I kind of stumbled upon this by accident. I've been reading a lot of post here at www.thetruckersreport.com to get an idea whether or not I would want to do trucking as well as get insight on the trucking business. I am an agent for a logistics brokerage and actually thought about becoming an owner/operator. (when I initially became an agent, there were several owner/operators there also getting in as an agent; primarily to 'broker their own loads' so to speak).
Anyway, I got serious over the last week or so and did the google searches and came across several truck and school recruiting sites. Since I am a veteran (Navy, 4.5 years), I paid attention to any military discounts or incentives. I came across roadmaster.com and on their homepage they have a link in the lower middle of the page for qualifying for FREE school (you'll see it).
It takes you to another page which leads to a pre-qualifying personality test. It's about 200 questions, but they don't tell you that. They just start you off by saying we will ask you a few questions and they put about 5 questions on each page. But it is 200 questions TOTAL. I almost quit taking the exam, because it kept going on and on and on and I started getting tired of them asking stupid questions. (remember, they DONT tell you how many questions total). with 5 questions per page, it appeared to go on and on forever.
I later found out that people should call first to pre-qual before they take the exam (avoid wasting their/your time).
To qualify for the FREE grant under the RRRTP [Rapid Road to Recovery Training Package], you must meet ONE of the following 3 criteria:
1) Residents of Arkansas,
2) Hurricane Katrina Victim, or
3) Honorably Discharged Military Veteran.
Not sure what you'll need for #2, but 1 and 3 should be straight forward. #3 I was told to bring a copy of my DD 214.
Like I said earlier, I took the online test FIRST the day before, then got a call today by the recruiter who told me that I was selected for their free tuition into their trucking school with NO obligation.
She broke it down what the grant actually covered:
- Trucking school tuition covering classroom and otr CDL training 3 weeks ~$6,000.
- CDL permit, CDL license, DOT physical, NIDA drug screen, and all other CDL-related fees ~$350
- Lodging at hotel $800
- Greyhound bus fare to/from school from anywhere in US. ($90-300)
- lifetime job placement assistance
You can work on endorsements like passenger, doubles/triples, tanker, etc. The only thing they DONT cover is food. You have to pick up the tab for that. (update: YES, they do give a $140 food voucher)
Of course, when she was explaining the program, I was skeptical. I had so many questions, I asked her and I will summarize below:
Q: So the tuition, fees, lodging, etc is completely free? Not sponsored by any company that I have to pay back later?
A: YES. It it not a loan. You meet the qualifications and you get the scholarship.
Q: Is your scholarship guaranteed once you qualify? How many of these are available?
A: Yes and no. Yes, once you are fully qualified (background check, DMV check, meets all scholarship requirements, etc), you schedule when you want to attend. NO, because there are only so many scholarships and they are taken on a FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVE basis. Not until the student actually shows up at the school will the scholarship be considered TAKEN. Your scholarship can only be held for the next class (every monday). So students are encouraged to schedule for the next class they can arrive at. 120 scholarships about 5 weeks ago. Not sure if they will have more. They are going somewhat quickly.
So let's say you were qualified today but couldn't make it until 1/28/2008, if the scholarships are used up by then, then you are out of luck.
Q: Can you bring your own car?
A: Yes. You are responsible.
Q: Can you use the Greyhound ticket fare towards gas?
A: No. The scholarship is a package deal. Whatever parts you don't use cannot be traded up or cashed in.
Q: How is the lodging?
A: You are in a double-ocupancy room and will be assigned a roommate. Every effort is made to match up alike age and smoking preferences.
Q: Can you get a single room?
A: Yes, but you are 100% responsible for the cost of the room. for 19 days, it's ~$1500. And no, you can't "upgrade" the grant money towards the cost of the room.
Q: What kind of equipment will I drive?
A: Volvo (year or model unknown to recruiter).
Q: What can I expect when I arrive?
A: Week 1: will be getting your CDL permit, class instruction, DOT physicals, and talking to trucking companies looking to hire you. Week 2: will be initial training with an instructor hands on, but mostly observation Week 3: will be more getting on the actual road and completing your CDL class A license. You can also work on endorsements as time permits. Most people are able to at least get the passenger endorsement.
You get a shuttle to/from the hotel to the school each school day. Monday-Friday, from 7am-6pm with 1 hour lunch break in between.
Q: Am I under any obligation to work for Roadmaster or any of the companies that they recruit for xx amount of months after completion of school?
