Many good jobs require additional training beyond high school, but a four-year degree isn’t necessarily the only way to advance to an advanced career path.


Technical and alternative schools are excellent training and education options for University. A successful tech job can bring job satisfaction, a solid income, and the rewards of doing something you really love. But can you use student loans finance such education?

A study by the education company Pearson predicts that by 2030, technical careers in construction, information technology, healthcare and other skill-based industries will be booming. Preparation for these careers of the future can come not only from traditional four-year schools, but also from career colleges, community colleges, vocational and business schools, vocational training centers, apprenticeship programs, Job Corps centers and military professional programs.

When you think of technical education, be sure to see if your community college has tuition-free programs. Tuition-free community colleges might be an option for students who meet the eligibility requirements. While there are always expenses such as transportation and textbooks, if you live in an area where you can get a technical education without tuition or even take some initial courses while pursuing a technical career, it is worth the effort. worth exploring.

For students considering an apprenticeship program, one of the benefits is that participants can be paid while they learn on the job in an area of ​​professional interest such as information technology and healthcare. . This can limit student debt and can help a student avoid borrowing for school altogether – for example if the program qualifies for federal financial aid and the student qualifies for a Pell Grant.

Paying for alternative higher education

There are several factors to consider when looking to finance an investment in any type of technical or alternative education.

A good place to start is to assess how much student debt you’ll need and explore financing options in addition to student loans.

While student loans may be an option, note that federal student loans are for accredited institutions only, and not all accredited institutions participate in federal student aid programs.

In fact, many career schools and technical and vocational programs are not accredited, making the students attending them ineligible for federal financial aid such as federal student loans, the Pell scholarship, and co-op. federal. This is something to keep in mind as you explore schools and programs.

The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator Tool can help you find out if the programs you are interested in are accredited and eligible for federal student aid.

Private student loans are an option, but they usually have higher interest rates and less favorable terms than federal student loans and are more difficult to qualify as they require a credit check and approval. Some lenders such as Sallie Mae also offer loans for trade schools and other vocational training programs.

Once you have narrowed down your choices and options among institutions, contact student services or individual financial aid offices. If your plan includes prerequisite technical courses needed to enter a degree program, federal student loans may be an option depending on your field of study. However, if your chosen career program does not provide a degree, you may not be able to access federal student loans.

When evaluating student loan options, take advantage of resources offered by organizations such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has information on its website about the reputation of private lenders.

The Better Business Bureau also provides information online regarding its investigations of consumer complaints about lenders.

Funding your technical training is only part of your overall financial situation. Student debt should be viewed in the context of your entire financial situation, such as existing debt, expenses, and other obligations.

Once you have chosen a lender, only borrow what you need for your program. It’s important to remember that every dollar you borrow will cost you more during the repayment because of the interest. This is advice to take to heart because the amount of debt you take on will affect your entire financial situation in the long run.

Use the loan money only for the essentials, focusing only on the direct educational costs that you absolutely cannot afford out of pocket.

Whatever type of professional or alternative program you ultimately choose, working with a national non-profit financial advisor who specializes in student loan counseling can help you navigate all the information available and make the right choices.