Student Loans For Acting School

student loans for those looking to get into acting as a profession can use the student loans available and other options as well like scholarships and grants. Students attending unaccredited schools can also get student loans and pay for acting school.

Updated by Chandni Agarwal on 7th January 2020

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Acting has become one of the most demanding and difficult fields to enter. Even if you spend years polishing your skills you might end up struggling to find work or even get a pay of $18.70 per hour which is very less. According to the pay, acting school fees is very expensive and is not something that everybody can afford. 

According to a report, less than 15% of visual and performing arts majors end up working in their planned field, a report by Hamilton Project, a subset of the Brookings Institute focused on economic policy.

But that does not mean you cannot study acting. If one can afford then they don’t have to worry about the expenses related to it, but for the one who cannot afford it then there is a worry for it. 

Students pursuing an acting career may have to use their student loan whether they study in any local community college or a prestigious school like New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Depending on your school the tuition fees for acting schools will vary from as low as $5,000 to as high as $40,000, 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. Let us explore the various student loans one can use for acting school.

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Getting student loans for acting school

Learning acting from a good acting school can be very expensive. For example, a world-renowned performing arts school(annual tuition at Juilliard) is $43,170. Even more, thousands can be added to your expenses as the amount doesn’t include the cost of housing or transportation.

If you don’t have enough money in your bank account then you may have financial aid to cover the cost. To get all the aids to want, the following are the steps:

1) Complete the Free Application For Federal Student Loan (FAFSA)

In order to qualify for any financial aid like grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans, submitting the FAFSA is a first and very important step. 

How much you and your family can afford to pay for school is determined by FAFSA. The government may opt that your Expected Family Contribution is low if you are a low-income student or have family members in school. This means that you will not be paying all the money from yourself, rather you may get eligible for student loans and federal grants.

2) Compare the cost of different programs

Depending on your acting school the price of the theater program will vary widely. You can opt for a number of schools to minimize how much you need to borrow in student loans, and at the time you apply in any school keep each school’s total cost in mind.

For Example, at Juilliard, the estimated total cost of attendance is $63,689. On the contrary, at the State University of New York a year cost of attendance in the theater program $21,832. Before borrowing thousands to make sure you choose the best option among all. Know that more budget-friendly schools can still offer quality education at a fraction of the price of other colleges.

3) Determine potential school’s eligibility for financial aid

Every school doesn’t qualify for federal student aid, while you choose your school to make sure that the school qualifies or not. 

To participate in any financial aid programs be ensured that your school is accredited which is required by the Department of Education. You will not qualify for any financial aid, including student loans if your school is not accredited.

Use the National Center of Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool, to know if a school qualifies for federal aid programs. You have to enter the school name and click on it. If the school will be listed then the site will show a drop-down menu of information, including all the financial aid options students will receive.

For example, in 2016, at Juilliard 170 undergraduate students received federal student loans. The average recipient took over $7,000 in federal loans alone. Other forms of aid like scholarships and grants were received by 420 students.


Evaluating your options for acting school

Once you decide among the programs, then you have to decide the loan which will be best suitable for you.

Federal Student Loans

The Department of Education offers federal student loans and it can be the first choice for the source of loan you can use. In comparison to private loans, they have lower interest rates and more benefits.   

These benefits can be very helpful after you graduate. For example, federal loans can qualify for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. With an IDR plan, a percentage of your discretionary income is set as your monthly payment by the government. You can manage your bills easily, with your much lower payment, as an actor starting the career.

If you are a current student then there are three loans available for you:

1) Direct Subsidized Loans

 The interest rate in Subsidized loan is 4.45%. The cost of interest accumulated while you are in school, for six months after you graduate, and if your loans have entered in forbearance or deferment are covered by government with these loans.

2) Direct Unsubsidized Loans

In unsubsidized loans, the whole interest rate accumulated while you are in school will be paid by the borrower only. The interest rate in an unsubsidized loan is 4.45%.

3) Direct PLUS loans

Plus loans are the loans that are borrowed by graduates or parents for their child’s education. The interest rate in PLUS loan is 7%.

Besides, a federal student loan has many perks and provides cheaper rates than other forms of loans. But the amount of loan can be borrowed in federal student loan is limited. For example, a maximum amount of $9,500 can only be borrowed by the first-year independent students. The amount of total cost of attendance also won’t cover even if you attend public school. You will have to find another way to pay your rest amount.  

For any eligible program, including many four-year acting degrees. From Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans, the maximum amount of loans allowed by the federal government is $12,500 per year, $5,500 per year for Perkins loans. No matter if students are attending both private and public acting schools, they are eligible for federal student aid only if the school is accredited.

Private Student Loans

You can use your private student loan option after exhausting all your federal loans. With private loans, you can borrow the amount you need to cover your education depending on lenders to lenders.

Banks and financial institutions offer private student loans while federal student loans are offered by the government. It’s always a good idea to look at all the different lenders before choosing one as they have their eligibility requirements, interest rates, and repayment terms.


Student loans for unaccredited schools

Some risks are there when it is unaccredited school, the final diploma or certificate and their programs are not recognized by the qualifying agency. You should consider whether or not you will be able to find a job after post-graduation, before applying to any such school. Funding is another major challenge when you opt for unaccredited school. Only accredited schools can apply for a federal student loan, and many private student loans also don’t apply. 

If you are taking admission to an unaccredited acting school, it will have few protections and higher interest rates than you can afford so it’s better to get a loan on the property or other loans apart from the student loans or instead use scholarships and grants instead of loans.


Scholarships and Grants for acting school

Your school’s financial aid office should be the first place to have any question to find scholarships and any other free money. With the understanding of the level of financial needs and academic standing, they can guide in a better way with a good list of which scholarships and grants will be available specifically for your programs.

You can apply to all the scholarships available, before applying to get any student loan (federal or private). If you get5 scholarship it will be more beneficial to cover the cost of your acting school rather than a borrowing loan, which comes with the interest and again you have a burden of paying it back. 

Take a quick review of many scholarship databases available online, after you visit your financial aid office. Many times they compile scholarships and grants based on school programs or regions.


Paying for acting school

When you take any student loan for acting school, make sure you overview all the options available so that you choose the best option for yourself. Working hard now can help you achieve a better future and without any burden of student loans.