How to Get Financial Aid for Cosmetology School

Schools of all professions and trades have different resources when it comes to financial aid and how to pay tuition. Many accredited cosmetology schools accept federal financial aid. The first step in getting this aid is contacting your school’s Financial Aid Office and filing your FAFSA®.

Unfortunately, federal aid doesn’t always cover the cost completely. If you have a passion for hair, makeup, and beauty treatments, here are some resources to help cover your costs!

Average cost of cosmetology school

The cost of attending cosmetology school varies from school to school, but the national average is less than you might think, at roughly $10,000. With the average program length taking around one year to complete, this means that most students will not have to go very far in debt, if at all when looking for options on how to pay for school.

The projected growth in this field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for barbers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists, is expected to grow approximately 8% from 2018-2028! This means that students could quickly find a job in their field after graduation and be able to pay down their debt sooner than anticipated.

How long does cosmetology school take?

Now that you know your options for financial aid, you should know and understand how long you will be in school, as this will affect how much your school will cost. Generally speaking, class is 6-8 hours a day for five days a week, to simulate working in your profession.

It is important to note that each state has its own specific licensing requirements, which could impact the length of the program you have to complete to become licensed in your state. While most programs take roughly one year to complete, choosing to attend school full time or part-time could impact the length of the program and how long it takes to become licensed for work.  

Federal Financial Aid

Many cosmetology schools are accredited and accept federal financial aid. This means cosmetology students could be eligible for the same aid as students who pursue a degree at a more traditional college.

While some of this aid is awarded based on financial need, like the Pell Grant, federal aid also opens the door to loans with low-interest rates and repayment plans explicitly geared towards students. To find out how much federal aid you’re eligible for, the first step is filing FAFSA®.

FAFSA®, also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a requirement when applying for many scholarships as well.


Scholarships are free money awarded to students that don’t need to be paid back. Although some scholarship applications can be quite lengthy, it’s worth the time to apply, and could pay off big in the end.

There are several scholarships offered only to cosmetology students listed here. These scholarships offer payouts ranging from $1,200 to $16,000! Other scholarship databases like and are also great resources when searching for cosmetology scholarships.

It’s also a good idea to speak with your school’s financial aid office and ask about internal scholarships they might offer specifically for incoming students.


Loans should only be accepted after all efforts have been exhausted when searching for gift aid like grants and scholarships. If you decide to secure student loans to pay for school, it’s important to conduct thorough research. For instance, you’ll be able to choose between private and federal loans.

Federal loans come in subsidized and unsubsidized options, which means that one defers interest accrual until after you graduate and the other accrues interest as you start attending school. Private loans are generally secured through a bank or another private lender and not federally funded. These are usually the last resort if all other resources are not enough to cover your tuition costs.

Private loans have stricter repayment terms and come with higher interest rates, so be careful when you are looking into these and don’t sign anything if you are not comfortable!