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How much does beauty school cost?

By Laurie McLachlan Brown

How much does it cost to attend a beauty college?  Probably the better question is, “which cosmetology or make-up school is best for me in terms of curriculum, the quality of its instructors, its reputation for job placement, and, most importantly, how much financial aid can be awarded?”

Tuition is just a number to start with.

Estimates for beauty school costs run the gamut nationwide.  Larger, metropolitan areas with high demand and even higher expectations may charge up to $15,000 for a degree in hair styling.  On the other hand, programs in nail artistry, skin care, and make-up are considerably less, averaging between $3,000 and $6,000.

Remember, however, you get what you pay for.  Top rated salons, day spas, resorts, hotels, and medical offices look for students from highly reputable beauty academies and institutes that have fully prepared its graduates for the demands of a career in the fashion and/or professional industries. By nature, these schools will charge a premium in terms of tuition. 

Smart students don’t stop at the dollar signs, knowing that fully accredited cosmetology schools will typically offer thousands of scholarships for beauty school, significantly reducing the ‘sticker price shock.’

First, choose the right hair styling, esthetician, nail technician, or barber program for your needs—without regard for price.  The most efficient method of starting your search for an accredited academy is through an online beauty school directory, such as Then, make an appointment to meet with the admissions counselor to determine how much financial aid and scholarships you are eligible for.  That’s when the real numbers come into play. 

For example, here’s how Alexandra, a student from Pennsylvania, tackles her tuition challenge:

 Program rate                                   $10,000

Financial aid                                    $  4,000

Applying for scholarships:           $  2,000

Student loan:                                    $  2,000

Monthly payment:                        $ 167 (for a 12-month program)

Each year, tens of thousands of beauty school students like Alexandra find affordable ways to put themselves through design college—some earning up to 75 percent of the required tuition through grants for beauty school, aid, and scholarships—and you can too.

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