Our survey of beauty school students and graduates showed that more than 70% were either "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" that they would be unable to pay for beauty school. However, when they learned the total cost, about 57% said they thought the price was "surprisingly cheap" or "affordable."
Though "expensive" is relative, cosmetology programs generally cost less than four-year degrees. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, the overall cost of traditional bachelor's programs ranges from $17,797 to $46,013, depending on the type of school. Over the past ten years, prices have increased by as much as 31%, and costs continue to rise.
Cosmetology school, on the other hand, costs $10,000 on average. In addition, cosmetology programs can take as little as 12 months to complete. This means you may be able to enter the working world quickly. And, as they say, time is money!
The actual price of cosmetology education varies based on several factors, but location and supply costs are two of the major considerations.
Cosmetology School Location
Cosmetology schools in or near major metropolitan cities like New York City or Bostonwill likely have higher costs. In contrast, schools in smaller, more rural areas or suburbs usually warrant a lower price tag.
Our survey of 55 cosmetology schools found the cost of cosmetology school in a large city averages between $10,000 and $20,000. The same type of comprehensive cosmetology program in a rural area could cost closer to $6,500.
Be sure to request information from a handful of the top beauty schools near you to accurately compare your options and determine the total cost of your beauty school tuition and supplies.
Beauty School Supplies
When you contact schools and discuss your financial obligations, don’t let the conversation end with tuition. Every beauty school has some forms of fees for supplies, use of equipment, and other learning materials you may need. Be sure you ask what the final cost will be for attending school – from start to finish.
A significant cost to factor in when comparing programs is the cost of supplies—in general, cosmetology students are expected to purchase and maintain their own supplies.
Ask to see a supply list, which will usually include:
Some schools have specific vendors they recommend purchasing supplies and kits from that match with their particular curriculum. Other cosmetology schools include the cost of supplies right into the total cost of tuition.
You may have noticed that the cosmetology school websites you peruse have net price calculators. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education began requiring all Title IV post-secondary institutions—schools that process federal student aid—enrolling full-time students to feature this tool on their website. This net price calculator helps students estimate the total price they can expect to pay for beauty school, including the cost of tuition and fees, books and supplies, and room and board (if applicable), as well as the contribution of any grant aid or other financial aid.
Many cosmetology schools, like Empire Beauty Schools, offer a full list of scholarships and financial aid for their institutions.
Some accredited and non-accredited cosmetology schools also offer private grants and scholarships to qualified students to cover cosmetology school costs. In addition to speaking with school advisors, we recommend performing your own research about outside scholarship opportunities as well.
There are also numerous scholarships for cosmetology school you can apply for, though many students are not aware of them. In fact, we were shocked to discover in our survey that only 22% of beauty school students applied for the scholarships available to them.
Don’t be one of the students who overlooks these opportunities!
Scholarships do not have to be paid back, as long as you meet its terms and obligations. This means…apply for all the awards you can find, as they are essentially free money for your education! You can check out our full list of scholarships and check back often, as we update the list regularly.
Some of the cosmetology scholarships you could apply for include:
And of course… Beauty Schools Marketing Group offers our own $2,500 scholarship to help you pay for beauty school! Be sure to apply!
One of the great things about cosmetology is the number of specialized programs, opportunities for training, and continuing education available. If you choose a more specific program, like esthetics, nail technology, or makeup artistry, the cost of beauty school could be much less! These programs often cost anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the beauty program and location of the cosmetology school.
Common specialty program areas in cosmetology include, but are not limited to:
Don't let the price of beauty school tuition be the obstacle that keeps you from pursuing your dreams. In addition to planning and saving, make sure you exhaust all your options for scholarships, grants, financing, payment plans, and loans to ensure that you can pursue your dreams of becoming a licensed beauty professional.
There are three main types of financial aid:
Many accredited cosmetology schools offer a mix of all three types of financial aid. Low-cost schools that offer certificates or workshops might also provide financing options, since federal loans may not cover them. This can be true even in programs that aren’t accredited or mandatory.
Cosmetology schools may vary significantly in cost, but price is not an indicator of quality! When choosing a school, don't only focus on the potential costs. What matters is whether the school is the best fit for you.
A few of our favorite schools are listed below. Remember, just like other schools, their locations impact costs. Check them out and see if any are a good fit for you!
Bellus Academy (California and Kansas)
These schools offer a cosmetology program and a variety of specialties. Remember, specialization can affect cost!
Aveda Institute (Nationwide)
Aveda students receive a well-rounded education and enjoy a 74% job placement rate upon graduation.
Beyond 21st Century Beauty Academy (Santa Fe Springs, California)
Beyond has cosmetology, esthetics, manicuring, and instructor training programs. Students participate in a great deal of hands-on training.
Tricoci University of Beauty Culture (Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin)
Students can focus their studies on cosmetology, esthetics, barbering, and other specialties. It is even possible to complete some coursework online!
Temple Annapolis: A Paul Mitchell Partner School (Annapolis, Maryland)
The school offers a full cosmetology program that includes standard cosmetology coursework, but also in-demand training in subjects like nail art and multicultural techniques.
After learning about the costs associated with cosmetology school, you may have new questions. Whether you are still deciding if this education is right for you, curious about what coursework might cover, or are simply lost, we are here to help! Many answers can be found on our page about cosmetology schools in general.