If you've made the decision to get your cosmetology license but don't have enough cash to pay for the program, you might be wondering if it's worth it. While there are many options available, it will entail a fine act of balancing what you owe with what you earn, and deciding which option is right for you will take careful planning. To ensure that you make the right choice and don't get in over your head financially, follow these steps before making a final decision.

1) Know Your Loan Options

Federal and state programs that provide loans for post-secondary education tend to lean in favor of four-year institutions. That said, there are still certain programs—both private and government backed—that will lend money to those wanting to attend an accredited vocational school. They come in the form of Federal Direct Loans, and borrowers can benefit in a number of ways. First, with some of the loans you can enjoy a six-month grace period following graduation in which you don't have to make loan repayments. Second, your interest rate will be fixed, and if you get a subsidized loan, the government will pay the interest on your loan for as long as you are in school.

Financial aid from the institution you will be attending is another option. Because the school, one like Cannella School of Hair Design, benefits financially from those enrolling and attending, they are motivated to help as many people as possible. When you sit down with a representative, ask them if they offer interest free loans that will keep your monthly payment to a minimum upon graduation.

With both of these, it's important to find out what your monthly payments will be and when you will have to begin the loan repayment process.

2) Determine Your Projected Income

This is probably the most critical part of determining whether or not getting a loan to pay for cosmetology school is a solid investment or a calculated risk. Since you know what your monthly payments will be, it would be prudent to get an idea of what your income will look like. Don't bother doing a search on the Internet for average wages of cosmetologists. They vary from region to region and salon to salon. The best way to gauge what you can expect to make is by talking with local hairdressers and salon owners. Some of them pay an hourly wage, only allowing you to keep tips while others charge you a booth rental fee and allow you to keep most of your earnings. By talking with someone who works at a salon that might actually employ you, you'll have a better grip on what you can expect to make.

If you don't think that your loan repayments will be affordable based on your expected income, the next option is to look into financial assistance that you don't have to pay back.

3) Apply for Free Money

Grants and scholarships are an excellent resource for those who are committed to getting their cosmetology license but lack funding. They can be awarded based on financial need or approved based on your high school or college grades. To increase your chances of getting a grant or scholarship, find as many as you could possibly qualify for and apply for all of them as some of them have limited acceptance. CollegesandDegrees.com has a list of at least 25 programs to look into.