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tutumom

Yikes! College? Training? Financial aid? Oh my!

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tutumom

A graduating senior, DD has been accepted to 4 of the 5 ballet/university programs she auditioned for.

One gave about $9K in aid, against a $50K cost of attendance.
Another gave $18K in scholarships, $6K in student loans against a $51K cost of attendance.

We are waiting for 2 more ballet aid packages, and the state flagship package. Wish we had understood more about the financial aid situation (we are expected to take on a parent loan of btw $25k-$35K which is not a reasonable thing for our low-middle class family. We missed the PellGrant by about $600).

Dd is a smart and talented kid. This is SO stressful, to have to possibly turn these choices down because of money. But her carrying $80-$130K in debt and graduating with a BFA doesn't seem like a good idea.

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dancemaven

There are some Financial Aid calculators on various sites (even the individual colleges' websites, I think) that help folks figure what the likely cost of attendance is and what family contributions would be expected. You might check out CollegeConfidential.com for information regarding college costs, etc.

 

I remember when DD was a freshman in high school getting introduced to the high cost of college, parental contributions, and a wake up call as to what type of merit (academic) scholarships were really out there. I came away from that informational session feeling like I'd been punched in the gut. Our school had a partnership with a financial aid expert company that ran individual information for those that chose to participate so that we could get an idea as to what our 'parental contribution" expectation would be and what type of financial aid, if any, our family financial situation would qualify for. Parental contribution component is more often than not much, much higher than one might think. What the school thinks is appropriate is seldom the same as what the parents feel they have available. But it's the school's view that goes.

 

Having seen the BFA job market and knowing what dancers' salaries are or are might (not) be, I would be very, very hesitant to have a student carry a high student loan debt. At that point, I would either advise a post-grad training program or an academic degree at a college that does have the possibility of double majoring or would advise an academic degree and a dance minor. We have seen a number of BFA dancers with student loan debt that really limits their options in either job-hunting or returning to school because of the need to have a steady paycheck to cover student loan payments.

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jflyte

I feel your pain, having experienced this with my NDD. If one of my dancers decides to go to college, they will need to look at public universities with dance programs within our state. If they wish to audition at other colleges, it will be with the understanding that, without a substantial scholarship, they won't be able to go even if they get in.

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adam12

There are many people with six figures in student loans who got a BA or BS and don't earn enough to justify the cost.

 

The math is probably worse for a typical BFA student. Is a double major possible?

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Momof3darlings

After you look at the info on college confidential and get a grasp on those calculators, call or write the Financial Aid offices to touch base and see if there are other options for scholarships, aid, etc. Also, check your state to see if they offer the same degree within. If not, there may be some state vouchers you can get to attend out of state schools in those degree areas not held within state. Those most times come in reciprocal dropping of any "out of state" tuition fees, but are possible. This also sometimes works if you state has programs for A/B students within state, they will arrange vouchers if that degree is not held in state.

 

Academic scholarships are always the way to go since Dance scholarships are generally smaller. Good luck. It was the academic scholarships that brought DD's aid to a point where we would afford out of state tuition, not the dance awards. She ended up not going to college full time, but knowing what I know now, I"m glad DD2 is in state.

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LovesLabor

No ideas, tutumom. We are just coming down from our second non-dancer's roller coaster college application ride this year. I don't even want to think too hard about what's on the horizon for our dancer child next year. Even for the non-dancer, it is not always about getting accepted, like you say, but finding out how to pay for it and how much debt to take on. For that reason, the 2nd non-dancer child mainly limited himself to lower tuition colleges that had predictable merit aid based on GPA, SAT. Rigorous courses and interesting out-of-school activities earned him a few more $$$ in aid above and beyond the published merit awards. So in the end, he was able to get tuition + room and board for as low as $6,000 in public , in-state schools, and $12,000 for out of state, small private schools, once his federal loans were applied and before we were brought into the picture. For this kid, these seem to have been the realistic thresholds for him. I was really hoping that dd could find similar situations, but haven't yet figured out how/if that translates once a quality dance program has to be included in the mix.

 

I know this may not help your situation, tutumom, but it is perhaps something to think about for those coming down the line. That is, pay attention to the academic side of high school, and yes, SAT prep really did make a huge difference for our N-DS and his college options. I guess my big question for those who have gone before with all this, is how a dk has the time and energy to establish those, oh so reverenced 'leadership skills' that seem to be the holy grail of every admissions office and scholarship application?

 

Also, even as a double major, if there is still a will to dance post college, how can those high debts be supported if the student is fortunate enough to secure a paid dancing position? I'm not yet convinced that double majors help financially with large debt loads, except in the long term. But I'm open to hearing counter arguments on that!

