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Does Financial Aid Cover Cosmetology School?

If you’re looking to attend cosmetology school, you can rest assured knowing there are both federal and private financial aid options for you to take advantage of.

5 min readFeb 1, 2021


When it comes to financial aid, many people might think that it only applies to traditional two-year and four-year colleges. This means students that are attending a professional school, such as cosmetology school, might be unsure if they qualify for any federal or private financial aid.

Aspiring cosmetologists, barbers, and nail technicians can rejoice as financial aid is a possibility while attending school as the average tuition can cost upwards of $10,000 to $20,000 per year.

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

On this page:

  • Federal Financial Aid
  • How to Qualify
  • Pell Grants
  • Work-Study Programs
  • Federal Student Loans
  • State-Specific Aid
  • Private Financial Aid
  • Private Student Loans
  • Cosmetology School Scholarships
  • Cosmetology School Grants
  • General Grants & Scholarships

Federal Financial Aid

Receiving federal aid is a realistic option to pay for cosmetology school, but you will need to attend an accredited school to qualify. Click here to see if your school is accredited for federal financial aid.

To accept federal aid, accredited beauty schools have to be registered with the U.S. Department of Education and report student loan payment statistics on a regular basis. If the default rate is too high, the Department of Education might impose sanctions on that specific school until student loan default rates have improved.

While these measures might seem drastic to some, for-profit schools, including cosmetology schools, have the highest default rates of all the types of post-secondary institutions that receive federal aid.

How to Qualify

In order to qualify for federal aid, cosmetology students must submit a FAFSA application each academic year. Depending on their total needs, they might be eligible to receive the following types of financial aid:

  • Federal Pell Grant
  • ​Work-Study Program
  • Federal Student Loans

You can learn more about the FAFSA and qualifying for federal financial aid in our FAFSA Guide.

Pell Grants

Federal grants do not need to be paid back, but are only awarded to students with the highest financial needs. For the current academic year, students can receive up to $6,345 in federal Pell Grants.

Work-Study Programs

Students that qualify for a work-study program will not have to repay any financial aid received, although they will have to work a specific number of hours each week to receive aid. However, work-study availability might be limited as there are only so many jobs available on-campus.

Federal Student Loans

The final form of federal aid is federal student loans. These include both subsidized and unsubsidized student loans and they all must be repaid. Though there are a few different types of federal student loans, the most common nowadays are Direct Loans. Like most loans, these loans give you access to money upfront but need to be repaid over time with interest.

Interest Rates

Subsidized Direct Loans do not accrue interest charges while the student is enrolled in cosmetology school, but interest will accrue once the loans enter repayment status or the borrower becomes a part-time student. The current interest rate for these loans is 2.75%.

Unsubsidized Direct Loans, on the other hand, accrue interest from the date of origination. For this reason, it is smart to pay at least the interest on your unsubsidized loans while in school. The current interest rate for these loans is 2.75% for undergraduates and 4.30% for graduates or professional students.


The standard repayment terms for both types of student loans is 10 years. Students can also apply for income-based repayment plans that extend the repayment terms to 20 or 25 years by capping the monthly payments at 10% of their adjusted monthly gross income with any remaining loan balance forgiven after the extended repayment period has been completed.

There are also some other repayment plans that may be ideal for your situation. You can learn more about those with our handy infographic on this page.

State-Specific Government Aid

Regarding government aid, some state governments also offer financial aid to students attending cosmetology school within their borders. Iowa will award cash for Iowan students attending a cosmetology or barber school. To qualify for state-based financial aid, the student will still need to apply for the FAFSA. State financial aid might not be as generous as federal aid, but it will still help cover the cost of college.

Private Financial Aid

In addition to federal aid, students should also search for any private aid that is available to them. Most private aid is need-based, although there are merit-based programs as well.

Read on to learn more about your financial aid options for cosmetology school from private sources.

Private Student Loans

Unlike federal student loans, in which anyone attending an accredited school can receive, private student loans are given out based on creditworthiness — or your (or your cosigner’s) credit score. In addition, you or your cosigner’s creditworthiness will also determine the interest rate of your private student loans.

Private student loans typically have higher interest rates as compared to federal student loans but some individuals may be able to receive lower rates if they have a great credit history.

Unlike federal student loans, which all have repayment terms of 10 years to start, borrowers can typically choose among a variety of repayment terms ranging from 5 to 20 years when it comes to private student loans — depending on the lender, of course.

You should know that private student loans typically come with less benefits and protections as compared to federal student loans. For this reason, along with the lower interest rates on federal loans, we always recommend maximizing federal student loans before turning to private student loans.

Specific Scholarships for Cosmetology School

In addition to private student loans, many cosmetology school programs offer local and network scholarships, such as the Paul Mitchell scholarship that any Paul Mitchell School student can apply for. One can also apply for national scholarships offered by the Professional Beauty Association or the American Association of Beauty Schools. If you are already enrolled at a beauty or cosmetology school, certain scholarships can only be redeemed at schools that are registered with certain organizations.

Specific Grants for Cosmetology School

Along with private scholarships, it is also possible to qualify for private grants. For current students, individual cosmetology schools and several national bodies like the American Association of Cosmetology Schools offer needs-based aid. Students do not need to apply for the FAFSA to receive private aid, but they will have to apply directly to the school or association offering the private grant.

General Scholarships & Grants

Finding private scholarships and grants might be a tedious process. Checking a scholarship database (like the one we have created) can be helpful in addition to checking the websites of professional organizations.

If you are an aspiring cosmetology, barber, or beauty school student, the best place to start is the prospective school as they are always trying to attract the best talent. Attending an accredited school will increase the likelihood of receiving aid, be it federal or private.

This article originally appeared on LendEDU.

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