How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost?

The average cost of tuition at cosmetology school in 2019-2020 was just under $15,000 per year, but it can be as high as $25,000 or as low as $1,000, depending on where you go. While tuition is the bulk of the cost, there are other fees you’ll have to consider if you’ll plan to enroll in a cosmetology program.

The cost of cosmetology school is based on several factors, such as where you live, if the school has a particular specialization, and your state’s requirements for the number of hours you need to train before becoming licensed. Remember that program fees are only one component of cosmetology school costs: you may also need to pay for housing, supplies, and books.

Beauty School Tuition

Aside from living accommodation (which we’ll discuss below), tuition fees will likely be the highest cost of attending cosmetology school. In 2019-2020, the average cost of tuition in a Title IV program was $14,943. Fees can be much more or much less than this, depending on many factors, including:

  • Location: big metropolitan city or small regional town
  • Whether it’s a university, technical college, or another type of institution
  • If it’s a private or public school or attached to a big brand name
  • Whether supplies/books are included in the fees
  • How many hours the course requires
  • Whether you study full-time or part-time

To give you an idea of the range of costs at different types of schools across the country, check out the following table. In general, private schools affiliated with a hairdressing or cosmetics brand (such as Paul Mitchell or Aveda) are among the most expensive, especially when they’re in a major city.

On the other end of the scale, community colleges in more rural areas are among the most affordable. But there’s still a wide range within these broad parameters and being located outside a major city isn’t always an indication of lower-than-average tuition.

Cosmetology School (Metro Area) 2019-2020 Tuition Cost
Aveda Institute (Los Angeles, California) $24,474
Paul Mitchell (San Diego, California) $21,867
Arkansas Beauty School (Little Rock, Arkansas) $19,805
Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy (Dallas, Texas) $17,600
New England School of Hair Design (Lebanon, New Hampshire) $17,301
Denham Springs Beauty School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) $14,500
UCAS University of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (San Antonio, Texas) $14,025
French Academy of Cosmetology (Spring Lake, Michigan) $12,370
Sierra Beauty College (Merced, California) $9,600
Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (Scranton, Pennsylvania) $8,625
Technical College of the Rockies (Delta, Colorado) $7,421
Warrensburg Area Career Center (Kansas City, Missouri) $5,940
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (Nashville, Tennessee) $4,887

Tuition data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2021.

Fortunately, financial aid may be available at some schools, depending on your situation. As you check out schools, ask if they are Title IV programs with access to federal financial aid and if they offer any scholarships to incoming students.

Room and Board for Cosmetology Students

The cost of room and board for cosmetology school will depend on whether you can live at home with family while you study at cosmetology school or whether you need to move to a different town, or even out of state, to attend. If you’re in the latter group, it’s important to budget for this cost, which can be large.

Some cosmetology schools have dorm housing, which can be a good way to make new friends if you have to move away from home to study. For example, La James College in Mason City, Iowa, has dorm accommodations for female beauty school students. This is an economical option that works out to about $150 per month for the room, much cheaper than most private housing options. The cosmetology college also keeps a list of non-school-owned apartments that they recommend if students prefer to live elsewhere.

Not all cosmetology schools have dorms, though. You may need to rent a room in a private house. The cost of this varies enormously around the country, with big cities like New York or Los Angeles costing much more than smaller towns. For example, the average rent in the District of Columbia is the highest in the country, at $2,324 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Other high-cost states are Massachusetts, California, and New Jersey. West Virginia has the lowest average rents, at $628 per month. Other lower-cost states are Montana, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Kansas.

Cost of Cosmetology Student Kits, Books, and Other Course Materials

Cosmetology school students will also need to pay for a range of other supplies, including course books, tablets, and beauty equipment and tools of the trade. Here are some average costs from higher-cost, average, and lower-cost cosmetology schools:

School Annual Tuition Average Books and Supplies Cost
Aveda Institute (Los Angeles, California) $24,474 $2,990
Denham Springs Beauty School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) $14,500 $950
Tennessee College of Applied Technology (Nashville, Tennessee) $4,887 $1,256

How Much Is a Student Kit for Beauty School?

The cost of a student kit for beauty school depends on its size and what’s included but is typically between $1,200 and $2,500.

A cosmetology student kit contains all the things you’ll need to practice your cosmetology specialty. Unlike many other subjects that just require textbooks, cosmetology is a practical field, and you’ll be tested on your ability to use specialist equipment. For example, student hairdressing kits at Paul Mitchell cosmetology schools include:

  • Combs and brushes
  • Mannequin heads
  • Hot styling tools
  • Shears, scissors, and clips
  • Capes and aprons
  • Books and other reading materials

Incidental Expenses for Beginning Beauty Professionals

Tuition fees, accommodation, and course supplies aren’t the only costs associated with studying at beauty school. You’ll also encounter several other associated costs that should be budgeted for. For example, incidental expenses for beauty school can include:

  • Parking costs or public transport: Parking passes and bus or subway tickets in larger cities can be costly. Check whether the campus you attend has free or subsidized parking/transport for students or whether you can find accommodation within walking distance of the school to save on this cost.
  • Student kit upgrade: Some student kits can be quite generic and don’t necessarily provide the best equipment for your specialization. If your focus is on haircutting rather than makeup artistry, for instance, you may choose to invest in a kit with better-quality scissors than makeup brushes.
  • Licensing fees: Once you’ve completed cosmetology school, you will need to sit for licensing exams before you’re allowed to work in the field. These fees vary from state to state. For example, in Maryland, the fee for a cosmetologist license is $25, but in California, the initial fee to take a cosmetology exam and receive a license is $125.

Of course, if you plan to set up your own business rather than work for someone else, there will be a range of other associated costs, such as salon rent, furniture, utilities, accounting services, and marketing/advertising. This isn’t a common path for newly trained cosmetologists, though. Most prefer to get work experience as an employee for a few years before branching out as an independent business owner (if at all).

Sample Budget for Beauty Students

As you can see, many educational and locational factors determine the cost of cosmetology school. Before you enroll, it can help to develop a budget to see just how much you’ll need to make it work. Many people just consider tuition, but you’ll also want to factor in living expenses while in school—especially if you’ll be attending full-time and won’t have a significant income.

The following is a sample cost of attendance budget for Jane. She’s attending a private beauty school in small-town Michigan (French Academy of Cosmetology in Spring Lake, Michigan). She will rent a room in a house with other students, and she doesn’t need to use her car to get to school, so she can keep transportation costs low. Here’s approximately what she can expect to pay during her full-time, 10-month, 1,500-hour course, not including personal items or leisure activities, as estimated by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Expense Cost
Tuition and Fees $12,370
Books and Supplies $1,650
Off Campus Room and Board $11,532
Michigan State Cosmetology License $63
Total Cost of Attending Cosmetology School $25,600 ($2,560/month for 10 months)
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