Ideally, you’d be able to finance your entire music school education with personal savings, grants, scholarships, and earnings from a part-time job. Unfortunately, most students will end up needing to take out student loans for a portion of their music school tuition.
Applying for Federal Student Loans
To receive federal student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and list the name of the school you wish to attend. This is a separate form from your college application, since the U.S. Department of Education is in charge of awarding loans.
The FAFSA will generally require information on income and assets for both you and your parents according to what is listed on tax returns for the previous year. Unless you are 24, married, have a child, are a military veteran, or are a ward of the state, you will be considered a dependent student for the purpose of awarding student loans. Whether or not your parents are actually planning on assisting with the cost of your music school tuition is irrelevant. However, if your parents are divorced, you will generally be expected to provide information only for the custodial parent.
Stafford Loans are the primary type of federal student loan. These student loanscan be either subsidized or unsubsidized, but both types do not require repayment until you have finished music school. If you receive a subsidized loan, the government pays the interest while you are in school. If you receive an unsubsidized loan, interest begins accumulating immediately. There are limits on the total amount of money you are allowed to borrow, based on factors such as your student status, cost of attendance, and how many years of music school you have completed.
If your parents are planning to assist with the cost of your music school education, they may be eligible for the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) program. A loan awarded through this program is in the parent’s name only, so the student is not legally responsible for repayment. Interest rates are higher than a Stafford Loan and repayment must begin immediately. However, parents are allowed to borrow up to the full cost of attendance for the qualified music school student.
Other Options for Music School Tuition Assistance
Sometimes, federal student loans are not a practical option for financing education expenses. In this case, you may wish to pursue private student loans that are awarded through banks or financing companies. Home equity loans may also be an option to consider, although it is important to keep in mind that you will risk losing the property to foreclosure if you are unable to repay the loan. It is best to read the terms of the agreement very carefully before using private student loans or home equity loans to pay for music school tuition expenses.