Different kinds of government student loans are available, so understand what’s involved.
Before You Get a Federal Student Loan for Truck Driving School
Thoroughly check out the truck driver training school before you apply for any loans to attend.
Visit the school, including the classroom and range where you will be receiving your instruction.
Make sure that the school has the proper accreditation.
(Unfortunately, some instructors may hang out a shingle to teach students how to drive a truck and don’t have the proper credentials or safeguards in place.)
In the course of checking out the school, we recommend that you get an itemized list of all your costs, including but not limited to:
- room (housing) while in school;
- food (if the school feeds you);
- allowance (to cover meals or other incidentals); and
- anything else (like drug screening).
Don’t under any circumstances take on a federal student loan or other government student loan to start truck driver training school if there is no way that you’ll be hired to drive a truck.
One had to take care of an old unpaid ticket; another had an MVR with lots of violations (an automatic disqualifier)!
Make sure you qualify to drive a truck in your state, and preferably nationwide.
One resource used to answer the eligibility question regarding federal student loans.
studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ (no longer online)
Types of Student Loans That Are Available
We recommend that you do not limit your choice of a truck driver training school simply based upon the amount of a federal student loan you can obtain.
Other types of financial assistance may be available, such as a Pell grant, a private loan or another grant.
You may wish to explore these additional sources of loans:
- Federal Perkins Loan Program (may no longer be available);
- PLUS Loans (Parent Loans) (may no longer be available);
- Stafford Loans (may no longer be available);
There used to be a comparison chart listing all three.
Understanding the Terms of Your Federal Student Loans
Make sure you understand all the terms of your federal student loan, including but not limited to:
- the full amount of your loan,
- the interest rate,
- the payback period, and
- pre-payment options.
Repaying Your Federal Student Loans
In the event that you are not able to complete your course of study, will a refund be available or will you be responsible to pay any part of your loan back?
Make sure you know before you take on a loan.
Also, throughout the course of paying back your loan, be aware that your loans may be sold to another business. (Ours were.)
If you have everything in writing and you keep excellent records, you’ll be in good shape.
These calculators used to be able to help you:
- Federal Student Aid website
Our Experience in Repaying Federal Student Loans
At the time we were paying off our student loans — and being “homeless” — we had only two options available for storing our loan paperwork:
- in our rented self-storage unit or
- with us in the truck.
We chose to keep it with us in the truck in a file box, together with our checkbook, envelopes and stamps.
Of course, if you have a home support team back home, you may choose to leave your paperwork at home.
We paid back our student loans as fast as we could. We made sure that we kept immaculate records.
For each of the four loans we had (two apiece), we were given a booklet of payment stubs (similar to checks, but in reverse).
Each time we made a payment, we used one of the stubs and carefully wrote down
- the date the payment was made,
- the amount of the payment, and
- any additional directions, such as applying the excess payment to principal only (not interest).
By pre-paying the principal, we were able to save a lot of money in interest.
Not only that, but the faster we paid off our debt, the faster we were able to apply the money that we were spending on debt toward other things.
You can do the same.
If you have not already done so, we recommend that you do some budget planning to plan out repayment of all of your student loans.
If You Defaulted on Repaying Your Student Loans
After we graduated from truck driver training school, we went to work for Swift, undergoing a 6-week training course under different trainers.
Vicki’s trainer Bill told her that he had defaulted on his truck driver training school student loan.
It seemed as though he was proud of not paying back what he owed on his federal student loans!
We strongly urge you not to take this attitude.
You will want to do the honorable thing and pay back what you owe in a timely manner.
You may not think that your credit score is very important now, but it could become very important if you ever want to buy a car, a home or a truck (if you’re thinking of becoming an owner-operator).
Protect your credit score by making at least the minimum payments on your student loans.
These two links describe how bad it is to default on federal student loans: FinAid and StudentAid.ed.gov.
In the event that you have already defaulted on any other kind of student loan, here are some tips.
While we cannot recommend these resources because we did not use them, they may help you learn about federal students loans for truck driver training schools.
We have listed them here in alphabetical order; those associated with the U.S. Department of Education are labeled as such.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (U.S. Department of Education)
- Student Aid on the Web (U.S. Department of Education)
- Student Loan Network
- 8 things to know about federal student loans
Money saving tip: If you get any other kind of financial assistance that requires repayment, we encourage you to save as much interest as possible by paying off your debt as fast as possible.
We personally had loans for about $14,000 and diligently worked to pay them off in 1½ years. Getting rid of that debt was a great relief.