Is Student Loan Debt Leading to a Rise in Trade School Enrollment?

Crippling student loan debt is causing many to consider career paths that don’t require a college degree. With around 46 million Americans owing almost $1.75 trillion in student loan debt, it’s little wonder that apprenticeships — most of which are free and offer a lot of the same benefits as college degrees — are gaining popularity. The Rise of Trade Schools and Apprenticeships The Department of Labor recorded a 73% increase in individuals entering the apprenticeship system from 2009 to 2020. Instead of paying to learn, and consequently spending years paying off loans, students are finding apprenticeships that offer opportunities to “learn as you earn” particularly appealing. Students especially appreciate the hands-on experience that often comes with trade schools and apprenticeships. In addition, students are realizing that receiving this hands-on education from institutions such as trade schools that focus on fields that are highly in demand will mean that they come out of their education ready to work. As a result, trade school applications rose from 9.6 million in 1999 to 16 million in 2014 with experts predicting a post-pandemic spike in applications after a brief COVID-19 dip.

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