouse of an independent contractor or an independent contractor affiliated with a TCA member.
- Qualifications: Applicants must demonstrate financial need, academic excellence, maintain full-time student status, and exhibit qualities of high character and integrity. Scholarships are awarded without any discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, equal pay, disability, or genetic information.
- Method of Awarding: The scholarship funds will be disbursed by mailing a check directly to the college or university for tuition purposes exclusively. The scholarship is renewable for the second semester if the recipient demonstrates good academic standing.
AllTruckJobs.com is offering two trucking scholarships per year, each valued at $1,000. One is awarded for the spring semester while the other is awarded for the fall semester.
- Eligibility: Applicants must be legal U.S. residents pursuing a CDL from a licensed, certified, or fully accredited CDL training school. Moreover, you must be 18 years of age or older and maintain good academic standing.
- Qualifications: Applicants must submit an essay describing their personal journey, their motivation for pursuing a trucking career, and how the scholarship will support them. The goal is to select deserving individuals who exhibit passion, financial need, commitment, and academic promise.
- Method of Awarding: AllTruckJobs.com will issue a check payable to the CDL training school, ensuring that the scholarship funds are allocated towards the student’s existing tuition balance. This process ensures that the financial support is appropriately directed to the recipient’s educational expenses.
CDL scholarships serve as a crucial gateway for aspiring truck drivers to embark on a rewarding career in the industry. These scholarships break down financial barriers and provide opportunities for you to gain the necessary skills and qualifications for success. By offering financial support, CDL training scholarships empower you and other prospective drivers to pursue your dreams, unlock new possibilities, and contribute to the thriving trucking industry.
Marina was in corporate communications for over 15 years before becoming a freelance writer. She's been writing about transportation, and the supply chain and trucking industry for over five years. Her father was in the trucking and logging business which exposed her to the industry. Her passions include travel, nature and entrepreneurship.