What is the difference between student loans and student finance?

Is there a difference in the terminology?

Over the years government branches, such as Alberta Education, change their names and their program names to encompass changes within their organizational missions and goals.

Student aid has been known as student finance in the past, but within this umbrella term of “student aid” falls multiple methods of financial assistance for students such as loans and grants.

Government assistance to pay for your beauty studies

In Canada, both provincial and federal governments work together to help people access post high school education. Beauty studies is one of the many fields supported by government student aid. However, relatively few training providers offer student loans. The reason for this ultimately comes down to esthetics not being a regulated industry in Alberta.

Is regulation a good thing?

This depends on who you ask. Not being regulated means that there is no governing body to guide us as a whole. It means freedom, but can there be too much freedom?

On the other hand, cosmetology is a regulated industry in Alberta. They have a governing body that oversees all hairstylists, salons, and training providers in Alberta. If you’re looking for student loans to pay for cosmetology school, you’re in luck! Because cosmetology is regulated, many training providers in Alberta will be regulated. This often means that they will be able to offer government loans to students in full time and part time programs. It also means that there won’t be too many trainers to choose from, because becoming a cosmetology trainer is a long process due to regulation.

Unlike cosmetology, esthetics training providers do not have rules to follow. As a result, it’s very easy to become an esthetics trainer and the selection becomes overwhelming. In cosmetology, a governing body determines you have met the requirements to call yourself a trainer. In esthetics, the trainer themselves determines that they have met any requirements to call themselves a trainer.

Loans, grants, and repayment

As mentioned earlier, if hairstyling is your dream career, there is definitely government student aid available to you. However, if you want to learn an esthetics skill, such as skincare or microblading, student financial aid will be hard to come by. Federal government assistance is available for full time esthetics programs only, while provincial funds are available for some part time studies. You must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible.


Loans are available for programs that will result in a certificate at participating beauty educators. Loans must be paid back after completion. If you do not finish your studies you’re still responsible for paying the loan you accepted thus far.


Grants are often given as a supplement to the loan to students that meet certain criteria, amongst them, low income students or students with disabilities. Usually grants do not have to be repaid. However, you should be advised that grants are repayable if you drop out of your program or if your eligibility changes in the middle of the training program. So don’t be a beauty school dropout!

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The author, Silvia Sanchez, graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.A. in Psychology and has over 15 years of experience in the career-consulting field.

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