Have you always wanted to go to massage therapy school, but didn't think you could afford it? Is your dream of becoming a massage therapist clouded by the thoughts, "How will I pay for school? Will I qualify for financial aid? Is my credit good enough?" These are great questions, but don't worry! Almost everyone is eligible for financial aid regardless of one's credit history, income, marital status or filing of a tax return.
Here are the facts about funding your massage therapy education—and the three most important steps for how to get started with your financial aid research.
Verify that the massage school you are looking at is accredited. View and search the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.
Use the Federal Student Aid forecaster online tool (called the FAFSA4caster) to learn about the financial aid process and get an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid. With this tool, you can answer the questions, "What is federal student aid? Who qualifies? How do you apply?"
With the FAFSA4caster you can:
- Calculate your eligibility for federal financial aid, including grants
- Reduce the time it will take to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the qualifying form for all federal student financial aid
Find out if you qualify for financial aid. Submit a FAFSA. To start the FAFSA process, visit fafsa.ed.gov and apply as early as possible beginning Jan. 1 of each year. Schools and states also have their own deadlines, so be sure to contact the school you are interested in for exact deadline dates. (NOTE: The first "F" in FAFSA stands for "Free" and it has a ".gov" Web address. If you go to FAFSA.com, you can access the information, but will be charged a fee.
Most financial aid packages offered by massage therapy schools include various types of aid, including:
- Scholarships or grants (money that does not need to be paid back)
- Loans (money that is paid back, usually at lower interest rates than other types of loans)
- Work-study (a job on campus)
Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides financial assistance for individuals wanting to pursue education beyond high school. Federal Student Aid administers the federal student financial assistance programs, authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. In 2006 alone, Federal Student Aid provided approximately $80 billion in new aid to nearly 10 million postsecondary students and their families.
Accredited massage therapy schools may offer the following financial aid:
Need-based grants for students who have not earned a degree (associate's, bachelor's, etc.)
- Federal Student Aid
- Academic Competitiveness Grant
- Pell Grants
- Stafford Subsidized Loans
- Stafford Unsubsidized Loans
- PLUS Loans (Loans for parents of dependent students)
- In-House Financing
- Access to Scholarships
Students may also qualify for:
- Veterans Administration benefits: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Vocational Rehabilitation funds: Vocational Rehabilitation State Offices
- Workforce Investment Act (formerly Job Training Partnership Act) programs: U.S. Department of Labor: Employment & Training Administration
Other sources of financial aid include state loans and grants, depending on the student's state of residence. Your employer may also be a source of financial aid. Individual employers frequently offer education funds for employees or for retraining of employees.
The Path to Massage School
Taking the time to research your financial aid options could open the doors to massage school. Believe in yourself, and make your dream of going to massage therapy school happen.