Get Schooled! 5 Budget-Friendly Services Offered by Students

by Susan Johnston

As students head back to school, consumers with nearby colleges can access affordable services from the next top chefs, dentists, hairstylists and more. Many schools offer supervised services to the public at a steep discount (or in some cases, no cost). Here’s a look at several options.

Beauty schools
When I was a recent graduate living in Boston on an entry-level salary, getting my hair cut for free through the training program at Dellaria Salon was a huge money-saver (don’t worry; the student stylists are carefully supervised by instructors). Aveda also has training salons sprinkled across the country, as do many other brands. Keep in mind that some cosmetology schools want students to practice specific techniques so they may require that guinea pigs be open to any color, cut or style; others will give you whatever style you request. Ask about expectations before you book. Some schools allow you to tip students, while others forbid it. If you want a slightly more experienced stylist, some salons will also discount your services if you book with a junior stylist or trainee.

Culinary schools
Many culinary and hospitality schools have student-run restaurants that give students the chance to hone their cooking skills and learn the restaurant business. Often, these eateries have very reasonable prices to compensate for the sometimes inconsistent service. I’ve eaten at restaurants run by the New England Culinary Institute, by Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu and had a great experience each time.

Dental schools Students training to be dentists or dental hygienists need to practice on real patients, so if you live near a dental school, you may be able to get your teeth cleaned for free or a very reduced rate. At a time when I didn’t have dental insurance, I went to the Forsyth Dental Hygiene Clinic in Boston and got my teeth cleaned for $25. The Norris Dental Service Center at the University of Southern California, the College of Dentistry at the University of Illinois and the School of Dentistry at the University of Texas are just a few other examples. Students are instructed to move much more slowly than regular dentists, though, so expect to spend several hours (or longer) at your appointment.

Massage schools
Massage is a great way to unwind, but it’s often expensive. Visiting a massage clinic staffed by students is a much more affordable luxury. Appointments can book up quickly, so plan ahead. East West College massage therapy clinic in Portland, Oregon, Denver School of Massage Therapy and SensAbility (the teaching clinic at Atlanta School of Massage and Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics) are three places to look.

Music schools
Whether you need a string quartet for your wedding or a jazz combo for a dinner party, student musicians are cheaper to hire than more developed pros. And many students at a conservatory or music school are already serious musicians, so you’ll still get a high-quality performance. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, New England Conservatory of Music and the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York are three music schools that help pair students with paid gigs in the local community. Many others do the same.

Photo credit: Getty ThinkStock

About the Author

Susan Johnston has contributed to print and online publications including AOL Jobs, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor,, Parade Magazine, and SELF. She's also a regular contributor to the money section of