How to Understand & Evaluate Massage School Tuition, Fees & Financial Aid Options

Massage schools, like most things in life, are a business. It is important to understand how these businesses work and what their fee structure is before you fully commit to a massage school. If you don’t take time to understand how tuition, fees and financial aid work and how they are intertwined, you may end up spending a lot more than you need to on quality education.

To understand the business side of massage therapy schools, the first thing you should do is to get in touch with the school’s financial aid representative and ask for all the resources available to you for financial aid. Read this article for tips on how to maximize your financial aid.

Once you have obtained the information, try to determine what your net cost of attending the school would be after factoring in financial aid (some assumptions are necessary here). For example, if the tuition is $5,000 but you can get $3,000 in financial aid, the school will only end up costing you $2,000. This is a simplistic example. To understand this concept further, read this article.

If the school you are considering is accredited, it is likely a participant in the Federal Title IV program, which makes you eligible to receive Federal aid. However, do not assume this. Ask your financial aid representative whether the massage school participates in the Federal Title IV Funding program.

Schools that DO NOT participate in this program are not allowed to receive Federal grants and loans. If you end up attending this school, even if you qualify and demonstrate need, you will not be able to get Federal financial aid. You may also not be eligible to use your military and other State benefits that you qualify for when you select a school that does not participate in the Title IV Funding program. Again, do not assume this. Always ask and get confirmation.

As mentioned earlier, Federal financial aid is not the only resource for financial aid. You can also apply for scholarships, awards and grants, which are agnostic to the type of school you attend. Further, not participating in the Title IV Funding program is no indication of the quality of education offered by the school.

That said, you should always ask why the school does not participate in this program. Is it for genuine reasons, or is there something “wrong” with the school; for example a curriculum that is not deemed adequate by the influential bodies within the industry.

Truly Understanding the Cost of Attending a Massage Therapy School

Simply saying that school A costs $5,000 to attend and school B costs $4,000 to attend does not give the full story. What you need to do is obtain a detailed breakdown of the tuition, fees and other expenses charged by the school you are evaluating. This includes cost of additional materials you will need and other anticipated expenses most students incur.

While tuition makes up the biggest part of the overall cost to attend massage school, there are additional costs that can easily add up to thousands of dollars. For example, if you live far from the school, you will need to factor in commuting costs, or lodging costs if you choose to live near the school until you finish your massage therapy program.

Here are some of the common costs a massage student incurs:

  • School tuition
  • Books & classroom supplies (up to $500 but you can save money if you buy used)
  • Lab equipment & supplies such as massage tables, lotions, oils, linens, etc. (up to $50 but some programs provide them as part of your tuition)
  • Numerous kinds of fees

Note on massage tables: Some schools provide these while others do not; they cost between $275 to $800 depending on the type you get. If you get your own, you can use these later when you start practicing massage.

The Different Kinds of Massage School Fees

Here are just a handful of the different types of fees you may find your massage school charging you. While these fees are necessary, our issue with many schools is that these are not disclosed well up front. Many students, especially those who do not thoroughly perform their research and due diligence, are often surprised by these when it comes time to pay them.

  • Application fee
  • Admission fee
  • Materials & equipment fee
  • Services fee
  • Laundry fee
  • Facilities fee

Application fees range from $25 to $100 and are charged for processing your information. Our best advice to save on these is to narrow down your choice of massage schools to attend to your top 2 to 3 at best. These fees are non refundable. Do not apply to more schools until you hear from your top 2 to 3.

Admission fees are a bit blurry at times. Our volunteers who have operated massage schools in the past indicate that these fees contribute to the overall overhead costs incurred by a schools admissions function.

Laundry fees are charged for cleaning the linen used on massage tables to practice. In some cases uniforms are also included (if the school requires uniforms).

Depending on the school you attend, some charge facility fees to use the school’s facilities whether or not you use them. If you go to a big school that has a gym for example, there will be a fee added on to your tuition invoice for the use of gym facilities. Another reason to conduct thorough due diligence and truly understand what you are being charged.

While the list above is not comprehensive by any means, it is a compilation of some of the most common costs we see.  As mentioned above, if you live far from the school, factor in drive time, fuel costs, vehicle depreciation, or the cost of living if you were to live close to the school.

Some schools may also require special attire such as a uniform. You may have to pay for this as well. Always ask the school which of these costs is part of the tuition. Making an informed decision means you understand everything and avoid all surprises.

We hope that you will use the information in this article to thoroughly evaluate the cost of attending a massage school so that you are able to intelligently compare schools from a cost perspective.

If you know of other costs that we failed to include in the list above, please email us and we would be happy to include it in the list. Our goal is to provide prospective students with the most complete information so they can make the best decision for themselves as they evaluate which massage therapy school to attend.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Cost of Education, Financial Aid
4 comments on “How to Understand & Evaluate Massage School Tuition, Fees & Financial Aid Options
  1. Debbi says:

    Is this program available online and if so what is the cost?

  2. Falicia says:

    I’m interested but have some questions. And I prefer to keep them private. Is there another way to contact you?

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