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Student Loans

Does Financial Aid Cover Cosmetology School?

If you attend an accredited cosmetology program at least half-time, you can use federal financial aid to pay for cosmetology school. You might also be able to use private financial aid, including scholarships and loans, to cover costs. Tuition can cost $10,000 to $20,000 per year, but you may not need to pay out-of-pocket costs if you’re an aspiring cosmetologist.

Read on to find out about the different types of financial aid available for cosmetology school and which is best for you.​

How much does financial aid cover for cosmetology school?

Financial aid could cover as much as the full cost of cosmetology school attendance. The amount of financial aid you get will depend on factors such as your financial need, credit history, and other qualifying criteria. 

The order in which you explore your financial aid options for cosmetology school is important because it can save you money in the long run. Consider looking at grants and scholarships first because they’re essentially free money you don’t need to repay. 

Then consider federal student loans, which offer more unique benefits. Explore private loans as your last option. To help you understand the ins and outs of these options, we’ll go into more detail below.

Cosmetology school scholarships and grants

Scholarships and grants are a great way to receive financial aid without having to borrow money. In most cases, you won’t have to pay the money back as long as you meet the requirements. Depending on the organization granting these types of financial aid, qualified applicants may receive hundreds to thousands of dollars. 

You can find scholarships and grants at your school’s financial aid office as well as professional and nonprofit organizations.

Scholarship or grantMax amount availableEssay required?
Great Clips Scholarship$5,000 ☑️
Dermalogica Scholarship$1,400☑️
Empire Beauty Schools Scholarship$3,000Depends on scholarship
Beauty Changes Lives ScholarshipVariesDepends on scholarship
Professional Beauty Association Scholarship$5,000Depends on scholarship

Specific scholarships for cosmetology school

Many cosmetology schools and organizations offer scholarships specific to those wanting to enter the industry. For example, Great Clips gives away more than $100,000 in annual scholarships. You might also get a six-month tuition scholarship from Dermalogica for one of its programs.

You may need to meet certain qualifying criteria to apply for scholarships.  For instance, Empire Beauty Schools has scholarship programs for high school students, good attendance, and those who recently lived in an anti-domestic violence shelter. 

You can also apply for one of the many national scholarships from the Professional Beauty Association or the nonprofit Beauty Changes Lives. You can search for private scholarships through the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS). The AACS partners with many industry groups and associations to offer scholarships to cosmetology students. These organizations’ specific scholarships and deadlines change, so check back often to see what’s available.

Specific grants for cosmetology school

Most private entities use the word “scholarships” to describe funding, whether it’s need- or merit-based. 

Because the terms “scholarship” and “grant” may be interchangeable among private organizations, consider searching for both types of private financial aid. For example, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools shares scholarships and grants on its website. 

You don’t need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be eligible for private aid. Instead, you apply with the school or association offering a private grant or scholarship.

General scholarships and grants

You can start out searching for private grants and scholarships by contacting your school’s financial aid office. You may also be able to find them using a scholarship database (such as our guide to scholarships), along with checking the websites of professional organizations. 

Most scholarships target a specific group or need, such as cosmetology school students, women, or people with specific disabilities. Targeting your search to what’s unique to you makes it easier to find scholarships and increases the odds you’ll get one—or several.

When you submit your scholarship or grant application, provide all the necessary details to show why you’re the best applicant. Check application deadlines and submit your application on time. 

Federal financial aid

Aid optionEligibility req’sAmounts
Federal loanMust attend an accredited school at least half-time & submit FAFSALimits differ for dependent & independent students
Pell GrantSignificant financial need, attend accredited school at least half-time, & submit FAFSAUp to $7,395 per academic year
Work-studyFinancial need, attend accredited school participating in federal work-study program, & submit FAFSABased on job, hours worked, & wage

You can pay for cosmetology school using federal financial aid as long as you attend an accredited school. Check whether your school is accredited for federal aid

Accredited beauty schools must register with the U.S. Department of Education and report regular student loan payment statistics to offer federal financial aid. If the default rate is too high, the government might impose sanctions on the school until rates improve.

As you compare cosmetology schools and see whether they’re accredited, consider whether they’re for-profit or nonprofit businesses. Many for-profit entities’ main goal is to generate profits. In contrast, nonprofits often focus on filling community needs at a lower cost.

Research suggests half of the U.S. student loan defaults are from students at for-profit colleges, despite just 10% of students enrolling in for-profit colleges. Before enrolling, research your school’s statistics as reported to the federal government to see how it compares.

Our expert’s take

Chloe Moore


The financial aid options for cosmetology school are similar to those of a traditional four-year college. Because the total cost to attend cosmetology school is less than many four-year colleges, you might be able to stretch your financial aid further.

Federal student loans

The primary type of federal aid is federal student loans, which include Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.  

Federal student loans give you access to money upfront to cover the cost of your education. You’ll repay your federal student loans over time with interest. Most repayment periods start at 10 years but could extend to 25 years.

With Subsidized Loans, the U.S. Department of Education pays the interest as long as you’re in school half-time, when you defer your loans, and during the six-month grace period after you graduate or leave school.

With Unsubsidized Loans, you’re the one responsible for interest. Annual and aggregate loan limits may also differ depending on what year you’re in your undergraduate studies and whether you count as a dependent or independent student.

Pell Grants

Students with significant financial need may receive Pell Grants from the federal government. Unlike federal student loans, you don’t need to repay Pell Grant funds. Students are eligible for up to $7,395 in federal Pell Grants for the current academic year.

When you submit your annual FAFSA, you may qualify for a combination of Pell Grants and federal student loans. Many students are eligible for both types of financial aid.

Work-study programs

Students qualifying for a work-study program work a set number of hours each week at an assigned job in exchange for financial aid. Students earn the equivalent of the federal minimum wage or more for each hour worked.

Whether you’re approved for funding through a work-study program depends on what your school offers, your financial need, and when you apply for aid. Work-study funding is limited, so the earlier you submit your FAFSA, the more likely you can participate if you have a financial need.

Not all schools participate in the federal work-study program. You can contact your school’s financial aid office to see whether this program is available. Work-study programs are often limited to available on-campus jobs, but some schools also partner with private companies or nonprofits to offer off-campus jobs.

State student aid

Some states offer financial aid to students attending college, including accredited cosmetology schools. Many states use your FAFSA as your state aid application, but others might want you to submit a separate one. The types and amounts of state aid vary.

Learn about available state aid grant opportunities in your region by:

  • Contacting your state to learn more. The types of aid your state offers, if any, and which departments administer it will vary. The U.S. Department of Education provides a list of state contacts to make it easier to get the information.
  • Discussing the options with your financial aid office. Your school’s financial aid office is often the best place to start for this information. It should be able to tell you whether your state offers a cosmetology-specific grant program since this is its area of focus.
  • Searching for grants online. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has a state financial aid program directory you can use to find a list of grants by state. Your school’s financial aid office might also use this resource.

State financial aid might not be as generous as federal aid, but it can still help cover the cost of cosmetology school. Also, grants often don’t need to be repaid unless you fail to meet the grant’s requirements (e.g., finishing school). These can make going to school much more affordable.

Private student loans

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans are issued based on creditworthiness. Your chances of loan approval, the amount you qualify for, and your rates and terms will depend on factors including your (and your cosigner’s) credit score, credit history, and income level.

Private student loans have fewer benefits than federal student loans. Plus, you might pay lower interest rates on federal loans, especially if you have less-than-perfect credit. Federal loans always have fixed interest rates, while private student loans can have fixed or variable rates. We always recommend maximizing federal student loans before turning to private student loans.

If you’re looking for a private student loan for cosmetology school, check out our guide to student loans for cosmetology school.

How to apply for financial aid to cover cosmetology school

To apply for federal financial aid, cosmetology students must fill out and submit the FAFSA each academic year. Be sure to follow the instructions. Missing or inaccurate information could delay your application being processed.  

You may qualify for the following types of federal financial aid:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Pell Grant
  • Work-study program

You may also need to fill out the FAFSA each year to qualify for state-specific aid, but some states may have their own application forms. For example, students planning to attend cosmetology school in Florida must submit the Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA)

Private student loans have unique application forms and processes depending on the lender. In most cases, you’ll need to submit your full contact details, Social Security number, and proof of income. If you’re applying with a cosigner, this person will also need to submit their information.