A: NO. Scholarship is FREE and you are under NO obligation afterwards. You can go work for any company you want. I will say this though....we have all the big names in trucking here. Over 100 trucking companies. But technically, you can do whatever you want after graduation.
Q: If you fail to complete the course, are you still obligated to pay any of the tuition back?
A: No. But we go through an extensive pre-qualification program to ensure that the students we bring in will be successful.
Q: Can you retake the CDL test if you fail?
A: absolutely. As many times as time permits. But we rarely have people fail to get their license.
Q: Can we go out after school is out? On weekends?
A: Of course. You are grown people Make sure you make it to class when you are supposed to.
Q: What about food and laundry?
A: you will be responsible for that out of pocket. You will be given an opportunity to wash clothes at least once a week. (update: $140 food voucher is provided).
Q: What about the GI Bill?
A: Not sure. There is a VA rep here, but not available. So not sure if you can draw GI Bill for tuition. Werner does have a program where (once you hire on) you can draw about 10 months of your GI Bill in addition to getting paid. But this is SEPARATE from the scholarship program for roadmasters.
Q: Anything I should bring with me?
A: close-toe shoes required. Boots (steel toe) recommended. Sunglasses and/or ballcap would be helpful. Gloves, raingear, pencil/paper, pad, liquid jug/thermos.
Q: Can I get an acceptance letter stating an overview of what the grant program is, what dates for me to attend, etc over on company letterhead?
A: Sure. We normally don't get a request like that, but we can get one done for you.
Program origin: The way she explained it to me, Roadmaster asked the gov't for some money to do a grant program. The Feds said ok, but you have to let some of our guys in on it (veterans). They decided to have it at their AR school because it was centrally located. Arkansas said ok, but you have to let our residents get a shot at it, too. (update: It was originally for hurricane Katrina victims.)
I don't remember any more questions, but that pretty much covers the conversation. I wanted to take a school date later on in the month, but because of the limited amount of scholarships, I went ahead and took next weeks class. (not sure if that was a recruiter gimmick, or they really only have so many scholarships). But I didn't take the chance. It's FREE anyway.
I was fully qualified before she left for the day (background check, DMV, and scheduling appt).
The recruiter said I asked the most questions of anyone she's talked to and was the first person to ask her for an "acceptance letter" outlining that I was accepted into this special program.
I will update once I'm actually at the school and have signed up fully. Any comments would be appreciated.
Free, no obligation Roadmaster truck driving school....
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Was surfing schools, took this test and Roadmaster called me the next Monday to lay out this program. "yeah, I'm a vet." "Well, you qualify for this free program....."etc. Free is good. I'm starting the school Jan. 7. Will update as I can; no notebook but I might be able to get my hands on a 'puter somewhere. Another adventure in the life of Al.
I confirmed from the program director that:
a) the program is real. It is called RRRTP or RRR-TP Rapid Road to Recovery Training Package. Joint funding between the state, feds, and the school funded.
b) They do pay for the food. They give you $140. $48, $48, and $34 the final week. Not sure if it is cash or what.
c) I got an e-mail from the school confirming the program dates and summarizing what it covers. Something I requested so that I can print it out and take it with me or have it for my records.
e) they are picky about what documents to bring. You'll need your driver's license, SSN card (or printout from local SSA that you've applied for one), and birth certificate. You may substitute for a US passport. Double-check with recruiter and welcome package to ensure everything is correct.
All docs must be originals OR state certified copies.
And for military, photocopy of DD 214. Not sure about AR residents or hurricane Katrina victims.
Ok. An update. The hotel room isn't so bad. I guess it depends on the roommate. I lucked out and got a "perfect" one.
Unfortunately, the staff seemed to fragment the dissemination of the information on the grant too much. There was NO welcome package or kit to give each person an overview as to what to expect and who to talk to to present the GI Bill info or much on the grant program.
But the first day was 1/2 orientation and some of us went down to the clinic to get the drug test and physical. The second half of the day
The CDL training so far seems to be good.
Oh, 3 Q and A:
Q: How long is the day?
A: Monday - Saturday (6 days a week), 7am - 6pm CST, with 1 hour for lunch. A total of 3 weeks. Sunday is OFF. The last week no Saturday.
Q: Meal checks cashing? Laundry Mat to wash clothes?
A: Yes, but the school just hands you a check and expects you to know what to do with it. They forgot that many of the students are coming from out of town. What can they do with the check? They will be in school the whole day.
