The Ultimate Guide to Vocational Scholarships for Adults

scholarships for trade schools

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Trade school isn’t just for teenagers fresh out of high school. In fact, over 66 percent of students pursuing technical training haven’t seen a high school locker for at least 15 years! There are plenty of reasons people of all ages are going to vocational school: it’s faster than college, cheaper, and can lead to in-demand careers like electrician or HVAC technician. On top of all this, there are numerous scholarships for adults, making trade school even more affordable.

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Types of Scholarships for Adults

Scholarships are free money for school. You’ve probably heard about the types of scholarships high school valedictorians and star quarterbacks typically win, but did you know there are scholarships based on everything from where you live to your job to your field of study? When it comes to paying for trade school, adult students have some great options.

  • Women Pursuing HVACR Careers Once a year, Women in HVAC/R awards scholarships of up to $2,000 to women training to work in the field of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration.
  • Students with Disabilities Thanks to the de Moya Foundation, students with a documented disability can receive up to $3,000 to help fund their technical training.
  • Adult Students Adult students can win up to $1,000 for trade school from the Imagine America Foundation.
  • Union Members Are you already working in the trades and sporting a union badge? Check with your union to see if they offer scholarships.
  • Veterans and Their Children Veterans serve and protect their country. In return, they’re awarded scholarships to help them transition from a military to a civilian career. The children of veterans may also be eligible for scholarships. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website to learn more.
  • State and Local Scholarships You could be eligible for trade school scholarships based on the state you live in. For example, adult students in Arizona can receive help paying for vocational school from local organizations, such as Rotary International’s Arizona Chapter, the Arizona Chapter of the Elks, or the Association for Career and Technical Education of Arizona.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of scholarships for adults that are out there. You can check with the financial aid office of the trade school you plan on attending to learn more. Be prepared to complete the Federal Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). This is often the first step to applying for need-based, state, and federally funded scholarships. It can also help you discover government grants and student loans that you may qualify for.

Where to Find Scholarships

Now that you know scholarships for adults exist, where do you find them? While your first stop should be your school’s financial aid office, there are several other places to check.

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  • Employer If you’re working while in school, see if your employer offers scholarships. Technical training could allow you to advance in your field.
  • Local Organizations Local churches, charities, and companies are all great places to check for scholarship opportunities. They know the value of investing in citizens through vocational training sponsorships.
  • Professional Organizations Planning on becoming a welder or an electrician? Check with local trade associations. They might know of scholarships that can help you pay for the training you need to snag your dream job.
  • Library Before the Internet, the library was the place to learn. You can find scholarship listings in the reference center. 1


  • College Board Your scholarship search doesn’t have to stop at Sallie Mae. You can use College Board’s scholarship search tool too.

How to Apply for Scholarships

Applying for scholarships is a pretty rigorous process. Organizations are more than happy to help eligible students attain the careers of their dreams, but the competition for scholarships is often high. Scholarship reviewers may be reading hundreds of applications. How do you make yourself stand out?

5 Steps for Scholarship Success

Step 1: Carefully read and follow the scholarship application instructions and turn in all required documents on time.

Step 2: Did you know you could receive multiple scholarships for trade school? Conduct a thorough search and apply for everything you’re eligible for.

Step 3: Oftentimes, the essay portion of the scholarship is your chance to tell your unique story and convince reviewers why you’re the best candidate. Take your time writing, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make sure to proofread.

Step 4: Similar to when you apply for a job, you usually have to submit letters of recommendation with your scholarship application. Ask teachers or employers you have a good rapport with.

Step 5: Sharing similar values and goals with the organization you’re applying for a scholarship from can help you stand out from other applicants. Take some time to learn more about the organization so you can customize your application to fit its mission.

Professional Profile

Whether you’re applying for a scholarship, a school, or a job, your online reputation matters. Make sure social media and other online profiles are fit for a professional interview.

Seize Opportunity

It’s never too late to go back to school. The great thing about vocational school is that it could open doors to exciting, lucrative careers at a fraction of the cost and time of college. An added bonus is the array of scholarships for adults. Use this guide to help seize scholarship opportunities.

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