The Cost of Beauty School

cost-of-beauty-schoolThe first thought you probably had after deciding that you’d like to go to cosmetology school was, “Wait – how much is this going to cost?

The answer is probably somewhere in between “more than you wish it did” and “less than you fear.” In truth, it varies depending on where you choose to attend, but the estimated beauty school tuition costs for comprehensive cosmetology programs is around $17,000, with some programs down around the $12,000 area and others as much as $23,000.

It also depends on which area you want to study. If you decide that you want to become a nail technician or become a licensed esthetician, then the cost of beauty school can be less – on average about $5,000 for nail technology and $7,000-9,000 for esthetics.

Other things to consider when you’re comparing the cost of beauty schools are books and supplies. No matter which beauty career you choose to pursue, you will need tools for your trade. Some beauty schools might charge a bit more tuition, but it may cover the costs for beauty books and a student kit to get you started. Others might require that you purchase the elements for your own kit in addition to the tuition costs.

If you’re looking into cosmetology programs, consider that a lot of cosmetology schools are developing guidelines about what they want their students to wear – like all-black clothing. If you’re looking at a cosmetology school like that, it might require a few extra additions to your wardrobe. (Not that shopping is always a bad thing!)

Paying for Beauty School Tuition

Overwhelmed? Starting to feel like there's no way you can afford all of that?

There is good news: Many cosmetology schools offer financial aid and loans to help with the burden of paying for school. The best way to help ensure that you can qualify for financial aid is to make sure that the beauty school you are applying to is accredited. The National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the governing accreditation body of beauty and cosmetology schools. Accredited cosmetology schools are able to grant federal financial aid to their students, as well as specific loans or scholarships to help reduce the cost of cosmetology school and the student's out-of-pocket expenses.

The Basics of Financial Aid for Cosmetology

Once you’ve established that your favorite beauty school is accredited, there are several options available to students for beauty school financial aid and loans. For example, here are several federal grants and financial aid programs available to cosmetology students:

  • Federal Pell Grant: This grant is awarded to students who are enrolled in an undergraduate program. For 2011-2012, the maximum grant award is $5,550. Pell Grants are awarded based on cost of attendance, family contribution and enrollment status and don’t need to be repaid.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): This grant is awarded to students who need additional or exceptional financial aid – generally, this means Pell Grant recipients who have the lowest expected family contributions. Students can receive $100 to $4,000 annually for their schooling, and it’s based on when you apply, your financial need, the amount of other aid you're receiving, your beauty school's funding level, and the policies of your beauty school's financial aid office. These grants do not have to be repaid.
  • Federal Work-Study: This is a work-study program, which provides part-time jobs for students so that they can earn money for expenses while enrolled in beauty school. Generally, the jobs are either related to community service or to your course of study.
  • Federal Perkins Loan: TThese loans are granted through your chosen beauty school. Students can borrow up to $4,000 annually (or $20,000 total), and the amount that is awarded depends on when the student applies, financial need, the amount of other aid received, and availability of school funds. Since this is a loan and not a grant, it will need to be paid off after you’ve completed school.

Want more information on financial aid for cosmetology? FAFSA's web site has all the need-to-know info on federal loan and grant programs. But don’t stop there – don’t forget about checking out cosmetology school scholarships that are available.

Paying for beauty school tuition shouldn't keep you from accomplishing your personal and professional goals to become a cosmetologist or other beauty professional. There are so many options out there – don’t put your dream on hold! offers you the ability to search for a beauty school in your area to find a quality cosmetology institution that fits your needs. Upon completing your program, you can obtain your state cosmetology license and begin a rewarding beauty career.

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