One of the biggest barriers for people who want to become massage therapists can be getting paid for massage school. Tuition fees alone can run into the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. Typically, tuition costs $9.00 to $10.00 per contact hour. In addition to tuition, students must find resources to cover related school expenses, such as books and materials, and pay for their living expenses while in school.
The following funding methods are important avenues for prospective students to explore.
Many schools offer payment options that allow students to make monthly payments instead of paying tuition in full. Payment plans vary from school to school. School admissions staff can explain their policies regarding payment schedules.
Federal Financial Aid:
Some schools offer federal financial assistance. This means that their students are eligible for government-backed student loans. For schools to offer federal funding, they must be nationally accredited. Accreditation fees are expensive for the school and the staff time required to obtain and maintain accreditation is a large investment. This means that the smaller, more intimate massage schools are typically not nationally accredited. The advantages of federal financial assistance are that funding is more accessible and interest rates can be lower. Without federal financial assistance, some students may not be able to get any loans at all. The downside to federal financial aid is that schools that offer federal financial aid are often more expensive than those that don’t. Some state-funded schools charge up to $20 per contact hour.
Other student loans:
Non-government-backed student loans are available for students with good credit ratings. This gives students who need to borrow money for tuition more opportunities for their education. However, students should take a close look at the student loan products. There are companies that charge up to 18% interest on non-government student loans. With thorough research, a student should be able to find better bargains. One company that offers loans for non-government funded programs is SLM Financial. They offer a Direct Career Training Loan product that many massage programs would qualify for.
For students with good credit and collateral, personal loans may be an option. Interest rates on personal loans are generally higher than federally-backed student loans, but personal loans can be paid for schools that do not qualify for federal funding. In addition to personal loans, home equity loans are a good option. Interest rates on home equity loans can be lower than personal loans.
A Small Business Administration once recommended looking to what he called the “Bank of Friends and Family” for financial assistance. For some lucky massage students, this is a viable form of support. A student’s grandfather helped each of his grandchildren with tuition. However, the grandfather remembered previous “massage parlors” and was not enthusiastic about helping his granddaughter to attend a massage school. She took it upon herself to educate her grandfather about massage therapy as a career and healing method. Hesitantly, he decided to help her, but by the time she graduated, he was already a convert. This approach to education and inclusion can be invaluable when a student receives financial support from a family member or friend. Parents or grandparents may wish to contact the school’s administrative staff to discuss their educational programs or massage therapy area. Familiarizing the student with the massage therapy career and being realistic about employment opportunities can help persuade family members to consider providing financial assistance.
In reality, massage school scholarships are difficult to find and obtain. They probably aren’t the complete answer to massage school funding needs, but could help supplement other funding sources. Libraries have grant books listing various grants; The Reference Librarian can help you locate these resources. There are also scholarship websites online.
There are many stories of people who have wanted to attend massage school for years. They stuck to their dream, saved as best they could, and went to school at the right time.
People who want to become massage therapists may have to work hard toward their massage school goal. The profession needs committed and passionate practitioners. Sometimes what we are most passionate about requires dedication, patience and hard work. With a little bit of everything, the dream of attending a massage school can become a reality.
© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, all rights reserved