How much debt is too much debt for MTs?

<p>I'm in the process of making my decision, and though it's still early and I've yet to hear from some schools (as to whether or not I'm in) and from some financial aid departments, I'm starting to really be considering the reality of money and what happens if I don't get what I need from schools (financially).</p>

<p>How much debt, in your opinion, is the realistic limit for an actor to have after finishing their undergrad degree?</p>

<p>Best case - none...but that isnt always possible</p>

<p>I reommend looking at what you can reasonably afford if you are NOT performing when you get out of school. You will have to eat and pay rent and the myriad other things grown ups do. ANd then add a loan payment to that.</p>

<p>There are lots of online calculators for loan payments. I recommend plugging in some numbers and seeing what kind of payments come out. Then we looked at how many hours it would take at current minimum wage to pay that loan(just for example purposes). It is important to realize that just because someone might loan you large sums you might not want to take out those loans( I can afford the payments on a Lexus according to calculators but NO WAY am I going to make those kinds of payments!)</p>

<p>I suspect there may be some rules tightening as the ecomony tightens up. </p>

<p>Good luck,

<p>I just realized my previous post is extremely vague, so a little bit of background:</p>

<p>I have been accepted to my first choice school, which has been my "dream" MT school since I made the decision to pursue a career in the theater. It completely embodies absolutely everything that I want in my training and in my college experience in general. However, it's also a very expensive school and money is definitely a concern for my family.</p>

<p>I've also been accepted to some other schools (for acting, not MT) that are towards the lower end of my "list." However, these schools have been very generous with their financial offers and I could graduate from them with no debt and my parents would be able to help out if I decided to go to grad school.</p>

<p>As far as the MT vs. acting debate goes, I really firmly believe that any theater performer ultimately needs to be a strong actor. I also hope to be able to work in musicals and plays after graduation. Therefore, I'm okay being in an acting department if it would allow be the ability to pursue MT training as well (either inside or outside the department). I can't say upfront what quality that training would be, though.</p>

<p>Assuming that I don't get a stellar financial offer from my first choice school, I realize that my quality of life during school will not be as high as it could be elsewhere (meaning having to work a lot, basic housing/meals, no spring break trips to cool places, etc.) and am entirely willing to accept that. At the same time, I don't know how much is too much in terms of student loans - it's obviously different in this field because the theater is such an inconsistent occupation.</p>

<p>Any pearls of wisdom/insight are greatly appreciated! Thanks!</p>

<p>hmmm.....surprised no others have weighed in. </p>

<p>We faced the debt associated with a dream school(since a child, in BEST city etc) who offered $1000 financial aid. Off a $50K+ bill. Our deal was we would pay 50% of anywhere so D would have assumed almost 100K over 4 years. On recommendation of someone who teaches there, I even called and expressed concern and what other offers were on the table. Sorry, no need. This has not been the case with others but we were caught in a bind.</p>

<p>SO get your offers, compare them carefully and decide what you can handle (similar to a financial advisor calculating your risk).</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Thanks Mikksmom for this and your earlier post - I really appreciate it! I'm so torn right now and obviously will be waiting to hear about money before I make my decision, but am hoping that by starting thinking about it now I'll alleviate some stress later down the line. Thanks!</p>

<p>When this came up a year or two ago, I was in the minority of respondents. I feel that if your plan is to move to NYC, or attempt to pursue acting immediately upon graduation, you need to be as close to debt-free as you can.</p>

I realize that my quality of life during school will not be as high as it could be elsewhere (meaning having to work a lot, basic housing/meals, no spring break trips to cool places, etc.) and am entirely willing to accept that.


<p>Working is problematic for many MT majors - at most schools, you have classes all day, rehearsals every night, master classes and other commitments on Saturdays. Oh, you might have to fit in some study time too!! My D's only trips in spring were to summer stock auditions, which generally were not in cool places :) </p>

<p>D has friends who will have debt payments of $800 - $900 / month upon graduation, for many years -- that would be tough to handle even in a field where you were more assured of employment when you got out of school. If you have to cover that, plus living expenses, it makes it very difficult to live in the city and have a job with enough flexibility to pursue auditions. (and this is from a school that is relatively reasonable, compared to some others)</p>

<p>In my opinion, developing a financial plan is as important as assembling a good list of schools for which you want to audition.</p>

<p>actormfamous, I'm in the same predicament as you are. I was awarded 75% paid scholarship to schools in FL that accepted me for BA, but I was recently accepted to my first choice for BFA out of state. </p>

<p>Work-study is a GREAT idea! talk to your school and see what they might have in that area. If they accepted you for BFA they obviously want you and wouldn't like to let you go. So they will most likely help you work something out financially.</p>

<p>Best of luck!!</p>

<p>Keep in mind that, as MusThCC stated, students in MT programs will probably have little time for a job. My D qualified for work-study, and wanted to work, but it has been impossible for her to find any kind of a job that would work with her schedule. Her classes run from 8 am to 5 pm, and she usually only has about an hour for dinner before evening rehearsals, which run till 11 pm. Somewhere in there she has to find time to do homework, including rehearsals with scene partners for classes. I think you will find most other BFA programs are equally time-consuming. Don't count on a work-study job to help you very much with your financial burden.</p>

<p>As others have commented, the time demands on MT students can make it very tough to work a job, particularly where jobs available to college students usually are relatively low paying and therefore require a load of hours to make enough to really help with living expenses.</p>

