How to Go to Cosmetology School for Free [My Story]

I did attend a Cosmetology school without paying money. But how did I manage to get a free cosmetology education? Was it because I won a lottery at a beauty school? No. Or perhaps I was exceptionally intelligent and skilled in hairstyling, earning me a scholarship? Again, no. So, how did I achieve this? Well, in this new installment of my cosmetology series, I’ll share with you how to go to Cosmetology school for free. You might be wondering, how did I do it, or how did I manage to get it without any cost? The simple answer is that my state covered the expenses.

How to Go to Cosmetology School for Free

How to Go to Cosmetology School for Free

Before the whole story, the summary is that you need a grant to study this for free. The grant can be specific to your state, which means you have to do some research to figure out what grant you actually qualify for. Let’s get started.

1. Find a Cheap Cosmetology School Near You

When I began searching for a cosmetology school, I focused on finding one close to where I live. I considered the duration of the program at each school and also looked for a program that I could afford without going into debt.

Nobody likes being in debt. So, I decided to enroll in a school called Tcat, short for Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Tcat offers 1 to 2-year technical and occupational programs, including cosmetology. I collected all the requirements for the program and visited the school to talk with an advisor from the cosmetology department. After getting the approval from them, they directed me to visit the financial aid office.

2. Visit the Financial Aid Department

Now, I visited the financial aid department where they assisted me in setting up a FAFSA account, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

We created the account, which I can also access through my email. We discussed various payment options and explored grants or scholarships that I could apply for through my financial aid. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.

3. Apply for a Grant in Your State

In my case, the first grant I qualified for is known as the HOPE or lottery scholarship, specifically for Tennessee residents. You might want to check for similar grants or scholarships in your state. For four-year institutions and two-year institutions with on-campus housing, the HOPE Scholarship gives up to $2,250 per full-time enrollment semester as a freshman and sophomore; then up to $2,850 per full-time enrollment semester as a junior and senior. For two-year institutions, they will give you up to $1,600 per full-time enrollment semester as a freshman and sophomore.

Well, I was thrilled to get this grant to go to Cosmetology school for free, but I had also heard about another grant that was just starting. It’s called Tennessee Reconnect, and it seemed almost too good to be true, so I investigated further. I applied for it online and through my FAFSA. After signing up, I received a notification confirming my registration. To my surprise, when I enrolled, my receipt showed a balance of zero. The program was divided into 4 terms: full winter, spring, and summer. For each term that I enrolled in, my receipt consistently showed zero, which was fantastic. The only costs I had to cover were for my kit and my book.

What exactly is Tennessee Reconnect? I’m going to explain what it means and how you can be eligible for it. As I mentioned earlier with the HOPE scholarship, one of the requirements is being a Tennessee resident for at least a year. I had to provide proof of this residency.

Now, let’s talk about the Tennessee Reconnect program. Here are the eligibility requirements:

First, you must not already possess an associate or bachelor’s degree. You need to have been a resident of Tennessee for at least one year before applying for the grant.

Completing the FAFSA is also a requirement, and you must be classified as an independent student. I’ll explain what being an independent student means. Also, you must be admitted to an eligible institution and participate in an advising program that is approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

For the definition of an independent student, it includes anyone who is at least 24 years old – there’s a benefit to being older! Other categories include being married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the Armed Forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor, or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. I qualified as I was 24 years old and married. On the school’s website, there’s information about the Tennessee Reconnect Tcat grant.

The Tennessee Reconnect Tcat grant is essentially a last-dollar scholarship for any adult student aged 25 or older attending a Tcat. This means that after your federal and state financial aid is applied, the Tcat Reconnect grant covers any remaining tuition costs.

In simple terms, you could go to Cosmetology school for free without paying the fees. However, this does not include books and supply fees, and other miscellaneous. You will have to pay for your kit and your book.

You Don’t Need Big Name Cosmetology Schools

As I mentioned earlier, pick an affordable cosmetology school instead of the expensive, popular ones. All these schools use the same Milady textbook. The real learning happens during an apprenticeship with a skilled stylist. There are many scholarships for cosmetology that few people apply for. Sephora, Redken and Beauty Changes Lives offer some, and there are others too. You can also get an unpaid apprenticeship, usually lasting about 2 years. You’ll need to find reputable salons that meet your state board’s requirements.

Take your time and don’t rush into a decision because you can definitely go to cosmetology school for free. Look into scholarships and other programs first. Make sure you’re well-informed before choosing a school. Find out if the school is nonprofit or for-profit, the total cost, and the required hours in your state.

You might be eligible for a Pell Grant, which covers costs if the school qualifies (most do). This grant from the government doesn’t need to be repaid. Apply for it online at FAFSA. The schools usually have financial advisors to help with this process.

Remember, cosmetology can be a tough and competitive field. It’s difficult at the start, but once you build a clientele, they become loyal supporters.


You should definitely check out your state’s website. If you eventually land the grant to go to Cosmetology school for free, you will feel incredibly fortunate and extremely grateful to have received these grants. Honestly, there’s nothing too extraordinary about it. You just need to meet the requirements, which will require you to be a resident of the specific state and an adult – that’s not something particularly special.

It’s just fantastic. So, make sure to look into the grants available in your state for cosmetology education. You’ll feel truly relieved and happy that you don’t have to worry about making payments after school.

Read alsoGet Paid to Go to School [for Single Mothers]

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