Do you know the price of a commercial driver’s license (CDL)? Most CDL programs cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the kind of CDL license, the reputation of the school, or the area (state) the school is in. Because the cost of the whole curriculum is charged upfront, it varies from a regular institution. This may seem to be an immediate roadblock. However, do not give up hope. Truck driving training may be made more economical through financial aid assistance in a few ways.
How to Pay for CDL School?
1. Company-Sponsored CDL Training
Some trucking companies offer tuition reimbursements. Attending a company-sponsored CDL training school is the greatest option to get a CDL without incurring debt or emptying your funds. Because these schools are administered by trucking firms rather than corporations that simply operate schools, company-sponsored CDL training facilities are distinct from private ones.
Private schools are for-profit enterprises, so just because they’re expensive doesn’t imply you’ll receive better instruction. There is a contractual requirement that you must meet after receiving your CDL (typically one year of work or 100,000 safe driving miles). However, many company-sponsored CDL schools pay students while they’re on training, and most have little out-of-pocket fees to consider.
To give examples, Knight Transportation – the Phoenix-based freight carrier and Springfield, Missouri’s Prime Trucking School offer company-sponsored CDL training.
2. Federal and State Financial Aids
Scholarships and grants may reduce or eliminate the cost of your CDL by a large margin or in certain cases completely. In the beginning, if you pay for the CDL training out of your own pocket, you may have to work as a driver for a few months to pay back your bank account. There is no cost to receiving scholarship and grant for CDL training. Like loans, you do not have to pay them back.
Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before you start looking for financial aid. In order to receive government-backed loans and scholarships, students must complete the application. Depending on the scholarship or award you are applying for, you may need to complete this form.
Consider private scholarships, government grants (such as the Pell Grant), VA education benefits, or other scholarship alternatives. The driving school you choose may even have a financial assistance office or information you need. Using their advice, you may be able to take advantage of chances that you otherwise might have missed.
The United States Truck Driving School (USTDS) offers financial assistance programs to help veterans and active duty service members receive the best CDL training.
3. CDL Grants
Truck drivers have been in low supply in the United States for some time, but the current epidemic has exacerbated this problem. Increases in CDL driver salary and funding for CDL training programs have resulted from an increase in demand.
In certain cases, you may be qualified for government grants for CDL training. It’s worth looking into federal, state or municipal financial assistance to help pay for CDL training. Amounts of support vary per program, although grants often pay the majority, if not the whole cost of training. One of the financial assistance programs listed below might help you design a cost-effective strategy.
Unemployment Grants for CDL Training
Unemployed candidates who want to become truck drivers, and who meet the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), formerly WIA, are eligible for a grant to help them pay for classes, improve their skills, and find steady work.
WIOA funding has been used by several graduates of DRC network schools to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Anyone who has received unemployment or food stamp assistance may be eligible for the program. To learn more about a WIOA grant for CDL school, contact a career consultant.
State or Private Vocational Rehab Programs
Retraining subsidies for CDL training are available from both state and municipal governments. These courses are offered to assist folks in learning a skill that would help them get a job with better security. Vocational Rehabilitation programs, often known as Voc Rehab, provide financial assistance to eligible students in public and private schools. This government grant for truck driver training may be available to you if you have been injured on the job or are presently undergoing rehabilitation.
Veteran service members may take advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill® to pay for CDL schooling and even an apprenticeship. Paying for school and living expenses while you’re in training may be made possible with the GI Bill®. In reality, the Military Apprenticeship Program includes several carriers. You may be able to receive a monthly educational benefit check in addition to your weekly wage as a result of this program. Spouse or children may also be eligible for this benefit.
Native Americans Special Funding
Many Native American students can get funding for school through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Because these programs usually pay for all of the costs of truck driver training school, you should check with your local chapter to see if you qualify. If you or a member of your immediate family is or was a union member, you might be able to get funding from an educational annuity to pay for more school. For more information, call your union.
4. School Financing
Some schools offer financing opportunities. Payment plans are available at certain CDL training institutions, allowing you to spread out the cost over a period of time. Rather than paying the whole tuition in one go, if you can’t afford truck driving school, it could be more convenient to pay in monthly payments.
It’s still a lot of money to pay each month while you’re seeking a job after your degree ends. However, it will take the burden off you. One example of a school that offers financing for CDL training is Star Truck Driving School at Hickory Hills, Illinois.
5. Personal Loan
If you don’t have enough money, you might want to look into bank loans and credit cards. Loans like this one have some advantages over Pell Grants and other federal student aid programs. But, the interest rates tend to be higher and applicants often need good credit to get a personal loan because of this. You may be able to get a personal loan from a company that a private CDL school recommends.
To become a truck driver, one might have to pay a lot of money for CDL training. However, there are more than a few ways to pay for training to become a truck driver. There are a lot of options that don’t require a lot of debt. To figure out which option is best for you and go for it.
Marina was in corporate communications for over 15 years before becoming a freelance writer for TruckersTraining.com. 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.