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Student Loans

Student Loans for Acting School

Whether you want to be a comedian, voice actor, or are eyeing the big screen in Hollywood, attending acting school can help you get there. But with many acting school programs costing between $20,000 and $80,000 per year, it’s important to find a smart way to pay for those expenses.

You can use federal and private student loans to pay acting school tuition, fees, and living expenses. Below, we walk through each option, what it offers, who is eligible, and how to apply.

In this guide:

Which acting schools qualify for student loans?

Several types of acting schools cater to different interests or career paths. The type of school you attend will determine whether you can take out federal or private loans to pay for tuition and other expenses.

For example, you might plan to attend a non-accredited drama program in your area or have your sights set on a four-year university or community college program. Some students may earn their Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting.

Only accredited acting programs qualify for federal financial aid and most private student loan funding. If you plan to take a drama class or attend an acting program at a non-accredited school, you may find getting student loans to cover the cost difficult.

Best acting school loans

Depending on the program you choose, your financial situation, and your year of study, different loans may be available for acting school. Federal loans offer the best benefits and features, but private loans may be necessary to fill a funding gap.

Here’s a quick rundown of federal loans and our top picks for private loans:

Company/loanRatesLoan amountsRepayment terms
Direct Subsidized Loan*4.99%$3,500 – $5,500 per year10 – 25 years
Direct Unsubsidized Loan*4.99% (undergrad)

6.54% (graduate)
$5,500 – $20,500 per year 10 – 25 years
Grad PLUS Loan*7.54%Up to 100% of costs10 – 25 years
College Ave1.29% – 13.95%$1,000 – 100% of costs5, 8, 10, or 15 years
Sallie Mae2.62% – 13.72%$1,000 – 100% of costs5 – 15 years
Ascent1.75%14.75%$2,001 – 100% of costs5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years
Earnest1.34%12.78%$1,000 – 100% of costs5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years

* This is a federal student loan.

Federal acting school loans

For most borrowers, federal student loans are the ideal choice when seeking funding for an acting school. These loans come with competitive fixed interest rates for the life of the loan, as well as federal benefits and features that protect borrowers, such as loan forgiveness and forbearance.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline is the first step toward qualifying for federal acting school loans. It’s also the only way to take out federal student loans. If you’re eligible, the FAFSA may also connect you with even better options, such as scholarships or grants, which you don’t need to repay.

Three types of federal loans are available to help cover acting school expenses: the Direct Subsidized Loan, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, and the Grad PLUS Loan. (Parent PLUS Loans are available, but the parent is the borrower, not the student.) Here are the key features of each of these loans.

Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

  • Fixed interest rate of 4.99%
  • Origination fee of 1.057%
  • Annual maximum of $3,500 (first year), $4,500 (second year), $5,500 (third year and beyond)
  • Aggregate (lifetime) limit of $23,000
  • Repayment term between 10 and 25 years

In general, student loans will begin to accrue interest charges when the loan servicer disburses money to the school. But with a federal Direct Subsidized Loan, the government pays these interest charges as long as you’re in school at least half-time, during your grace period, or if you enter a deferment period. This can save you considerable money over the life of your loan.

Federal Subsidized Loans are only available to undergraduate borrowers who demonstrate financial need. These loans are capped at $3,500 to $5,500 annually, depending on your classification year, with an aggregate limit of $23,000.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • Fixed interest rate of 4.99% (undergraduate borrowers) or 6.54% (graduate borrowers)
  • Origination fee of 1.057%
  • Annual maximum of $5,500 (first year), $6,500 (second year), and $7,500 (third year and beyond) for dependent students
  • Annual limit of $9,500 (first year), $10,500 (second year) or $12,500 (third year and beyond for independent students 
  • Annual limit of $20,500 for graduate students
  • Aggregate limit of $57,500 for undergraduate students and $138,500 for graduate students
  • Repayment term between 10 and 25 years

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students and aren’t based on financial need. Annual and aggregate limits are higher than Direct Subsidized Loans, though it’s important to note that the government won’t be paying the interest on these loans while you’re in school. Instead, that interest will accrue and add to the overall cost of your debt.

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

  • Fixed interest rate of 7.54%
  • Origination fee of 4.228%
  • Annual maximum depends on your school-certified cost of attendance
  • No aggregate limit
  • Repayment term between 10 and 25 years

PLUS loans allow students and their parents to borrow up to 100% of their school-certified educational expenses, minus any other aid or financial assistance sources. This makes it easier to borrow what you need if you’re limited by annual maximums.

No PLUS loans are available to dependent undergraduate students. These loans can either be Parent PLUS loans (parents take them out on behalf of the student) or Grad PLUS loans (independent graduate students take them out). They are not dependent on financial need, so interest charges aren’t subsidized.

Best private acting school loans

If federal student loans aren’t enough to cover your acting school tuition and expenses, you may need private student loans to fund the difference. Private loans don’t offer the same protections as federal loans, meaning borrowers won’t qualify for benefits such as income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs.

Various financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders, offer private loans. Each lender sets its terms, rates, eligibility, and loan limits, so borrowers should shop around for the best terms before choosing a loan.

Here’s a look at five of the best private student lenders and what they offer for acting school loans.

College Ave

Editorial Selection: Best Overall

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, parents, and career training
  • Choose your repayment plan and term
  • Get a decision in as little as 3 minutes

Our best overall private lender, College Ave, offers student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. Borrowers enrolled in an eligible, degree-granting acting school can take out up to 100% of their school-certified expenses with a College Ave undergraduate or graduate school loan.

