If you’re unemployed or underemployed and want to get your CDL, you can use unemployment CDL training grants to pay for truck driving school.
To get a commercial driver’s license you have to meet CDL age requirements as well as successfully complete mandatory truck driver training before you can take your CDL road exam. But trucking school can cost $3,000 to $6,000+, which can be a costly program especially for those without a job and the finances to pay for CDL tuition.
CDL drivers being in short supply significantly affects and has disrupted the supply chain. And because of this, the federal and state governments, and some organizations and associations, are offering funding in the way of grants and scholarships to those who want to become truck drivers. And some grants target the unemployed and those with greatest financial need. Additionally, if you were incarcerated, you can even get a CDL with a felony.
Unemployment Grants for CDL Training
If you’re not financially stable, and or without work, but want to get your CDL, there are grants out there to help fund your CDL training.
Don’t assume you can’t afford CDL training just because you’re out of work. There are several ways to get grants for truck driving schools. Check out federal, state, and private options, fill out the applications, and you’ll be on the road to a new trucking career.
|Unemployment Grants for CDL
|WIOA Adult Program
|18 years of age or older who are unemployed.
|WIOA Youth Program
|14 yrs - 24 yrs old who are unemployed.
|WIOA Dislocated Worker
|If you lost your job due to downsizing or closure. And if you’re underemployed, facing a layoff, or have outdated skills.
|WIOA’s Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief (DRER) Grant
|If you became unemployed due to events like hurricanes, floods, or public health emergencies (like COVID-19)
|WIOA Indian and Native American
|Employment and training program for Native Americans and Alaska Natives
|Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)
|If you're unemployed due to foreign trade or production shifts
|Need-based grants to low-income students
|Available to injured workers or those in rehab
|SNAP Employment and Training (E&T)
|Employment services to SNAP recipients
|Lots to choose from depending on the state
WIOA Grants for CDL Training
The federal program Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides funding for occupational skills training like truck driving. WIOA grants can cover the full cost of a CDL training program at an accredited trucking school. The amount awarded depends on the specific program and school.
WIOA’s Adult & Youth Program Grants
WIOA also provides grants for employment and training programs in every state. Two of these grants, the Adult Program and the Youth Program can help fund CDL training for unemployed individuals.
The Adult Program serves people 18 and older who are unemployed or underemployed. It provides career services like skills assessments, resume help, and job leads. It also offers training funds for in-demand fields like commercial driving. To qualify, you must meet income requirements and may need to be unemployed.
The Youth Program helps people ages 14 to 24 who face barriers to employment or education. It offers tutoring, work experience, and occupational skills training for careers with growth potential. Truck driving is an approved skills training, and grants can cover costs like tuition and fees, books, supplies, etc.
WIOA’s Dislocated Worker Grants
WIOA provides funding for dislocated worker programs to help those who have lost their jobs. Dislocated worker grants can help pay for CDL training and the costs to obtain your CDL license.
To qualify, you must be unemployed through no fault of your own, such as losing your job due to downsizing or closure. You may also qualify if you’re underemployed, facing a layoff, or have outdated skills.
WIOA grants cover training expenses for truck driving schools and CDL programs. They pay for tuition, books, supplies, tools, exams, and certification fees. Some areas may provide funds for living expenses, transportation, and childcare during training.
WIOA’s Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief (DRER) Grant
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) Disaster Relief and Emergency Relief grant provides funding for employment and training activities for people unemployed due to disasters.
If you no longer have a job due to events like hurricanes, floods, or public health emergencies (like COVID-19), this grant may help pay for CDL training.
Indian and Native American Grant
As an Indian or Native American, you have access to grants specifically for your community. Native Americans and Alaska Natives who are without employment or low-income can receive employment and training support through the Indian WIOA program. The program provides grants to help with specific skills and training, like getting a commercial driving license.
How to Apply for WIOA Training Grants?
To apply for unemployment grants, contact your local WIOA Career Center or American Job Center. They will evaluate your eligibility based on factors like your job status, income, and career interests.
Your representative at the Job Center will not only assess your eligibility for WIOA, they can also find other grants and benefits you qualify for aside from WIOA grants.
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Grants
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) grants provide funding for training, job search assistance, and relocation for workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade or shifts in production. If you’ve been laid off from a job or have trouble finding work, you may be eligible for a TAA grant to pay for CDL training.
How to Apply for TAA Grants?
