Cosmetology Schools are Subject to Minimal DOE Monitoring

The U.S. Department of Education released its College Scorecard this week. The scorecard acts as a tool for students who want a more in-depth look at their potential schools. One particularly important part of the scorecard is a financial evaluation that provides an overview both of the institution’s financial health and how it manages tuition.

There has been some criticism of the scorecard because of the lack of cosmetology schools featured on the card. Cosmetology schools issue certificates rather than degrees, but charge tuition nonetheless and vary in terms of quality. Recently, colleges specializing in hairstyling and massage therapy have come under increased federal scrutiny, making up a quarter of all for-profit colleges that the Department of Education subjects to heightened cash monitoring.

What this means essentially is that while more students are pursuing careers in cosmetology, as evidenced by the continued success of these cosmetology institutions, they are not receiving the same level of scrutiny from the federal government as other institutions. Further illustrating this was a Brookings Institution analysis that found that out of 671 cosmetology programs nationwide, only 6 were producing graduates who averaged more than $20,000 a year in earnings.

What this means is that students taking federal loans with the intent of going into cosmetology may be overcharged by some institutions who are skirting past federal monitoring. Without any warning, these students may graduate to find that the career they have been prepared for does not earn them enough money to pay for the training they received to enter into that field.

Nonetheless, someone passionate about cosmetology should not be discouraged from pursuing a career in that field. Instead, action needs to be taken by the federal government to better monitor cosmetology schools and ensure that students seeking a career in beauty are as protected as those majoring in other subjects.


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