Anyone know any rich benefactors?
February 1, 2006 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Help me fulfill my dream of becoming a massage therapist...

I've been accepted at a good massage therapy school. It's a 6 month program that keeps me in class from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm every day (Mon-Fri). I'm all ready to quit my job (soulless government bureaucratic hell) and dive in head first. However, I just found out that the financial aid that the school can help me with will only partially cover tuition, leaving a large chunk of it up to me, as well as all of my living expenses (rent, food, gas, etc...).

I wanted to go part-time originally, but it won't work with where my job is located, where the school is located, the scheduled classes, and the hours I can work. So, my only real choice is to go to school full-time, which leaves almost no time in which to get some other job. Any job that I could get (retail) would be minimal pay, hence not solving my problem.

I'm looking at needing at least $16K. What are my options? I'm sure I could try to take out a bank loan, but I can't imagine I'd get a good rate (especially since my credit isn't the greatest). There just have to be some grants that I can apply for, but trying to find anything online has been frustrating and pointless so far. Perhaps there are some avenues to money that I'm not even aware of at this point.

I started the day being on top of the world, and it's all come crashing down after speaking to the financial aid people at the school. I don't know where to turn or what to do.

Help me, MeFites, you're my only hope.
posted by MsVader to Education (8 answers total)
Is there any opportunity to approach a massage therapy clinic, explain that you are starting training, and question whether you can do an administrative or clerical or support job for them to help pay your way through this?
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:34 PM on February 1, 2006

Up here in the Great White North, this sort of thing is taken care of with student loans, for which payments (and interest? I'm not positive) start at graduation when you're out working again. Here they're handled by the provincial government, but I'm pretty sure there are equivalents in the US, both public (Sallie Mae?) and via private lenders. I would imagine that student loan lenders would expect their borrowers to have little credit.

You'll still have a major lifestyle adjustment, and adjusting from civil service to starving student will be a big one. Rent? Roommates. Gas? Public transportation. Food? Ramen! It'll suck for a few years, but that's the self-sacrifice that comes with going back to school, and then you're off in your new career (at entry-level salary in that, mind you, since you'll be fresh out of school).

Throw in a straightforward part-time job that doesn't follow you home for a bit of extra spending money and away you go.
posted by mendel at 4:45 PM on February 1, 2006

Definitely student loans should be able to help you. If it's a school that awards a massage therapy degree, then you should be eligeable for student loans.
posted by radioamy at 4:58 PM on February 1, 2006

Wow, my friend was in the exact same situation two years ago. She wanted to study at the Florida College of Natural Health. She ended up taking out a loan (I think it was a student loan, but it may have been a bank loan). Even though it's going to take her quite a while to pay it back, she loves her job now, and doesn't regret it one bit.

I'm sorry I don't have more specific advice for you, but I wanted to let you know that, for my friend at least, it was well worth the effort. Best of luck, I hope it works out for you!
posted by Sibrax at 5:16 PM on February 1, 2006

Is this an accredited, degree-giving school? A student loan may be otherwise difficult.

Out of curiosity, is $16k the "going rate" for this kind of thing? Wow.
posted by mkultra at 5:31 PM on February 1, 2006

Response by poster: The student loans they can offer me (yes, this is an accredited school) cover almost half of the tuition. That's all I'm eligible for. The rest of the tuition and my living expenses will have to be through private loans (that's where the $16K comes in - actually I factored in a month or two of living expenses after graduation since I won't exactly be swimming in money right away). The bulk of what I'll need is for my living expenses.

I was just wondering if there were any other avenues I could pursue for finding money besides private loans.
posted by MsVader at 7:59 PM on February 1, 2006

I've been a massage therapist since '01 and went to Fl. College of Natural Health... A more expensive school. I was living with parents at the time who saved a college fund for me since I was born so I was okay, but most of the others around me either had student loans or worked as waitresses at higher class restaurants. If you're so inclined, you could always strip for a month or two and make about $800-$1500 a night and save that for several months to come! (I've been to a strip club and overheard financial conversation.)

Student loans are popular and I don't think they're all too shabby. I saw a site yesterday offering loans at about 9.4% with deferred payments. You could try seeking a grant or something, but I'm not very familiar with those and I suspect it's mostly just a hassle.

ALSO... I went to FCNH - similar program, 930-330 M-F, 624 hours of total training. Paid somewhere around $6k. My ex boyfriend, who was an excellent massage therapist, went to a county-affiliated school (Westside Tech), got 850 hours of training, and paid like $2k. You could say it's an inferior school in some ways, but as far as the output is concerned, either is perfectly suitable. If I had to pay for the training I received out of my pocket, no doubt I would have chosen Westside Tech. FCNH has been bought out by Steiner anyhow, a huge corporation which turns off a lot of massage therapists who usually dream of healing people and associated ideals, not a super clinical corporate world. I'd seriously consider something looking into a similar route.

By the way, if you have any questions regarding massage therapy (I've dealt with quite a bit, including many perverts - more than your average massage therapist unfortunately..), feel free to email me.

Also I like a lot (It's where I bought my table, the Astralite) - and can tell you inexpensive ways to buy the same damn thing for literally like $200 less than these "massage" marketed products.
posted by mojabunni at 8:16 PM on February 1, 2006

Something else I should say is I hope you are realistic about massage income. It really isn't what you might imagine. The most lucrative job I've had was massaging tourists in the Disney World area at Marriott and Hilton resorts. Working 3-4 days a week I'd make maybe $300-$400/week. And that's all before taxes - I don't get any tax refund, just pay out a few hundred bucks.

I prefer a secure income, and the only jobs that provide that in massage are hourly ones with a chiropractor or something, which from my experience, tend to suck. I worked for a shabby chiro though. I was paid $12/hour where most of the others around me were paid $10-$11. At the resorts or local dayspas, there were plenty of days - PLENTY- where no one came in at all, and you sit and twiddle your thumbs. You will be lucky if you can find a job that allows you to be on call (as opposed to sitting for 4-6 hours). Occasionally I had to massage 5 to 6 people back to back. The worst streak was 6.5 hours of massage with no break at all, back to back. I thought I was going to fall asleep on the last client of the evening. My friend has worked on a cruise ship where they pay you crap and work you like a dog - she liked it though, and made it through her 8 month contract. I'm told most Americans don't last but a couple months working on the ship.

Or you can start your own massage business having people work for you - but that's hard. The girls I worked for contracted out of the resorts - providing them the massage services and we took care of pretty much everything, including all business management and hiring. The resorts merely provided the place to do the massage. That is a good idea, BUT.. I live in Orlando which is the #1 vacation capital of the world. I haven't heard too much about the NJ tourist industry :P A LOT of the people I massaged told me they only got massage when they were on vacation, about 1-2x/year.

There are massage therapists who work full time and I don't know how the f they do it - I could never do massage more than 3-4 days a week (when you're talking about massaging 2-5 people an hour each per shift). I know some massage therapists who take 6 months off at a time and then go back to massage, alternating jobs every 6 months. This is good idea and can help prevent repetitive strain injuries, as well as burnout!

Just wanted to pass along the info....
posted by mojabunni at 8:33 PM on February 1, 2006

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