One of the biggest obstacles for people wanting to become massage therapists can be paying for massage school. Tuition alone can run in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. Typically, tuition costs $9.00-$10.00 per contact hour. On top of tuition, students must find resources to cover related school expenses like books and supplies and pay for their living expenses while in school.
The funding methods below are important possibilities for potential students to explore.
- Payment Plans: Many schools offer payment options that allow students to make monthly payments rather than paying the tuition in full. Payment plans vary from school to school. The school’s admission staff can explain their policies regarding payment plans.
- Federal Financial Aid: A few schools offer federal financial aid. This means their students are eligible for federally backed student loans. In order for schools to offer federal funding, they must be nationally accredited. The fees for accreditation are expensive for the school and the staff time necessary to receive and maintain accreditation is a big investment. This means that the smaller, more intimate massage schools usually are not nationally accredited. The benefits of federal financial aid are that funding is more accessible and interest rates can be lower. Without federal financial aid, some students are unable to get loans at all. The downside about federal financial aid is that the schools that offer federal financial aid are often more expensive than those that don’t. Some federally funded schools cost as much as $20 per contact hour.
- Other Student Loans: There are non-federally backed student loans available for students with good credit. This gives students who need to borrow money for tuition more options for their education. However, students should check out student loans products carefully. There are companies that charge as much as 18% interest for non-federal student loans. With thorough research, a student should be able to find better bargains. One company that offers loans for non-federally funded programs is SLM Financial. They offer a Direct Career Training Loan product for which many massage programs would qualify.
- Personal Loans: For students with good credit and collateral, personal loans are may be an option. Interest rates on personal loans are generally higher than on federally backed student loans, but personal loans can pay for schools that don’t qualify for federal funding. In addition to personal loans, home equity loans are a good option. The interest rates for home equity lines of credit can be lower than for personal loans.
- Other Resources: A Small Business Administration once recommended looking for financial backing at what he called “the Bank of Friends and Family.” For some lucky massage students, this is a viable form of support. One student’s grandfather helped each of his grandchildren with their college tuition. However, the grandfather recalled “massage parlors” of the past and was not enthused about helping his granddaughter go to massage school. She took it upon herself to educate her grandfather about massage therapy as a career and healing modality. Somewhat hesitantly he decided to assist her, but by the time she graduated, he was a convert. This approach of education and inclusion can be invaluable when a student is receiving financial support from a family member or friend. Parents or grandparents may want to contact the school’s administrative staff to discuss their educational programs or the field of massage therapy. If the student familiarizes herself with the career of massage therapy and is realistic about employment opportunities, it can help assure family members who are considering giving financial support.
- Scholarships: In reality, scholarships for massage school are difficult to locate and receive. They are probably not the full answer to massage school funding needs, but could help supplement other funding sources. Libraries have scholarship books that list various scholarships; the reference librarian will be able to help locate these resources. There are also scholarship websites on-line.
- Savings: There are many stories of people who have wanted to go to massage school for years. They held onto their dream, saved money as they could, and attended school when the timing was right.
People who want to become massage therapists may have to work hard toward their goal of massage school. The profession needs dedicated and passionate practitioners. Sometimes what we’re most passionate about takes dedication, patience, and hard work. With a little bit of each, the dream of attending massage school can become a reality.
© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved