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Save money with students in training

There’s an old saying: You get what you pay for. But when Christina Ferguson, a senior manager of production at the Bravo network in Los Angeles, went to a local massage school, she found that sometimes you get more than what you pay for when you hire a professional in training.

“It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had,” Ferguson says, adding that the $40 fee for a single hour was 60 percent of what she normally pays. Turns out, massage schools aren’t the only institutions that offer discounted services in order to give their students some real-world experience. Find out where else you can save money by working with a professional in training.

Spa services

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Clients at fancy day spas expect seasoned professionals and pay handsomely for the service. But before those professionals ply their trade at pricey spas, they often study and get on-the-job training at places like Bellus Academy of Beauty and Spa in Poway, Calif. The spa component of the school operates just like a regular salon, says Bellus Academy owner Lynelle Lynch.

However, prices at Bellus are typically 50 percent less than other spas in the area. But don’t expect a diminished experience while saving money, says Lynch. Bellus offers the full range of spa services, and the environment is what you’d expect elsewhere. The idea is to expose students to a professional salon.

Acupuncture

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It might not be for you, but if you’re looking to try acupuncture and want to save money, it could be worth checking out a local school that trains practitioners. Acupuncture can cost as much as $80 per session, and you could find yourself scrambling to find a health insurance plan that will cover a portion of the bill.

Operating in Newton, Mass., the New England School of Acupuncture offers the same services as private acupuncturists at $35 to $40 per session. The services are open to the general public, and veterans, students, and seniors can expect to save an additional $10 on most services.

Don’t worry about being stuck by an amateur. The students complete at least two years of training before seeing a patient, and they always work under supervision, says Kathy J. Seltzer, dean of clinical education at the New England School of Acupuncture.

Barber-hairstylist

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There may not be such a thing as a free lunch, but first-time customers at Beau Monde College of Hair Design in Portland, Ore., can save money on a free haircut on their first visit. On their second visit, they’ll get 50 percent off and on their third visit, customers can get the same discount if they bring a friend.

Even if they pay full price, Admissions Director Sue Graham says customers can expect some of the lowest prices in town because students need the training. A standard cut runs about $6, and the school offers a full range of services, including perms, shampoos and coloring. Schools like Beau Monde can be found around the U.S., and most offer some services to the public, usually at a significant discount to local prices.

Massage

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Depending on where you live, you can save money on an hour-long massage that would normally run anywhere from $60 to $120. But in most major cities, massage schools offer the same service for half the cost.

For example, the Massage School of Pasadena, in Southern California, offers a 60-minute massage for $35. In New York, the Swedish Institute offers similarly reduced prices, but the school requires patients to qualify by presenting a specific problem that students can work on over the course of 12 sessions. The fee, which must be paid in advance, is $360 for 12 sessions, but seniors pay a total $135. Both schools list their discounted prices on their respective websites.

Dental care

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Saving money on dental care may depend greatly on your status; students, seniors and low-income individuals are often first in line to receive help. According to Tim McDonough, executive director of Finance & Operations at Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, programs vary a great deal based on the funding available for specific programs.

If you can get an appointment at a dental clinic, McDonough estimates that the average patient finds substantial savings. For example, one student plan offered by Boston University provides patients with two annual cleanings, x-rays, fillings, emergency treatments and exams for a flat fee of $299. However, it’s very hard to say how much most patients will save because of the myriad programs and the variation in dental costs around the country, McDonough says.

Legal aid

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Anyone who’s ever hired a lawyer knows that legal bills can add up fast, especially at $300 or more per hour. But around the country, most law schools offer clinics where you can save money on legal aid.

The University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Ga., is typical, representing clients through a dozen clinics on criminal and civil matters such as domestic violence, special-education concerns and dispute mediation.

Elsewhere, law schools frequently offer help on issues such as estate law and civil litigation. According to Alexander Scherr, associate professor and director of civil clinics at the University of Georgia School of Law, clients pay no fee for the help they receive. However, obtaining representation by a clinic can depend on a range of factors, including the type of case and the clinic’s resources. So, prospective clients are advised to contact schools in their area to see if they offer relevant legal aid and whether they will take the case.

Additional information

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For more information on saving money, check out these stories at Bankrate.com:

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