  • Fixed rates: 3.22% to 13.95% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.29% to 12.99% APR
  • In-school repayment options: Full, interest-only, flat $25, or deferred
  • Repayment terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance

What stands out about College Ave’s acting school loan

College Ave doesn’t offer a special loan for acting school, but students can take out an undergraduate or graduate loan to cover acting school expenses. Borrowers can enjoy the lender’s Multi-Year Peace of Mind, which makes the application process in subsequent years easier and provides a 90% acceptance rate when you apply with a cosigner for another loan.

Eligibility requirements for College Ave’s acting school loan

To qualify for a College Ave private student loan, borrowers or their cosigners must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Students must be enrolled in an acting program at an accredited college or university.

Borrowers or cosigners need good credit, but College Ave doesn’t publish a specific credit score minimum. The application takes about three minutes to complete online and provides an instant credit decision.

Sallie Mae

Editorial Selection: Best for Cosigners

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • Release your cosigner in as little as 12 months

Sallie Mae is one of the oldest and best-known student lenders, offering private loans to students in various undergraduate or graduate programs. Sallie Mae loans are available in all 50 states and can give you access to funding for acting school.

  • Fixed rates: 3.75% to 13.72% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.62% to 12.97% APR
  • In-school repayment options: Full, interest-only, flat $25, or deferred
  • Repayment terms: 5 to 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance

What stands out about Sallie Mae’s acting school loan

Sallie Mae doesn’t offer specific acting school student loans, but borrowers can choose between private undergraduate, graduate, or parent loans. Rather than allowing borrowers to choose their loan repayment terms, Sallie Mae will assign a term (between five and 15 years) after approving the loan.

Borrowers get a grace period of six months before monthly payments begin. If a cosigner is required, they can be released after 12 months of on-time payments.

Eligibility requirements for Salle Mae’s acting school loan

If you’re in a degree-granting program through an eligible institution, you can borrow from Sallie Mae to cover your acting school costs, even if you’re enrolled less than half-time.

Student and parent borrowers must meet credit score requirements (though Sallie Mae does not publish a minimum credit score threshold), and the student or cosigner must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.


Editorial Selection: Best for Eligibility

  • Students loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • 1% cash back when you graduate
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

Ascent is a student lender offering undergraduate, graduate, and career loans to students and their parents. It does not have a specific acting school loan, but borrowers can get approved for a general student loan in just minutes online.

Ascent offers a unique non-cosigned student loan option, which allows students to qualify for funding based on their projected outcome, even if they don’t have a credit score.

  • Fixed rates: 3.22% to 14.75% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.75% to 12.30% APR
  • In-school repayment options: Full, interest-only, flat $25, or deferred
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $400,000

What stands out about Ascent’s acting school loan

Ascent offers a unique loan option for borrowers who don’t want to add a cosigner. This non-cosigned loan allows students to borrow for acting school based on their degree program, GPA, or year in school. The grace period on Ascent loans is nine months, after which borrowers can also request a progressive repayment schedule if they need to ease into their monthly payment obligation.

Eligibility requirements for Ascent’s acting school loan

To qualify for an Ascent student loan, students must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible institution. Cosigned and non-cosigned loan borrowers will need to meet Ascent’s minimum credit score requirement (which is proprietary), but outcomes-based and non-cosigned borrowers can get approved with no credit.


Editorial Selection: Best for No Fees

  • Student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents
  • Skip 1 payment per year
  • Check your rate without hurting your credit

Private loans through Earnest can help undergraduate and graduate borrowers get funds for acting school. Earnest doesn’t offer a specific loan for acting students, but its private student loans can pay up to 100% of your acting school expenses if you or your cosigner meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • Fixed rates: 3.22%12.78% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.34%11.44% APR
  • In-school repayment options: Full, interest-only, flat $25, or deferred
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance

What stands out about Earnest’s acting school loan

Earnest allows borrowers to skip one payment per year as needed with no impact on the borrower’s credit. It offers qualifying students a nine-month grace period after graduation and loan repayment forbearance.

Borrowers must refinance their loans to remove a cosigner’s financial obligation to the debt. Earnest does not offer student loans in Nevada at the time of writing.

Eligibility requirements for Earnest’s acting school loan

To qualify for an Earnest private student loan, borrowers or their cosigners need a minimum FICO credit score of 650, an annual income of at least $35,000, and to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with no history of bankruptcy. Students must also be enrolled full-time at an eligible institution.

How to get acting school loans

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the first step toward taking out a student loan. Fill out this form as early as possible each year before the deadline so you have access to all available financial aid.
  2. Consider all free money available. Various federal grants and scholarships may be available, which offer free money you don’t need to repay. Some states use the FAFSA to determine student eligibility for grants or scholarships.
  3. Take advantage of federal loan options. The award letter from your school will tell you how much you can borrow in federal student loans. First, take out any subsidized loans offered. The government pays the interest on these while you’re in school, so they’ll save you the most money. Then determine whether you can meet all your tuition and expense needs with the remaining federal loans.
  4. Shop around for the best private loan terms. If you need private student loans to cover remaining acting school costs, it’s smart to shop around for the right loan. Compare different lenders’ rates and loan terms before choosing the one that best meets your needs.