You can cash them at Regions Bank or at a supermarket called [update thread when it comes back to me]. It is off of Broadway St. You get there by going onto ingram st (left from the Red Roof Inn), cross over the bridge over I-55 and keep going straight through the red flashing light. The next light about a mile down should be Broadway st (You'll see a family dollar. Make a Right. Keep going 2 miles or so and you will see a Regions Bank on the LEFT. Keep going another mile or 2 and you will see the [name of super market] where they will cash the check for .50 cents on the RIGHT. The supermarket is probably the more economical way to cash the check, because if you only get 1 hour for lunch, and you may have to run additional errands. Plus, the bank will be busy during that time. The supermarket is open late. (Again, the school may not have taken that into acct.).
There is also a laundry mat adjacent to the supermarket where you cash the check (cross over the street). Laundry mat closes at 11pm, last load around 10pm. There is a laundry mat closer to the Red Roof Inn off of Ingram Blvd, but they close earlier.
For those of you who won't have a car, good luck. They do give you a ride to/from the school (actually, you can walk). But the vehicle is definetly a convenience. Especially when we had to go to the clinic (no transportation provided).
Q: Anything they stress about the physical?
A: DO NOT Fail the drug test. If you feel you will not make it, talk to the director before going. They will not have you arrested or thrown in jail. But you will not go and take the drug test. ONCE YOU FAIL THE DRUG TEST, IT'S OVER. It stains your DAC record permanently and virtually NO Trucking Company will touch you. Your grant (if you have one) will be cancelled immediately.
They won't hold it against you if you need to wait a few days (or longer) to take the drug test. At the worst, they will just ask you to re-enroll in another class.
The Drug test is PASS OR FAIL, and you want to PASS the first time
More later on. Gotta finish the homework. Perhaps the orientation will be a bit more organized today.
Okay. There is some important info I have to update:
One of the reasons why this RRRTP program was somewhat disorganized is because there was a deadline to use this program. Jan 31, 2008. They had it for several months, but [from what I understand] the feds were supposed to administer it to several schools their home state. The student would get their CDL permit in their homestate first, then get the CDL at the closest Roadmaster (or other schools) CDL school in the country.
Well, all the other schools were taking their own time on the program, So the head campus (centrally located AR campus) decided to implement this centralized method of just sending anyone to the AR location.
It was originally for Hurricane Katrina Victims. But it got opened for AR and military vets. And the online test you had to score a certain score, but they loosened that requirement. The only 3 things the recruiter does is ensure:
1) your DMV is clean (or minor infractions; NO suspensions).
2) clean (or minor) criminal record.
3) No drug convictions.
They are sort of "winging" it, but so far the secretaries have done a good job. This thread puts out some of the claification necessary.
There is an obligation. You have to work. Not for any particular company, but you do have to work. You have to have a pre-hire letter before you leave school. (that's really simple). You can switch companies as many times as you want. But you do have to work. You can't just take the school and then just go home. That would be truly no-obligation. But it is as close as you are going to get. Besides, what could you do with the training without at least 3 months - 1 year of experience anyway
They fax your transcript to your job when you report to orientation (you'll get the originals in the mail). I'll be honest, they said that there was no gov't instruction that said the exact minimum amount of days that you have to work. They follow up after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and 120 days. So 120 days of driving from orientation to OTR (combined, not necessarily at one single company).
You can pick any mom/pop or major carrier to work with that you can get accepted to.
You sign a few papers and one of them is that you will have to pay back the money if you do not go and work. The object of the program is to get people to go to work. It's about $7,000 worth. So by the time you are done training with your orientation and starter company training, 120 days will be complete.
There may also be a Teamster's hookup for the top 35 grads in the RRRTP program. No guarantees, but you get to talk to a Teamster recruiter or representative.
At this point, I will probably not update this thread again except to add some additional experience and then again when I am finished with the school.
I can say that the instruction is excellent so far. Class size is about 15-25 for single-instruction for the CDL permit. Then the actual truck driving there's about 3-5 students per truck.
Heard some horror stories about carrier company-owned schools (Swift, Werner, Prime, etc). They rush you though class and put like 25-50 people per truck for training. Comments appreciated.
Well I passed the on-line deal and they just called and want me to start school Monday! Gees! Not sure if I really want to go to school just to learn something I've already been doing! LOL! But the pretty much guarantee a job. Soooo may see yall Monday.
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