The cost of music school can seem prohibitively high, especially if you’re one of the first people in your family to pursue postsecondary education. Fortunately, most students who attend music school receive some form of financial aid. It is rare for a student to be asked to pay full price for his degree.
About Financial Aid
Financial aid comes in several different types, but grants are one of the best possible forms of assistance you can receive. This is money awarded based on financial need that you will never need to repay. The more grant money you receive, the lower your student loan debt will be when you graduate from music school.
Many students confuse grants with scholarships, but you should keep in mind that scholarships are awarded based on a variety of factors – including academic merit and musical talent. Grants are based exclusively on how much assistance you will need to pay for music school tuition. However, you must be attending an accredited music school on at least a half-time basis and must not previously have received a bachelor’s degree or higher in order to be eligible for grant money.
Applying for Grants
To apply for grants, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form will ask for information about your income and assets. Unless you meet the criteria for being named an independent student, such as being married, having a child, or being over the age of 24, you’ll also need to provide financial information for your parents. It does not matter if your parents are actually planning to assist with the cost of your music school education. If your parents are divorced, you will generally only need to provide financial information for the custodial parent.
Pell Grants are the most common type of grant for music school. Pell Grants are awarded to students on the basis of financial need. The grant amount will vary based on the cost of attendance at the music school you have selected, the other forms of financial aid you have received, and the federal funding that is available in the year you apply for aid. The maximum possible Pell Grant award for the 2011-2012 academic year was $5,550.
Students with an exceptionally high level of financial need may be eligible to receive a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) in addition to the Pell Grant. These grants range from $100 to $4,000 depending upon your qualified expenses and the amount of federal funding that is available for a particular year.
Grants are awarded on a yearly basis, so you will need to complete the FAFSA for each year you are attending music school. The grant money you receive will be sent directly to the school’s financial aid office to pay for your tuition and fees.