Research Shows Beauty Schools Lead To High Debt



According to the new law, beauty school programs are relatively expensive and burden students with very high student loan debt. report it examined federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Analysis by the libertarian organization Institute for Justice showed how cosmetology schools use billions of dollars in federal aid and coronavirus incentive funding leaving students with poor results.

“School of cosmetology is expensive, time-consuming, risky, rarely pays off in terms of earnings,” Michael Bednarchuk, one of the study’s authors, told Yahoo Finance. “These data show that the current licensing system for cosmetology is a failed model of professional development and mainly serves to transfer wealth from students and taxpayers to cosmetology schools.”

Institute of Justice

Institute of Justice

From 2011 to 2017, 12-month school beauty programs cost an average of about $ 16,100, and students borrowed an average of about $ 7,300 to attend. However, less than one third of the cosmetology students completed their studies on time during the most successful year analyzed. And for those who have done so, the income level of cosmetologists is only about $ 26,000 per year.

According to experts, statistics indicate an industry problem.

“We’ve seen too many of these schools promise a better life for their students, but they end up in a worse position than they started,” Aaron Ament, president of the National Student Advocacy Network, told Yahoo Finance. accreditors; and state and federal regulatory agencies to protect consumers. “

Have you attended a cosmetology school and want to discuss your experience? Email the reporter at

In addition, there are many beauty schools in America: out of 2,698 commercial schools receiving federal funding from the Department of Education (ED), according to the analysis of the College Scorecard from Yahoo Finance, more than 1,000 institutions have the terms “beauty”, “hairdresser”, “cosmetology” , “Hairstyle”, “salon”, “spa”, “make-up”, “aesthetics” or “aesthetics” in their name.

Bednarchuk noted that cosmetology is “one of the most widely licensed professions” and “has some of the most burdensome licensing requirements,” which increases the duration and cost of programs.

“For example, it takes about 1600 hours to study in high school,” he explained, noting that the training includes services such as washing your hair, curling, braiding your hair, applying makeup and so on.

The number of students in these schools is usually lower than in other schools. For example, the commercial institution Arkansas Beauty College had only 8 students. according to, a non-profit American Beauty Institute in Florida 120 students

However, these schools use a significant amount of federal dollars: CARES Act of March 2020. dedicated a quarter of a million to an Arkansas school for institutional purposes as well as for student distribution. The American Institute of Beauty, despite a relatively small number of students, was allocated about 676 thousand dollars.

Cosmopolitian Beauty and Barber School students practice haircuts at their clinic on March 19, 2004 in Annandale, Virginia.  (AFP PHOTOS / Joyce NALCHAYAN)

Cosmopolitian Beauty and Barber School students practice haircuts at their clinic on March 19, 2004 in Annandale, Virginia. (AFP PHOTOS / Joyce NALCHAYAN)

‘MThe rest of the cosmetology students from low-income families “

About 61% of cosmetology students took on student loans in the 2016-2017 academic year, compared with 45% of students overall. On average, these loans were around $ 7,100.

The report notes that the financial burden is highlighted by the fact that “most of the cosmetology students come from low-income families, and most of them must fund their education with financial assistance.”

Many students use their Pella Grants – an as-needed form of assistance provided to low-income students – to participate in these programs. The authors estimate that during the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 60% of cosmetology students received Pell grants (compared to 55% of college students overall).

The report notes that even graduates of these programs often find it difficult to consider the cost of programs and income outside of school.

Institute of Justice

Institute of Justice

“The beauticians in our sample reported that in 2016 the average personal income was between $ 20,001 and $ 30,000 per year,” the authors said. “This is in line with the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of $ 26,090 in May 2019.”

With these numbers in mind, Bednarchuk added, beauty students “are taking on student debt in the hopes that their education will open up great economic opportunities, but our report shows that beauty school is often a rough business.”

Some states have tried to relax the requirements for specific services so that some workers do not have to attend beauty programs.

For example, as of 2021, 12 states have exempted eyebrow shapers from licensing as a beautician or beautician. Thirty states exempt rural braids from a full cosmetology license. Seven states (Arizona, Arkansa, Minnesota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) have also changed their beauty laws by removing licenses for shampoos.

However, the broader fact remains that many of these schools operate as businesses with the primary incentive to make as much money as possible for students.

Reading, PA - June 15: Student Joel Sotelo cuts Cameron Gieringer's hair.  At the American Academy of Hair and Beauty on Lancaster Avenue in Reading on the morning of Tuesday June 15, 2021 (Photo by Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group / Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Student Joel Sotelo shaving Cameron Gieringer at the American Academy of Hair and Beauty in Reading, Pennsylvania on June 15, 2021 (Photo by Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group / Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Like some other commercial schools, weak oversight and profit motives can lead to poor quality educational services and even crime.

In 2018, the former owner and CEO of the Olden School of Cosmetology and the Olden School of Hairdressing was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after he was found guilty of fraud with the US Department of Education and embezzlement of Pell Grant funds.

In July, the Department of Education approved Borrower Protection Claims – Student debt cancellation for defrauded students – for those who attended the now defunct Marinello Beauty Schools. The move resulted in the cancellation of a $ 2.2 million student loan debt of former Marinello students.

Marinello was previously found “Make widespread and material misstatements about the teaching that will be offered on its campuses across the country” from 2009 to 2016.

“The department found that Marinello kept students without instructors for weeks or months as part of a pattern of failure to deliver on the promised education,” ED said in a recent press release. “As a result, it has become extremely difficult for students to pass the required state licensing exams and make any profit on their investment in education.”

Aarti is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. She can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami

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