There is a good demand for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, but the job requires training, which requires time and money. Both federal and state agencies offer grants that can help you pay for schooling, as do some trucking companies.
Federal and State Grants
To get a grant, make sure you and your school both meet the grant’s qualifications and then apply for the grant. Federal Pell grants, for example, are obtained by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. These grants only cover certain institutions and many short commercial driver’s license courses are not among them. Longer programs, however, such as 24-week trainings with residency components, may be eligible for a Pell Grant. Your local unemployment office may be able to assist you with a Workforce Investment Act grant or Trade Adjustment Assistance funding. Your state’s department of higher education may also offer grants. Most schools have financial aid departments to help you find grants and other funding.
Trucking Company Grants
Many trucking companies offer no-cost or low-cost CDL training programs to students willing to sign a contract with them. Under this contract, the student receives free or very-low-cost training in exchange for driving with that company for a set amount of time after graduation. This type of arrangement can allow you to earn your CDL for free, but be careful: these contracts are often slanted in favor of the trucking company, and you will have to repay them for training if you do not fulfill the contract or are unable to obtain your CDL.