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Acting school, just like most post-secondary education, requires substantial funding these days. If you are lucky enough to have financial support from family or have saved up for tuition on your own, funding isn’t a major concern. But many college graduates today use student loans to pay for their education costs.
The majority of students pursuing an acting career, whether at a local community college or at prestigious schools such as New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, will need to use student loans just like anyone else. There is a wide range in tuition for acting schools—from as low as $5,000 to as high as $40,000 per year depending on the school, according to the Campus Explorer.
As an aspiring actor, you might be wondering if it’s just as easy to get funding for your acting college degree as it is for any other degree. Thankfully, for most accredited schools, both private and public, financial aid is available for qualifying students. While it’s never guaranteed, it might not be as hard to access as you might first assume.
- How to Pay for Acting School
- Student Loans for Acting School
- Scholarships and Grants for Acting School
How to Pay for Acting School
Prestigious acting schools with a world-renowned reputation naturally come with a higher price tag. A school like the Boston Conservatory at Berklee charges over $31,000 in tuition and annual fees. If you are also looking for on-campus housing and a meal plan, you’ll need another $20,000 (final price tag will vary depending on meal plan specified). At a more affordable school, like Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, students can expect to pay $5,620 for tuition and a much lower cost of just over $7,000 for room and board.
No matter what school you are planning to attend, you may need to explore getting a little financial assistance through a student loan. First things first—determine if your school is accredited. It must be accredited through a state agency (public schools), a professional agency, or an accrediting agency.
Check these agency websites to see if they apply to your school of choice. The next step for every student is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the one-stop shop for all types of federally available aid, grants, and student loans.
Student Loans for Acting School
Federal Student Loans
Federal student loans are issued based on the information you provided on the FAFSA. Typically, federal student loans are based on demonstrated financial need. Once you’ve applied, your school’s financial aid office will send you an offer for federal financial aid, if approved.
For any eligible program, including many four-year acting degrees, the maximum allowable loan through the federal government is $12,500 per year from Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans. Perkins Loans are up to $5,500 per year. Students attending both public and private acting schools, so long as they are accredited, are eligible for federal student aid.
Private Student Loans
Private student loan lenders are often much more accessible than federal student aid. They have fewer restrictions, but they tend to come with less favorable interest rates and fewer (if any) protections should you go into a financial crisis. If you need a student loan, it’s advisable to apply with the FAFSA first, and then explore private student loans if needed.
Private student loans, from the likes of Sallie Mae or SunTrust Bank, provide students with the funding they need to cover the costs of their acting school. Interest rates and maximum loan amount will vary depending on financial need, credit history, and cost of attendance.
Student Loans for an Unaccredited School
Unaccredited acting schools come with some risks, as a qualifying agency does not recognize their programs and final diploma or certificate. Before applying to one of these schools, consider whether or not you’ll be able to find a job post-graduation. Another challenge to attending non-accredited schools is funding. Federal student aid only applies to accredited schools, and many private student loans also might not apply.
Likely any private student loans you can find for unaccredited acting schooling will come with very few protections and higher interest rates than you can afford. If an unaccredited school is the one you choose, explore using property or other assets for a secured loan, or using grants and scholarships instead of student loans.
Scholarships and Grants for Acting School
The first stop on your quest to find scholarships and other free money for school is your school’s financial aid office. They can easily provide you with a good list of which grants and scholarships are available specifically for your program with your level of financial need and academic standing.
You can argue that even before you apply to get a student loan (federal or private), you should first apply to all available scholarships. Getting a scholarship to cover the cost of acting college tuition is preferable to borrowing money, with interest, and having to pay it back.
After you’ve visited your financial aid office, take a quick review through many scholarship databases available online. They often compile scholarships and grants based on school program or region.
Author: Jeff Gitlen