Grants from the federal Pell Grant program can be used for certified nursing assistant (CNA) training under certain conditions. Schools and programs that do not qualify for federal financial aid funding cannot disburse Pell Grants to their students, so those wishing to use a Pell Grant for CNA training must ensure the school and program they will attend qualifies for federal financial aid. Candidates must also meet several personal qualifications. For example, a student who has already earned a bachelors' degree usually does not qualify for a Pell Grant.
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Institutional Participation in the Pell Grant Program
The requirements for institutional participation in the Pell grant program are posted on the Department of Education's (DOE) website. The Pell Grant Program is legislated by the Higher Education Act of 1965. Regulations governing the program are covered in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Institutional participation regulations are listed in Section 690.7. You can find personal eligibility requirements in Section 690 as well.
Community College CNA Programs
Most community colleges qualify for Pell Grants, and if the CNA classes earn college credit which will go on your college record, the program usually will qualify for a grant. Most CNA programs at community colleges are within a vocational education portion of the college, usually under nursing, but the fact that academic classes are also taught on campus helps the institution qualify for Pell Grants in a way that private vocational-technical colleges do not. Contact the financial aid office of your local community college to find out whether its CNA programs are covered by the Pell Grant. The CNA Nursing website has links to CNA programs by state, including community college programs.
Private CNA Programs and Pell Grant Eligibility
Accreditation is an issue with private vocational schools, and the grants cannot be used in schools with questionable credentials. Thus, Pell Grant eligibility is something that can help students determine the viability and worth of the CNA program they are considering. A CNA program which does not provide federal financial aid may make it harder to find financial aid information on its website, and usually a call to its financial aid department is required to ascertain whether or not it meets the federal requirements for participation in the Pell Grant Program.
Pell Grants and Nursing Degrees
Many medical institutions, such as convalescent homes and hospitals, will offer free CNA training to their employees, to help them become certified while working on the job. The CNA Nursing site also lists institutions with free training by state. Pell Grants are not needed for these programs, as the training benefits the employers as much as the student, and is free. All U.S. public four-year universities qualify for Pell Grants, but may not offer vocational level programs, such as CNA training programs. A Pell Grant can be used by someone earning a CNA to continue their education in a nursing degree program.