Culinary training can be expensive—nearly as expensive as attending a private university and sometimes more expensive than attending a public university. Few prospective students can simply pay the bills from their own savings. Some depend on their parents’ generosity to fund their studies. Fortunately, help is available through loans and other financial aid programs and also in the form of scholarships.
Where To Start
Once you have decided which schools are most appealing to you, contact the financial aid office at each to determine exactly what kind of assistance is available. Some schools even have work-study arrangements that allow students to work part-time and study as well.
Financial aid offices at culinary schools administer financial aid programs of various kinds and also provide basic advice about securing educational loans. You should consider this advice to be an integral part of your overall career planning. Financing your degree should be viewed as a long-term investment in your professional career. You should understand how this complex system works to be sure you are getting the best deal possible. You may be eligible for grant assistance if financial need is proved. A grant is an outright award of money, whereas a loan must be paid back. Financial aid officers are more than happy to counsel you about such options.
Scholarship awards are usually based on talent and potential. Financial need may or may not be considered when a scholarship is awarded.
Requirements for scholarship candidates are established by the donors of specific scholarships. Scholarships are awarded by culinary schools themselves and also by a number of professional culinary associations. A serious applicant in need of substantial financial assistance should explore all of these avenues. Additional information is provided elsewhere on this site, but you should also do your own research using the Web. A good place to start is at Peterson’s or the FinAid! site.
Planning Your Financing
When you plan for your culinary education, you’ll want to find the best mix of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. In many cases, loans for education can be used to support a student’s whole educational experience, including tuition, room and board, books, tools, and transportation. The financial aid office will put together the best aid “package” to meet your needs. If you feel this aid “package” is not sufficient, you should meet with the aid office either to reexamine your current situation or investigate other alternatives.
Many local community colleges have established fine culinary programs that are considerably cheaper than traditional programs at private institutions. You may want to consider programs at some of the community schools listed on this site. Many schools have excellent reputations locally and offer generous financial aid packages and scholarship assistance. And remember, culinary education is only part of preparing for a career in the culinary field. The rest is you—your knowledge, your talents, your creativity, and your overall work experience.