To apply for a TAA grant, contact your local American Job Center or Workforce Agency and speak to a case manager about the TAA program. They will determine if you meet the eligibility criteria.
The Pell Grant program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to postsecondary education. You can use your Pell Grant for a variety of career-focused programs, like CDL training.
How to Apply for Pell Grants?
To apply for a Pell Grant, you need to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA form. If eligible, you’ll receive a financial aid offer from the schools you listed, including the amount of your grant. Pell grants don’t need to be repaid.
SNAP Employment & Training Program (E&T)
SNAP Employment and Training help SNAP recipients improve their employability and become independent. The USDA gives around $300 million per year to state governments in order to run their SNAP E&T program.
To qualify, you’ll need to meet income requirements and be currently receiving SNAP food stamp benefits. The good news is CDL training programs are eligible for these grants.
How to Apply for SNAP E&T?
To apply for the SNAP Employment and Training grant, contact your local SNAP office to determine your eligibility and the amount of funding you may receive. They’ll fill out some paperwork, including an application and training plan that outlines your CDL program details.
Vocational Rehabilitation CDL Driver Programs Grants
Voc Rehab or state-funded vocational rehabilitation programs provide funding to students for CDL training. This type of grant is available to injured workers or those in rehabilitation programs.
Vocational rehab programs aim to return you to your job by teaching you new skills. Voc Rehab provides funding for individuals who are injured or have disabilities and want to take CDL classes.
How to Apply for Vocational Rehabilitation CDL Driver Programs Grants?
To apply, you will need to contact your local vocational rehabilitation office. This office will assign you a counselor, who will discuss your career choices with you. You can then mention your desire to obtain your CDL to become a truck driver.
Some states offer grants and funding for CDL training. Yes, some states provide tuition assistance for CDL courses and truck driving schools. These programs aim to get more people employed in the trucking industry. Some examples are listed below. Check with your state’s Department of Labor or workforce agency to see what’s available.
Here are examples of state grants for CDL training:
The SANDI grant may be able to help fund your CDL training. SANDI, which stands for Supporting and Advancing Nevada’s Dislocated Individuals, provides grants for skills training for high-demand jobs, including commercial driving.
To qualify, you must be a Nevada resident who was laid off or terminated through no fault of your own. You need to be receiving unemployment benefits, underemployed, or a new job seeker. These funds are also available to those who care for an elderly parent, someone with a handicap, those facing extreme financial hardship, and those paying for childcare.
How to Apply for SANDI Grants?
To apply, contact your nearest Nevada Job Connect office. They will determine your eligibility, help you find an approved training provider, and guide you through the application process.
Join Inc provides full or partially-funded tuition grants to Nevadans in low-income brackets, who have lost their job due to downsizing or layoffs, or young adults (17-24) that are not currently enrolled in school. They fund training programs for CDL-A truck driving.
Virginia – Fast Forward Grant Funding
You can get a grant from the state of Virginia if you are a Virginia resident. This is called the Workforce Credentials Grant Program. It’s aimed at individuals looking to enroll in programs in demand. FastForward covers two-thirds of the tuition of students who complete the program. However, the state will require repayment if the student does not finish the program.
To qualify, you must be a Virginia resident legally authorized to work in the U.S. The program focuses on assisting unemployed or underemployed workers. You must also be enrolled in a FastForward class.
Missouri SkillUp Program Grant
SkillUP helps Food Stamp recipients (SNAP) get assistance with their skills, employer contacts, and training to help them get a new job or a better one. SkillUP’s job coaches will help you create a plan that helps you achieve your career goals. SkillUP can help pay for certifications, short-term courses, and other training. To apply, contact the school you want to attend and ask about the SkillUp program.
Kentucky Farmworkers Program
The Kentucky Farmworkers Program provides grants that are available to eligible Kentucky residents who wish to obtain CDL Training. The program offers grant funding to farmworkers, their family members, and other interested parties to help them obtain career training. You may qualify for a CDL school grant if you or someone in your family has had a verifiable farming income over the past two years.
To be eligible to receive services under the Kentucky Farmworkers Program, you must meet certain requirements. The applicant must either be an American citizen or have legal authorization to work in America. You must also have worked in an agriculture job that was recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor during the last 24 months, and more.
If you’re currently unemployed or looking to increase your income, becoming a CDL driver is within reach. A great option to fund your CDL training and get your truck driving career started is through accessing unemployment grants, so don’t lose hope.