Paying for Massage Therapy School

Costs vary widely for private to community college massage therapy schools. In general, private facilities cost more than community college programs. Tuitions range from as little as $5,000 to $18,000, and the average cost is around $9,000. A future massage therapist will have to pay for tuition, books, and equipment. There may be a variety of fees associated with the clinical practice part of the course as well.

Money should not stop a student from considering a massage therapy career. There is a variety of ways to obtain money for a massage therapy education. There are student loans, grants, scholarships, work programs, and personal resources. Student loans are monies the government or state supplies through mandated programs. Loans are set at a low interest rate and usually do not have to be paid back until a future massage therapist is working. The amount of the loan depends on need and amount of income. Check with the institution you will be attending. They often have programs in place. Grants are government monies obtained by meeting a certain criteria. Grants generally are not paid back, but often have a variety of stipulations a future massage therapist has to meet.

Scholarships are another source of money that a student does not pay back. Scholarships come from the government or private entities. They, too, will have a series of stipulations to meet. Programs at community colleges may have a work-study option. A work-study program provides a job on campus for a student. The money earned is used to pay tuition. Another option is borrowing against a 401K or 403b retirement fund, if the student has one. Also, check with your parents and see if they invested in a state college fund program or bought savings bonds for use in education. Talk with leaders in any organizations you belong to. They often have programs to provide money to members.

In most cases, all the money for the program does not have to be paid up front. There are ways a person can pay in increments. Contacting a training program’s financial aid department will give a student all the possibilities available. Often several funding sources can be combined into one to supply the funding for massage school.


A grant is money obtained by applying and meeting a certain criteria of the government or a private entity. Grants require an application and documentation process. It generally involves signing an oath that the money will be used for the intended purpose of going to massage therapy school. Grants are not paid back.

For federal government grants, a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be filled out. Filling out a FAFSA makes a person eligible for any federal money available. The process is done online at the website

The most common federal grant is called the Federal Pell Grant. Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students based on need. A student can receive two grants in a school year, and the 2010–2011 grants were at a maximum of $5,500. It distributes a check once a term.

Next is the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). The grants are awarded to students with exceptional financial need. The awards are based on the availability of funding for that year. A student must be eligible for a Pell Grant first and needs to apply early since each school is given a limited amount of funding.
All state educational agencies offer grants to residents. State grant money programs are constantly changing. It is best to contact a state’s financial aid office for information on what is available. The state can give a student a grant whether they are eligible for a federal grant or not. States, in general, are more generous in giving grants than the federal government. State grants follow the rule that the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the money. The earlier a student applies, the more likely they will get a grant and receive a larger amount. There is one grant the state and federal governments do together. It is called the Student Incentive Grant. It is awarded to full- or part-time students. A maximum of $2,500 is awarded annually.

Grants are awarded by organizations and corporations as well. These grants are given to a person based on a particular characteristic they have or if they belong to a group. There are grants for minorities, for children of police officers who have died in the line of duty, and for single females with children. These grants are harder to find, but a good Internet search should point a student in the right direction. Normally, the organization needs to be contacted to start the process.

Money should not be an obstacle to keeping a student from attending massage therapy school. There is money available. It is just a matter of searching and asking questions.


A scholarship is a form of aid that a student competes for because of some talent or attribute they have. Scholarships do not have to be paid back, but it comes with many clauses and stipulations on use and how to maintain eligibility. Some scholarships are a one-time event, and others are annually renewable.

College scholarships come from a variety of sources. There are federal and state scholarships. Schools, organizations, professional associations, and employers often provide scholarships. There are scholarships for women, scholarships for minorities, scholarships for the left handed, scholarships for people of a particular relgions, etc., etc. Any school or church a student attended, any sport activity or organization a student was a member of, and any groups or schools relatives and parents attended need to be checked. To find local scholarships, check the community newspaper, library, or community bulletin boards. A student can have as many scholarships as they can find to finance their massage therapy school tuition.

It is best to gather the information most scholarships need early. A student needs financial data, letters of reference, names and numbers of people who can vouch for them and the information provided, and lists of classes taken and organizations joined. Scholarships often require essays prompted by questions like: Why do you need the scholarship? Why massage therapy as a career choice? Why it is important to continue your education? It is highly recommended a student gather information or make rough drafts of essays. As students apply for scholarships, they should keep a folder of which ones are finished, which ones still have to be done, and where the process is.

Examples of scholarships for massage therapy are as follows:

American Specialty Health
This organization offers many scholarships for students going into complementary health care and massage therapy. The application and directions are on the website.

Cortiva Institute Founders Scholarships
This scholarship is $1,000 and is awarded to students entering Cortiva Institute massage school.

A good Internet search will turn up many scholarships that may not be specifically for massage school but are applicable to any student going to school. A great place to start is It is a database of scholarships and other financial aid. A student can create a personal profile of what education and study they are interested in. The site then scours the Internet for scholarships and notifies the student. Information on the site gives scholarship amounts, requirements, and how to apply for money.

Once a scholarship is received, make sure you understand the obligations of keeping the scholarship. It often involves a certain grade point average or a process of reporting. Scholarships can be revoked if the stipulations are not met. Scholarships are well worth the effort and allow a student to put money toward their future career.

Financial Aid Advice

If a person is thinking about going to massage therapy school, it is a good idea to go ahead and begin the financial aid process. It will help a person select a program. If a person does not go to massage therapy school, nothing is lost since most aid is through financial aid offices and not received until enrollment is official. Most financial aid packages are a mixture of grants, loans, and scholarships. The earlier a person starts, the more likely he or she will find money.

One of the steps to receiving all financial aid available for your situation from the government is filling out the FAFSA. If possible, it is best to have the FAFSA ready in February when federal money is at the height of availability. Many other state grants and scholarships depend on if a student has done this process first.Using the online format at lets the federal government send a student communications on the process.

State-based financial aid is not standardized. Each scholarship and grant is different and requires different paperwork. State grant financial aid is on a first come, first serve basis. Even if a person is not sure about massage therapy school, it is best to start the process asking for aid anyway.

Finding local scholarships is always difficult. This type of money is not often listed on the Internet. A good approach is to go to the public library if one is available. Librarians can help find the lists of foundations, organizations, and corporations who provide money locally. Be prepared and organized to do paperwork because each entity will have a different process of applying and receiving.

Cautions about financial aid are that some scholarships have taxes that must be paid on them or have other strings attached. Make sure you read the fine print. A student may get 100 percent of their schooling paid with financial aid, but never more than 100 percent. There are some companies that will find a person financial aid for a fee. Be careful. There are reputable companies that do this, but many are not reputable. Financial aid information is always free and available to the public.