Truck driving school can help you develop the necessary skills to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and pursue a career in trucking. Depending on where you enroll, training may take four to 10 weeks, though some programs can run longer.
An essential factor to consider when choosing a school is cost. Truck driving school tuition and fees vary by program, but a typical range is $3,000 to $10,000.
You have several financing options for truck driving school, including student loans. Knowing what’s available can help you determine the best way to pay for your training.
In this guide:
- Can student loans be used for truck driving school?
- How to get student loans for truck driving school
- How to apply for student loans for truck driving school
Can student loans be used for truck driving school?
You may use federal or private student loans to pay for truck driving school.
Available options can depend on the following:
- Where you’re attending school
- Financial aid programs the school participates in
- Your credit history and income (for private student loans)
Federal student loans are issued through the Department of Education. Private student loans, on the other hand, are granted by private lenders. Entities that make private student loans for trucking school can include banks, credit unions, and online lenders.
Which is better for truck driving school: federal or private student loans?
For most borrowers, federal student loans make the most sense. These loans can yield benefits that private student loans do not, including:
- Low, fixed interest rates
- Flexible repayment options, including income-driven repayment
- Built-in deferment and forbearance protections
- Grace periods
- Potential for loan forgiveness
- Subsidized interest (for eligible loans)
Private student loan lenders aren’t required to offer any of these. Many require a credit check to qualify, unlike most federal student loans.
With private student loans, interest rates may be fixed or variable, so your rate could go up or down over the life of the loan. You may also pay fees for private student loans that you wouldn’t with federal loans.
However, private student loans have one distinct advantage: They can allow you to borrow more money for school than federal loans.
How to get student loans for truck driving school
The first step in getting student loans to pay for truck driving school is knowing your options, which may include federal and private student loans.
If you’ve selected a school, you may be able to get more information on financing through the financial aid or billing office.
Can I use federal student loans for CDL training?
Student truck drivers may be able to use federal student loans to pay for CDL training if their school is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs.
Loan options you might be able to take advantage of include:
- Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized)
- Federal PLUS Loans
- Federal Pell Grants
You must pay back Federal Direct and Federal PLUS Loans with interest. Borrowers don’t need to repay Pell Grants.
With Direct Subsidized loans, the government pays the interest that accrues during the grace period, forbearance, and deferment. Parents and professional students can take out PLUS loans.
Here’s a more detailed comparison of federal student aid options for trucking school.
|Annual loan limit||Who can borrow?||Credit check required?|
|Direct Subsidized Loans||Up to $12,500||Eligible undergraduates with demonstrated financial need||No|
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||Up to $20,500||Eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students||No|
|Parent PLUS Loans||Cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received||Parents of eligible undergraduate students||Yes, for parents|
|Student PLUS Loans||Cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received||Graduate and professional students||Yes, for students|
|Federal Pell Grants||Up to $6,895||Students with exceptional financial need who have not yet earned a degree||No|
If your school is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs, it’s essential to know which training programs qualify. For example, you may be able to use Direct loans to pay for basic CDL training but need a PLUS loan to pay for an advanced certificate.
You’ll need to be able to qualify for federal student loans to use any of these options for truck driving school. Eligible borrowers must:
- Have demonstrated financial need (for need-based aid)
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
- Have a valid Social Security number
- Be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school
- Maintain satisfactory academic progress
- Show that you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education
That last bullet often means a high school diploma or GED, though your school may not require these. If you don’t have either, you may want to research options for getting student loans without a high school diploma or GED.
Can I use private student loans for CDL training?
Many private student loan lenders offer college and career training loans, including truck driving school.
With private student loans, your eligibility is often based on one of the following:
- Credit history and credit scores
- Citizenship status
- Where your plan to enroll in school
- Enrollment status
- Degree or certificate program
If you don’t have a strong credit history, you may need a cosigner to get private student loans for trucking school.
When comparing lenders, consider the following:
- How much you can borrow
- Interest rates and fees
- What’s required to qualify for loans
We’ve researched lenders that offer private loans to pay for truck driving school.
Career Student Loans
- Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance
- Get an instant credit decision in 3 minutes
- Choose from 16 different repayment schedules
College Ave offers student loans with low rates and flexible repayment terms. Choose between a fixed and variable interest rate.
You can use its career training loan to pay for trucking school.
- Loan limits: Up to 100% of cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received
- Interest rates (APR): 4.49% – 15.72%
- Repayment options: Full, interest-only, fixed, or deferred (meaning you don’t make payments while in school)
- Fees: No origination fees or application fees
- Notes: 0.25% autopay rate discount
Smart Option Student Loan for Career Training
- Cosigner release after 12 consecutive, on-time payments
- Up to 100% of costs are covered
- No fees
Sallie Mae offers a Smart Option Student Loan for Career Training. This loan, designed for trade schools and other professional training programs, will cover truck driving school costs.
- Loan limits: Cost of attendance for one year of school, less any other financial aid received
- Interest rates (APR): 5.37% – 15.89%
- Repayment options: Interest-only, fixed, or deferred (i.e.,postponing payments while in school or during your internship, law clerkship, fellowship, or residency)
- Fees: No origination fees or prepayment penalties
- Notes: Cosigners are encouraged but not required
- Get assistance for truck driving school
- Loans can pay for tuition and living expenses
- No cosigner requirement
Climb Credit bills itself as “another kind of student lender,” partnering with trade schools and coding boot camps to help students pay for courses to increase their income and start a career.
- Loan limits: $10,000
- Interest rates (APR): 0.00% – 29.07%
- Repayment options: Interest-only, deferred (no payments owed until you finish the program), or full
- Fees: 5% origination fee
- Notes: Must be enrolled at a partner school
Plenty of private student loan lenders are out there, but not all finance certificates or training programs.
If you’re having trouble finding a private lender to work with, you might explore other options to pay for school.
These could include:
- Direct loans from the school
- Installment payment plans
- Tuition reimbursement, if a prospective employer offers it
- Scholarships and grants
- State-sponsored financial aid programs
Researching the possibilities can help you narrow down what type of financing to look for. Before making a final decision, remember to compare the pros and cons, including the cost.
How to apply for student loans for truck driving school
The application process will differ depending on whether you’re applying for federal or private student loans.
Federal student loans
To apply for federal student loans for trucking school, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can do so online through the Department of Education website.
You’ll need to provide information about yourself, your school, and your parents if you apply for federal financial aid as a dependent student.
Documents you might need include:
- Pay stubs
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Investment account statements (including 529 plans)
You may want to apply for federal student loans as soon as the new FAFSA period opens for the academic year. The opening date every year is October 1.
The deadline for completing the FAFSA is June 30 each year, and certain types of aid are first come, first served.
Once you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a financial aid award letter detailing how much you qualify for in loans or grants. You can then use that number to decide whether you must apply for private student loans.
Private student loans
To apply for private student loans for trucking school, you’ll need to fill out an application on the lender’s website.
The lender may require you to share the following:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Home address and phone number
- Housing status (i.e., rent or own)
- Monthly housing payment
- Income and employment status
Private student loans often require a hard credit check. If you’re applying with a cosigner, the lender will pull their credit too.
There are no deadlines for applying for private student loans. Once approved, you may be able to get funding in a few business days.
However, we recommend submitting your application early to ensure you’ll have the money to pay for trucking school once the program begins.