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How to Pay For a Certificate Program

Scholarships for certificate programs can help people in any financial circumstance earn qualifications for a well-paying job. Certificate programs are much less expensive than earning a college degree, but they still come with a cost. That’s why scholarships for certificate programs are so important. If you find the right financial aid, anyone can obtain a certificate and improve their career.

We’ll use this guide to go over all of your financial assistance options for certificate programs. These include government benefits, scholarships through certificate programs, and incentives offered by professional organizations.

See also: College alternatives: Bootcamps, apprenticeships, online learning, and more!

Why certificate programs are worth it

Certificate programs open the door to high-quality jobs that pay a living wage. On top of that, they are far less time-intensive or expensive than college degrees. Many certificate programs don’t require any background in the subject and can be completed within 6 months to a year. They provide specialized job training that will prepare you for a variety of fields ranging from tech to finance to healthcare. 

The main objective of a certificate program is to obtain a higher-paying job. It’s a good idea to research your program’s statistics before enrolling. Learn how quickly graduates land jobs, and what their median earnings are. Any program worth your time and money should have a good track record with past graduates.

Also read: Are coding bootcamps worth it?

Government aid for certificate programs

Eligibility for federal aid is dependent on what type of program you enroll in and what institution offers it. To determine your federal aid eligibility, fill out the FAFSA and enter the program’s information. You can also reach out to the program you are interested in to ask if it is eligible for federal aid. Most programs are eligible for federal student loans, which are lower-interest than most private loans and have more flexible repayment options.

Government aid for certificates is also on a state-by-state basis. Programs such as the Cal Grant in California are awarded to eligible students seeking degrees or certificates. Make sure to check out your state’s student aid resources to find grants designated for certificate-seekers.

Related: Everything you need to know about trade school

Taking out loans

Certificate programs can be eligible for student loans, including federal and private opportunities. Loan opportunities vary on a program-by-program basis, so you’ll have to do some research after you choose a program. But if you are having trouble getting the money together for a program, loans can be a great option. The increase in salary from your certification can often make taking out loans worthwhile.

Read more: Navigating different types of student loans

Scholarships for certificate programs through your institution

Many institutions that offer certificate programs also offer scholarships. If the program you are considering is offered at a university, trade school, or community college, look for financial aid information on their website. For example, the Beonair Network of Media Schools has an extensive list of financial aid opportunities posted on their site. You can also reach out directly to the financial aid office.

Online certificate programs also offer extensive financial aid opportunities. Typically, since their costs per student are lower, they can afford to offer more scholarship opportunities. For example, Google is offering 100,000 full scholarships to their Google Certificate Program. Even if you don’t obtain a scholarship, the program only costs $39 per month.

Read more: Coursera scholarships and financial aid

Consulting your employer for scholarships for certificate programs

Many employers will pay for their employees to obtain a certificate that is related to their career. Some companies have policies outlined in the benefits section of their employee handbooks, so you can start your search there. You can also consult your HR department to find out what programs are covered and how much money is offered.

It’s a good idea to prepare a pitch if you are asking your employer to pitch in. Make sure to emphasize how the certification will help you contribute to the company. Factor it into your mid-term and long-term plans at the company to show its utility. 

Scholarships offered by professional organizations

Many professional organizations also offer certificate scholarships to incentivize people to join their field. Some require that you become a paying member in order to qualify, but others are open to the public. To find opportunities, research professional organizations in your area that specialize in your desired certificate.

Have you considered: Top coding bootcamp scholarships

Consult our scholarship lists

Many scholarships posted on our website can be applied towards certificate programs. Try browsing our lists of scholarships by state or use our scholarship search tool to find opportunities that fit your demographics. Just make sure to read the terms of the scholarship carefully to ensure that certificate programs are eligible. 


Certificates can be a great opportunity to give your career a boost. They are typically less expensive and time-consumptive than other educational credentials. As a result, they typically have a great return on investment. You’ll probably see a quick increase in salary if you get a certificate that is relevant to your career. Even if you have to take out some loans or pay out of pocket, consider certification programs as a way to boost your career. Good luck on your search!