 

Because of all these issues, DD has independently come to the conclusion that she really doesn't want to pursue a BFA in college. She loves academics. I think she, understanding how expensive college will be for her, and how much debt it might incur, has decided that if she is going to spend all that money, then she might as well savor the academic side of things rather than try to cram it around the edges of dance. Perhaps she'll change her mind a year from now, as a senior, but that is her position right now.

 

Sorry, very scrambled, and stream of consciousness response. Just some rough notes from another parent peering into the void.

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adam12

I agree LovesLabor that a double major May not help in the short term.

 

However, in a scenario where a dance job cannot be found, or the pay is not enough, one could return to school for an MS/MA, deferring loan payments during that time.

 

With a BFA, it would hard to enter a non-MFA graduate program.

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kiwiwdancer

tutumom..our family in the .exact same boat! I am glad you started this thread.I will be following and keeping an eye on this as we have the same concerns/questions.

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dancemaven

With a BFA, it would hard to enter a non-MFA graduate program.

Actually not, adam12. DD has a BFA and has had absolutely no trouble getting admitted to both post-baccalaureate programs for medical school pre-requisites and to law schools. The BFA makes it possible for the dancer to transition into any program they have the pre-requisites for and it if, like medical school pre-requisites are still outstanding, they are eligible for those post-bacc programs for dental school, medical school, etc. For law school, they are ready to go after taking the LSAT. We've known dancers that have picked up pre-requisites post-BFA at either full colleges or community colleges to attend Physical Therapy school, as well, as other health related vocational programs.

 

The problem, of course, is if they have significant debt load from undergrad. The post-bacc programs are non-degree programs, so they are not eligible for the subsidized student loans (or something like that). At any rate, the loans or loan amounts available are significantly limited for the post-undergrad non-degree-seeking course work. Once one gets to the actual graduate degree-seeking program, the subsidized student loans become available again. But, . . . . .that is more debt, of course, that must be evaluated.

 

In addition, I believe, (but one would definitely want to check), subsidized student loans are not available if one is going back to seek a second undergrad degree.

 

LovesLabor, I would agree with you that the second major may not be as helpful if the dancer accepts non-paying positions post BFA graduation. As you point out, the student loan debt would still be there. I guess I was looking at it more from the point that with that second academic major, there are more opportunities to land an entry level job in the non-dance world ---even a part-time one---that might pay more than the local barrista or Whole Foods position that would give the dancer more flexibility in setting hours that would let her/him participate in project work, continue to audition, take classes, or participate in a trainee/apprentice/second company position.

 

Dancers we know who have not yet found a living wage paying-dance contract are hamstrung by their student loan debt and find themselves with none of the workplace background that would get them past the application stage of higher-than-minimum-wage jobs because they don't have the college major (degree) or the internship experiences. Without the internship experiences that they often get in college programs, they end up on the outside of the 'experience required' despite the job being an entry level job.

 

Taking classes sufficient to maintain a company-ready technique level is very, very challenging when 1) the classes must be paid for, and 2) the classes must be worked around a (typically) minimum wage, entry-level job that usually has changing schedules, less flexibility, and harsh absence policies, and 3) pay rent and living expenses.

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leaper

Much to my DS's consternation, I am reading aloud from this thread. We have 4 offers to consider for college and the longterm domino effect of cost and loans and projected income are a lot to take in. Believe me this road is not for the faint of heart.

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adam12

There is no need to take what I say on faith. It is a simple enough task to read about the admission and degree requirements of different kinds of programs, both grad and undergrad, online.

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Temps de cuisse

One option if you are in situation that has a very good pre-pro is to take gen ed credits at the local community college and keep dancing at your pre-pro. This can give a student a year to weigh options of trying for a trainee or apprentice position after this year while accumulating credits or deciding on university after all. This can save thousands of dollars!

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Twinkle Mom

That is a good option and a cost-saving one. However, one also needs to keep in mind that many of the significant academic scholarships are for incoming freshmen. If one has community college credits taken after high school graduation under her/his belt, that student will come in as a transfer student, and therefore ineligible for those academic scholarships.

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Lady Elle

But the two years at the community college will probably save FAR more than what you would be receiving in scholarships. In the end, its really not about how much you save (with scholarships), its how much you've spent! I have a dd graduating college this year with a heap of student loans starting up in 6 months and big concerns over landing a job right now! And thats not in dance!!

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tutumom

I would say to not only explore the well known programs (that all the dancers want, of ourselves) but consider the smaller programs. Big fish, little pond. Less expense, less debt.

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