How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · May 08, 2023 · 5 minute read

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How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost?

Interested in a career as a cosmetologist? Enrolling in an accredited beauty school is a smart first step to take.

One important consideration is how much cosmetology school costs. Tuition can run several thousands of dollars per year and will likely be one of your biggest expenses. But there are other costs to consider as well. Keep reading to learn about the cost of cosmetology school and ways you can help lower your financial burden.

How Much Does Cosmetology School Cost on Average?

Beauty school students can expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for tuition and fees. The cost of cosmetology school can vary based on location. Schools in major cities tend to charge more than those in smaller communities. To get a full list of expected tuition and expenses, contact the school’s admissions office.

How Much Do Books and Materials Cost?

In addition to tuition and fees, you’ll also want to budget for the cost of books and materials. Textbooks alone can range from $2,000 to $3,000 or more, depending on your instructor. Add to that the cost of any supplies and tools you’ll need to help you practice your craft. Think shampoos, conditioners, styling products, scissors, electric clippers, mannequins, and more. Your cosmetology school may provide some of these materials, but others you’ll need to buy.

How Can You Reduce the Cost of Cosmetology School?

Though cosmetology school typically takes less time to complete than a four-year college, the costs of those few semesters can add up quickly. The good news is, there are different ways you can help lower your financial burden.

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships may be based on merit or financial need and generally don’t need to be paid back. Cosmetology schools can point you toward scholarship opportunities, or you can do an online scholarship search to find out what’s available to you.

Grants are typically based on financial need and are offered by the federal government, state government, private companies, and nonprofits. They’re generally awarded in a federal financial aid package. Like most scholarships, grants don’t have to be paid back.

Consider Student Loans

Student loans can help you cover the cost of attending cosmetology school. In general, it’s a good idea to exhaust all possible federal student loan options first before applying for private student loans. Federal student loans have a fixed interest rate that’s usually lower than private loans and also provide certain safety nets like forbearance or deferment.

Recommended: The Differences Between Grants, Scholarships, and Loans

Fill Out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Filling out the FAFSA application is how students can find out how much federal financial aid they’re eligible for, including loans, grants, and scholarships. The FAFSA applies to a single academic year, which means you’ll need to submit a new form each year. To maximize your potential aid, aim to turn in the FAFSA before the annual deadline.

Recommended: FAFSA Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

Save on Textbooks

Cosmetology school textbooks can be pricey. To help lower costs, look into renting textbooks or buying them used. If you do purchase textbooks, consider selling them once the semester ends and putting that cash towards the next set of books.

Rent Supplies

You may be able to rent certain supplies or supplies instead of purchasing them. This is especially helpful for equipment you won’t need after graduation, like practice mannequins.

Live at Home

If possible, move in with family or friends while you’re in school to save on housing and living expenses. If that’s not an option, look into renting a place with roommates and splitting the costs.

Find a Part-Time Job

Getting a part-time job can help you cover some of the cost of cosmetology school — and maybe even take out less in student loans. Look for gigs with flexible hours that allow you to more easily balance work and class. Consider working in an on-campus student salon, if one is offered at your school. Besides the additional practice, you could also make some extra money.

The Takeaway

The cost of cosmetology school can be significant. Tuition runs anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, and textbooks, supplies and living expenses can add to your financial burden. But there are ways to cover costs, including scholarships, grants, a part-time job, and student loans.

3 Student Loan Tips

Here are our top three tips to help you understand and navigate student loans.

Complete the FAFSA

Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should still fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.

Understand Your Borrowing Options

Would-be borrowers will want to understand the different types of student loans peppering the landscape: private student loans, federal Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and more.

Consider Federal Aid First

It’s a good idea to exhaust all available federal aid options before exploring private student loans.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


How much is one year of tuition at an accredited cosmetology school?

Beauty school students can expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for tuition and fees. But the amount you’ll pay may vary depending on where your school is located.

How long is cosmetology school?

It depends on your program. The national average for a full cosmetology program is between 1,400 to 1,600 hours, according to the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. Full-time students typically finish that program in less than two years. But certain programs are shorter and can be completed in six months or so. For instance, the national average for nail technology is 300 hours; for electrologists is 500 hours; and for esthetics is 650 hours.

Is a high school diploma required to attend cosmetology school?

Some states require a high school diploma or G.E.D., but others do not. You may also need to be a certain age to apply for beauty school. Check the rules in your state to find out if you’re eligible.

Photo credit: iStock/Kemal Yildirim

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