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Old 12-29-2017, 04:58 AM
Location: Florida
4,081 posts, read 3,062,520 times
Reputation: 8596


My daughter is a freshman in high school and wants to go to school for animation. There’s a fairly prestigious (and expensive!) art school 45 minutes from our home. She would need six figures in loans to attend that school for four years. I don’t want to discourage her dreams, but at the same time, we need to be realistic: How many art majors are going to be making the money needed to pay that off?

So, she’s a sensible teen (for now, anyway), and there’s a state school that is located next door to the art school. She could attend the state school for significantly less and then take some art classes at the art school. If her passion for animating continues, then this might be an option worth looking into.

While some modest debt might be unavoidable, there’s no reason to go out of state or to a specialty/private school without hefty scholarships if it means you’ll be taking on large amounts of debt. It’s not a good way to start off adulthood.

All of that being said, 15-year-olds are not always the most rational creatures and they have no idea what paying off that type of debt might entail. Some calculations using the average salary of an artist or musician (and with the number of artists and musicians working as baristas or waiters, this dollar amount will be low) and the average rent/utilities/etc in the area she’s considering might help her understand that a college debt payment might make it infeasible.
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:28 PM
Location: North Dakota
7,040 posts, read 8,195,061 times
Reputation: 9239
Most people graduate with debt. I wouldn't let that discourage her at all.
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:16 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,790 posts, read 37,451,783 times
Reputation: 20794
I wish mine had gone to the schools of their choice. (or better choice for their majors)

They are doing very well (10 yrs beyond college), but... they always wished they had stepped up the undergrad Alma Mater.

It was only 2 yrs, so they could have handled the extra $$ (They had AAS (with 100% transfer credit contracts as full JR in U's at same time as HS graduation).

They were each in high risk / high pay summer employment (~$40k), so money should not have been the weak link.
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Old 12-31-2017, 02:44 PM
9 posts, read 3,832 times
Reputation: 31
So how much in student loans are you actually talking about? There's debt, and then there's DEBT. If she's going to graduate $200k in debt, she won't be able to afford to try to pursue animation or music. She'll have too much in debt to allow her to do so. And at $50k/year, you'll need to take out some loans for her - she won't qualify for enough in federal loans on her own. You'd need the Parent PLUS loan.

I very strongly recommend to students that they not make any school their "dream school" until they apply, get in, and see the financial aid offer. They then need to run the numbers - how much in loans will each school require? This should be part of the decision. When I talk to students about college fit, I include financial fit. It's fine for her to apply to any school she wants to, but she must consider financial fit in her decision on where to attend, and in terms of some of the schools she applies to. All the more important if she wants to pursue fields that tend to be paid nothing/very little at first, such as animation or music.

She can apply to the two schools you mentioned. She should also apply to a public uni in her home state, one which has good programs in her potential majors, if only as a financial backup should she not get the non-loan aid she needs to attend the others. She should also do research to find schools that are strong in her field(s), and which tend to give good non-loan aid. And apply to some.

If you don't mind telling me what state you're in, I may be able to recommend a public uni there that offers good programs in the fields she wants. Likewise, if you can let me know what region she wants to study in, if it's specific, then I can look and see if any schools strong in her fields offer good non-loan aid.
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Old 12-31-2017, 03:37 PM
5,643 posts, read 5,106,164 times
Reputation: 10150
Some debt is fine, just watch the amount. The rule of thumb is that for every $10,000 in loans it will translate to around $100-150 a month in payments after graduation (depending on the type of loan and interest rate). So you should help her think about what kind of salary she’s likely to make after graduation and come up with an amount of borrowing that seems reasonable. Then stick to that limit.

Go to every school she applied to/will apply to and search for something called their Net Price Calculator. Enter your info and it should give you an esitamate of how much financial aid she can expect if she gets in. It’s no guarantee but it gives you an idea what you are up against. That way you can Feel out what the real cost is and which schools are completely out of the question.

Also, it’s a bit late in the cycle but she should apply to a bunch of scholarships as well. Once she gets into schools she can check and see how they handle scholarships (some reduce your aid if you have a scholarship, some don’t). Also see if the schools she’s applying to have internal scholarships she can apply for.

Don’t make any decisions until she gets in and gets financial aid offers. Sometimes you can negotiate those as well so you really won’t know until you late April where things stand.

Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:15 PM
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
24,718 posts, read 59,579,994 times
Reputation: 26823
Undergrad - yes. I think it should be one of the most critical factors. For grad school it becomes more important which school you attend. If you go to Harvard grad school no one will care where you went undergrad. .

Not going to grad school? rethink college. Unless you are going into engineering, nursing, teaching, or IT, it may not be worth the expense and time.
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:32 PM
1,936 posts, read 3,300,856 times
Reputation: 3332
Full ride scholarships still exist. In fact, based on the experience of our sons I suspect geographic diversity can be an assistance in securing scholarships. A school far away may be willing to offer more financial assistance to have greater geographic diversity on campus.
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Old 01-03-2018, 08:09 PM
Location: WI
2,820 posts, read 3,062,694 times
Reputation: 4815
Depends. If your life goal is to become a 5th grade teacher, it’d be really, really stupid to take on debt to go to an expensive private school. The name on your diploma isn’t important.

If you want to work on Wall Street...that’s a different story, and I don’t think taking on debt for a name-brand school is necessarily the worst thing in the world.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:04 PM
Location: Middle America
35,817 posts, read 39,346,783 times
Reputation: 48613
For me, my priorities were best programs for my goals, and affordability. That didn't mean no debt, as that was unlikely/impossible. It meant finding the school that met my criteria for academic opportunities with the most favorable ratio of financial aid to sticker price.

I wouldn't have gone to a cheaper school that didn't meet my needs just because it was cheaper, but finding the best value for the programs I wanted was definitely a priority. And I applied multiple places that fit the bill, program-wise, and went with the one that offered the best deal.

Last edited by TabulaRasa; 01-03-2018 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:40 PM
27 posts, read 13,515 times
Reputation: 20
We're in Louisiana and she can go to LSU or UNO (or any state uni) essentially for free. She also can go to a small, private liberal arts college in Missouri for free as the daughter of a retired professor from there. So she has 3 good choices right now.

She wants to get out of Louisiana, I get that, but am encouraging her to consider the choices above, otherwise try to get scholarships. I really want to avoid loans, for her and for me.

She is on track to get at least a 4.0 (weighted) and she plays the flute (in honors orchestra, she competes, she's pretty good and is serious about it). She's artistic too and is (says she) serious about digital art as well and is taking any and all art/animation/drafting classes she can at school.
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