How to avoid scams and find legit cosmetology school loans

Becoming a hairdresser, colorist or beautician is a dream job for many people. It’s a very different path than spending four years in college and getting a desk job, although sometimes cosmetology school credit is needed.

Among the attractions, a role in a salon allows you to work with your hands, meet new people, have a flexible schedule and create beautiful looks. Also, top stylists can make $25 or more an hour, and demand for cosmetologists is expected to remain strong, so this can be a way to earn a solid income without a bachelor’s degree.

But the appeal of a career in cosmetology also makes the beauty schools industry full of scams. Along with hundreds of reputable schools, there are those that rob students of their hard-earned money and leave them with no job prospects. Even after dodgy schools close, alumni can still pay the price on cosmetic school loans.

Here’s what to look out for and how to find legitimate cosmetology school student loans.

Beware of cosmetology school loans from corrupt schools

An important case against a cosmetology school involved the Jon Louis Beauty School in New York. The school has been accused of misusing federal student loan funds and targeting low-income and non-English speaking students in order to burden them with debt to make a profit.

Jon Louis and other similar schools have closed, but some students are still struggling with school loans for cosmetics. Others paid thousands of dollars and borrowed money to go to school but never received the education and credentials they needed.

Students have reported failing state licensing exams and only qualify for menial salon jobs, such as washing hair or tidying up at the end of the day. Many end up unemployed after graduation and end up taking low-paying jobs in fast food or retail to make ends meet.

When a school peddles fraudulent degrees, it can result in missing out on the education and training you need and mountains of loans that need to be repaid.

If a secondary school program sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The USA Federal Trade Commission warns prospective students to look out for schools that make lofty promises that seem hard to keep, such as:

  • No exams and no coursework
  • Earn significant course credits for your past work experience
  • A flat fee instead of paying per course or semester
  • The opportunity to graduate in a very short time window

Another problem for students seeking help paying for trade school is student loan scams. When seeking financial aid, the US Department of Education advises students to beware of loans that sound too good to be true, such as asking you to sign a third-party power of attorney.

Just because an email or post bears the seal of the Department of Education doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate lender. If you think you’ve been the victim of a loan scam or want to look for a potential lender, you can Contact the Federal Trade Commission or yours Attorney General’s Office.

Identifying a reputable beauty school

Natyssa Taras works as a Licensed Hairstylist and Regional Instructor at Eufora International, which provides training opportunities for individuals in the hair and beauty industry. After years in the business, she urges potential beauticians to do their homework before choosing a school.

“Aspiring barbers who attend beauty schools should first seek accreditation,” Taras said. “This comes from the state where the school is located, its board of education, as well as licensing groups like the New York State Beauty School Association.” Accreditation is a key indicator that the school is preparing students for employment after graduation.

In addition, Taras recommends that prospective students visit the schools in person.

“Websites can only tell you so much,” Taras said. “Talk to teachers about post-graduation training, internships and apprenticeships. Instructors should be state certified as each state has its own program for professionals to become licensed cosmetology instructors.”

Getting credit for cosmetology school

The cost of a beauty school can vary depending on the location and brand of the school.

“The average cost in my New York area is $12,000 for a 36-week program,” Taras said. “A ‘brand’ school like Paul Mitchell, Sassoon and others will cost more, but be careful you’re only paying a premium for a name. Do your research and talk to current students and alumni when you can.”

Schools can cost anywhere $5,000 to $20,000 in class, with additional costs for room, board, textbooks and transport. The Empire Beauty School estimates the cost of textbooks and supplies could add up to an additional $2,000 to $3,000 a year.

When it comes to paying for school, you have more options if you attend an accredited school; Most federal loans are only available if the school you choose is an accredited institution.

If your school has the necessary credentials, you can apply for financial aid with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), just like you would for a four-year university. If you have a relatively lower income, you may qualify for a Pell grant to cover the cost of your education that you don’t have to pay back.

Even if you don’t qualify for a scholarship, federal student loans have low interest rates and offer repayment programs that can make your monthly payments affordable. Always check first if you are eligible for a government student loan before approaching private student loans.

You may also be eligible for federal or state grants that do not have to be repaid. The American Association of Cosmetology Schools too offers resources about available scholarships and scholarship programs.

If federal loans or grant programs aren’t an option for you, start looking for personal loans from reputable lenders, including banks and credit unions. In other cases, beauty schools offer financing themselves or offer payment plans to make things easier for you, e.g. B. through loans for cosmetology schools.

Avoiding scams at vocational schools

Whether you’re investigating beauty schools or another professional school, be sure to choose a reputable school with a proven track record of properly training students and assisting them in finding jobs.

As mentioned above, illegitimate schools can attract students with low-cost programs or promises of quick coursework. These so-called diploma mills could take your money and leave you without the necessary education or certification to pursue your chosen career. Schools may have prestigious-sounding names with words like “national,” “federal,” or “institute,” but that doesn’t legitimize them.

In order to confirm that a school is on par and avoid cheating, it is important to do your homework. Here are some things to check:

  • Find out about the school’s degree or certification offerings
  • Look for accreditation for both the school and each program on the website and marketing materials
  • Contact industry organizations like the American Association of Cosmetology Schools to verify a school’s membership and accreditation
  • Search the Council for Higher Education Databasewhich contains information on 8,500 post-secondary schools, including cosmetology programs, and information on accrediting bodies
  • Call the school and ask to be put through to recent graduates
  • Find out about the school on job boards and social media
  • Check the school’s timetable for graduation – if it seems too quick to get a proper education, it could be a scam
  • Contact your state Attorney General to see if a school has pending appeals

Embarking on a career in cosmetology can be rewarding and provide you with a solid income. However, if you are considering attending beauty school, make sure you understand the accreditation required in your state and the qualifications you will need to find a job after graduation.

Alli Romano contributed to this report.

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