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Student Loans

Student Loans for Truck Driving School

Truck driving school can help you develop the necessary skills to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and pursue a career in trucking. Training may take four to 10 weeks, depending on where you enroll, and 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. 

Can student loans be used for truck driving school?

Yes, 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 come from private lenders. Entities that offer private student loans for trucking school can include banks, credit unions, and online lenders. 

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 limitWho can borrow?
Direct Subsidized LoansUp to $12,500Eligible undergrad w/ financial need
Direct Unsubsidized LoansUp to $20,500Eligible undergrad, grad, & prof.
Parent PLUS LoansCost of attendance*Parents of eligible undergrads
Student PLUS LoansCost of attendance*Grad & prof. students
Federal Pell GrantsUp to $6,895Students w/ financial need who & no degree
*Minus other financial aid received

If your school is eligible to participate in federal student aid programs, knowing which training programs qualify is essential. 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?

Some private student loan lenders offer college and career training loans that may be used for truck driving school. With private student loans, your eligibility is often based on one of the following:

  • Credit history and credit scores
  • Income
  • Citizenship status
  • Where you 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. Because getting a student loan for CDL training is more difficult than a traditional four-year program, we recommend prequalifying with lenders so your credit score isn’t affected.

Here are the best options based on our research:

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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. 

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:

  • 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. Unlike most federal student loans, many require a credit check to qualify. 

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 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 take one important step.

File the FAFSA

You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 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)

Consider applying 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.

Recap: Best private student loans for truck driving school

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Best Student Loan Advisors