As a multi-degreed attorney, with more traditional degrees than I would ever need… let alone should any normal person ever want… how am I qualified to discuss student loans for technical school with any sense of understanding the decision to choose alternative education paths and seek out trade school student loans? Good question so here it goes. It’s like everything else in my life that is now good… It didn’t start out that way. I learned by trial and error.
There was a time when I wanted to be a chef but was afraid to take a new and different path in my family so I went and made everyone else proud and became a lawyer. I hated it. I loved cooking. I loved traveling. I hated law. And there were no jobs when I graduated! Law bored me. It still bores me. What I have always told my children, was not to do as I was taught.
Don’t pick a course of education and/or a career path because you think it’s going to make you rich… or because you feel pressure to keep up with other people you know. Pick it because it’s what you enjoy. Pick it because it’s what you are good at. Believe me it didn’t make me rich doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason… it made me Daddy Poorbucks, Debtor-in-Chief of Loan Camel.
I watched a friend’s child avoid going to monster makeup school because she was more concerned with how her friends would view her education choice than what made her happy. I pleaded with her to go to that monster makeup school and use her incredibly gifted talents to do things because they mad her happy. She enrolled in a state school and promptly dropped out after one semester only to later enroll in and successfully complete the trade school education I encouraged her to pursue. Now my friend’s daughter works in Hollywood and loves her job. Like I always say, do the right things for the right reasons.
On top of it all, student loans for technical school attendance are far more affordable than traditional 4 year college degrees – like 65-70% less in some instances. Trade school student loans are also available, both for federal and private student loan categories, and Loan Camel’s private student loan match-making partner strives to secure the best interest rates through the use of community banks and credit unions as lending partners. We’ll get to that in a bit.
I already mentioned the cost differential between technical/trade schools and traditional 4-year undergraduate institutions of higher learning… You know… good old-fashioned college. There’s also matters of time commitment, job demand and salaries, which all make trade/technical schools a bargain as compared to their traditional 4 year counterparts. Like it takes less than half the time… sometimes even way less than that, depending on your course of study.
For instance, Midwest Technical Institute is a successful trade school with 4 campuses offering courses in a wide variety of career tracks, from Welding and HVAC to Dental Assistance, Cosmetology and even Phlebotomy. While they do not have on-campus housing, they offer assistance in finding housing. The offer externship and career placements and a number of benefits that you would find at 4 year colleges. Here is a look at some statistics on education costs obtained from Midwest Technical Institute:
|Four-Year College||Two-Year College||Trade School|
|$9,410 (per year)
|$3,440 (per year)
|$5,000 – $15,000 (total)
|Time to Complete
|3 months – 18 months
|Books, housing, misc. fees
|books, housing, misc. fees
|Diploma or certificate of completion
Honestly, I think these numbers are low. A 4-year degree from my private university will run over $200,000.00 today. That’s insane. And then you have to graduate 4 years in and find a job that will pay you enough to cover costs of living and loan payments. Yikes! And what are those salaries, by the way?
Ranken Technical College is another well-known school for trades, based in St. Louis and offering a number of trade degrees with excellent placement services for students and graduates. Ranken has published to following information concerning salaries:
|Major||High Starting Salary||Average Starting Salary||Average Salary with 3-4 Years of Experience|
|Architectural Technology (Associate Degree)||$42,000||$33,000||$39,000-$50,000|
|Automotive Collision Repair||$37,000||$30,000||$45,000-$55,000|
|Automotive Maintenance Technology||$44,000||$31,000||$45,000-$55,000|
|Carpentry & Building Construction Technology||$40,000||$31,000||$40,000-50,000|
|Control Systems Technology||$60,000||$49,000||$45,000-$50,000|
|Electrical Automation Technology||$52,000||$36,000||$40,000-$50,000|
|Electrical Systems Design Technology||$47,000||$40,000||$55,000-$80,000|
|Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology||$40,000||$31,000||$45,000-$55,000|
|High Performance Racing Technology||$35,000||$30,000||N/A|
|Internet and Web-Based Technology||$50,000||$38,000||$45,000-$55,000|
|Precision Machining Technology||$53,000||$40,000||$45,000-$50,000|
While often times, trade degreed students may start at a lower salary, their effective net income can be just as good or better for years. With 2-3 years less in schooling time, they are starting their loan payback periods quicker. They have lower loan payments and they are working while their counterparts – guys like me and in my school’s case today – are adding 6 figures more of school loan debt to their names. It takes a long time to recoup that. So like I essentially said, do what is right for you for the right reasons.
Federal Student Loans vs Private Loans – It’s Not a Competition
You always want to start with Federal Student Loans and get what you can that way. Federal Student Loans come with benefits such as lone forgiveness and income-driven payment options. You can apply for these through your school’s financial aid office.
For any differences between costs of schooling and what the federal government loan programs will provide, there are Private Student Loans.
Loan Camel works through a loan aggregator that matches student loan borrowers with community banks and credit unions, known to have some of, if not the best rates on the private student loan market. You can check your rates without impacting credit and even apply in one place on our Private Student Loans page here.
For more on Private Student Loans vs Federal Student Loans, I go over it in more detail in my article entitled Private Student College Loans – Bridging the Gap Between School Costs & Federal Loans, Grants & Scholarships.
I go into this in greater detail in my article entitled Private Student Loan Refinance Options – Choosing Between Fixed & Variable Interest Rate Loans. Variable rates start out lower but are subject to change. Fixed rate loans do not change so you are locked in to your rate.
The difference right ow is about 1% on your rate. For me, I would probably take a good fixed rate loan on my federal loans. On the private loans, you have an opportunity to refinance to lower rates and terms so take your pick. Refinancing federal loans is not recommended without serious consideration to the consequences as you lose the benefits of loan forgiveness and income-driven-payments by doing that, which is covered elsewhere, including in Private Student College Loans – Bridging the Gap Between School Costs & Federal Loans, Grants & Scholarships.
Whatever it is you want to study, whatever it is you want to do – do the right things for the right reasons. Choose things because they feel right to you not because of what other people say or do. Don’t end up like me with zillions in college and graduate school loan debts and a career I didn’t want. It’s not a way to live a life. If you are doing this you are way ahead of me already.
So I want you to carefully consider your school choices based on your own needs, goals and ideas. You can contact schools and apply for Federal Student Loans through their financial aid offices. For additional school loan funds, you can check rates and apply for Private Student Loans here through Loan Camel.
Please keep in mind that your particular school will need to be accredited and show as accepted by lenders when checking rates and applying for loans. As Loan Camel works with a matching system of community lenders and credit unions, matching from an institution with community/group roots and/or in your vicinity is not uncommon. Nor is it uncommon to see some of the best rates on the market through our lenders.
Should you have any comments or questions, as always, please add those here in the space provided below and either the Camel or I will get back to you. You got this!