Beauty School Protectionism

Student loan defaults are a source of extensive discussion among those worried about higher education policy. But the concept generally only comes up in terms of student loan defaults as a sign of a problem. But defaulting on a student loan has some severe, though bizarre, consequences of its own.

As Matthew Yglesias explains, in some places you can’t even really get paid to cut someone’s hair with a student loan default:

In the great state of Montana, for example, they don’t let you get a cosmetologist license unless you’ve graduated from high school and then completed 2,000 hours worth of coursework at an approved beauty school. And lest you think that this is to protect customers rather than to protect the interests of the beauty schools, you’re at risk of having your license yanked if you don’t pay your student loans.

This, of course, is stupid. There’s nothing about not paying student loans that would make one bad at cutting hair. Indeed, if the real goal here is to promote entrepreneurship and innovation it should be pretty easy to become a hairdresser.

But what’s going on here? Who is this law designed to protect. The well-coiffed women of Montana? Hairdressers? The colleges that certified them? The student loan companies? And who’s worthy of protection here?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer