Cooking School Costs

Financial aid and scholarships can help ease the burden of tuition

When choosing a culinary school, a vital factor to consider is the cost. More specifically, is the school affordable? Though it can be expensive, many people see an education in the culinary arts as an investment that pays off in the form of an exciting career.


The tuition costs of culinary schools range from a few hundred dollars per course at local community colleges to thousands of dollars per year of study at prestigious, highly specialized schools. It’s important to remember that tuition isn’t the only expense that you’ll have. Don’t forget to factor in things like:

  • Application fees
  • Books and cooking supplies, including uniforms
  • Travel expenses
  • Room and board (at some schools, living on campus is mandatory)

Depending on where you choose to attend classes, you should expect your annual cooking school expenses to fall somewhere within these ranges:

  • Community college: $2,000 to $5,000.
  • Culinary institute: $7,000 to $36,000.
  • Public university: $3,000 to $18,000
  • Private university: $14,000 to $45,000.

Financial Aid

Grants and loans can assist in covering the costs that your savings and scholarships can’t. Check with your school to find out if you qualify for any aid programs. Financial aid funds can come from federal, state, institutional or private sources. Students must apply for financial aid and prove their eligibility. Funds are usually awarded based on need.

Scholarships and Bursaries

There are a number of scholarships and bursaries that culinary students are eligible to apply for. Scholarships generally range from $200 to $2,500. Very rarely does a student receive a full culinary-school scholarship.

The competition for scholarships is fierce, and it’s a good idea to apply for as many scholarships and bursaries as you can to maximize your chances of being awarded one. Take the time to make your application as appealing as possible. Make sure you’re absolutely certain of the deadline, and always submit on time. Generally, the best plan is to focus on local scholarship and bursary opportunities before you start to apply for national scholarships. Start out by finding if your school offers any in-house scholarships. It’s also a good idea to investigate scholarship opportunities through your local high school counseling office, churches, community groups, employers and professional organizations.

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