<p>The solution my daughter came up with was to get a job with an entertainment company that works Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Sweet 16's and corporate parties. She works as a dancer/party motivator. The jobs are usually on weekends, require about 5 hours at a shot and she can control her schedule by advising of which days she is available on a monthly basis. Depending on the type of job, she can make anywhere from $25 to $45 per hour for basically going to other peoples parties and doing what comes naturally for students in an MT program. That's not to say that she doesn't work her butt off on these jobs but it's a lot more fun than standing behind a cash register for not much better minimum wage and enables her to make a decent buck with an investment of time that doesn't conflict with her school responsibilities.</p>

<p>Maybe in the list of "Dream colleges" should be one that is affordable.</p>

<p>As a student who has a decent amount of savings I would advise to go with the school which gives you the most financial aid personally. I have savings enough that could last me about 3 years at an in-state school however wouldn't even cover a full year at some MT colleges that are considered the "top". This isn't the type of industry where you can afford to have massive amounts of debts. The economy in this country is horrible right now and at the moment it looks like it may get worse before it gets better. It's not the time to be saddled with $100,000 in student loan debt, unless you're a lead on Broadway continually from the time your out of school, you could be in your 30s/40s before it's entirely paid off with all the interest that will accumulate.</p>

<p>There are a few grad schools that offer an MT degree so why not focus on an acting program at a cheaper undergraduate school then save up for the masters degree?</p>

<p>actresstobe is pretty much right on the mark. The probability that anyone will succeed at becoming a full-time working actor is so low, that to take on debt in pursuit of this endeavor is extremely risky. Anyone would be hard pressed to be paying back big college loans while waiting tables in between auditions.</p>

<p>While pursuing your dream is the perfect fantasy, life will intrude. Consider what your resources and options will be after you graduate.....there will be no guarantees. If going to your dream school now means you have to move back home post-degree in order to live, you will not have access to the same opportunities as you would if you can graduate debt free. Good luck with your first really adult decision. Lorelei</p>

<p>I agree that choosing the school that offers the best financial package is a smart thing to do, very few graduates make enough money in this industry right away (some never) to support large loans, plus the cost of life. As far as working while in college, my S does, he has two jobs. One is work study, the best thing about that is many work study jobs are fairly low key (you have to choose the right one) and you can get studying done at work, most of the time they are very understanding about changing the schedule while he is in rehearsals. Also he along with MANY other students have church jobs where they sing in church choirs, it involves a minimum ammount of time, a two hour rehearsal on Wed night and church on Sunday morning. So many of the kids at his school do it that they work around it in rehearsals, they make between 50 and 100 dollars a week. Yes, he is very busy, but it is worth it to him to get his education.</p>

<p>One of the most interesting parts of the BW audition is the Master Class which parents and students are encouraged to attend. Ours was a casting agent from NYC and after he critiqued the seniors and some underclassmen he opened the forum for some Q and A. After some questions on how to secure an agent in NYC following graduation someone did ask the question on how someone would lose their agent once they were accepted into their agency for representation. The gentlemen apologized to the parents in the group first and said he was sure that many did not want to hear the following news. He would drop a client if they had to miss auditions because they had to work (i.e waitress). He said for the first year their main job was to audition. He said it would be best if someone (hello? parents) could pay for expenses the first year so that the only job was running the audition circuit. I thought it was an interesting insight and I'd share it although I'm sure it's not reality for most but food for thought as many are making decision if we (or they) should take on massive amounts of debt. I also heard today on the radio that three major student loan providers are now freezing their programs based on the economy and poor performance on student payback.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone; I really appreciate it! This could end up being one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make (if not THE hardest), but I'm hoping that financial aid works out so I won't have to take out loans, or if I do they will be minimal. </p>

<p>I'd love to hear thoughts from anyone out there who went through an MT program with student loans (or had a S/D do so) as to what their experience has been like since. Thanks so much!</p>

<p>actormcfamous- The opportunity in front of you is incredible! There has been at least 1000 kids(this year alone) trying to get into U of Mich and you made it! Getting a degree in anything from this school should open a lot of doors. Not only is it one of the best MT schools but I believe it is ranked as one of the top 10 colleges in the country. Even if you get a full ride scholarship to a BA school generally you still have to pay for room & board, books, fees and meals, approximately 10K. The point is you still may have loans. If your parents don't make a lot of money then there will be some nice aid packages available to you and if they do then hopefully they can help out. Best of luck!</p>

<p>MTDad, if you are interested in rankings, UMichigan is ranked #25 of National Universities by USNews and World Report. This doesn't include liberal arts colleges, just universities. However, UMichigan is one of the best regarded public universities, along with other publics like UCLA, UNC-Chapel Hill, UVA, and UC-Berkeley.</p>

<p>soozievt - you're the counselor and have better access to information than I do but according to the Princeton Review it is #6 for best career prospects. My point is that it's a fine school. Also, aren't there a bunch of publications that rank schools and they all are a bit different? Can I assume from your post that the best publications are USNews and World Report?</p>


<p>Something else to consider when deciding between your dream school and one that is more affordable, is will you be happy at your second choice school? My S had a VERY successful audition season two years ago and was accepted into some very selective schools. We were very naive about the process, but it all worked out and he had made his decision and we were all happy! Then mid April a very nice scholarship came through from another school and we pretty much convinced him to go where the money was (he would have graduated debt free!). We were sure he could make the best of anything and be happy as long as he was in an MT program and he knew some of the staff at the college making the offer. He wasn't in the program very long to realize that it wasn't a good fit for him. He stayed the year and was cast in two different shows, but his heart wasn't there. Unfortunately, he didn't make the decision not to go back until June which meant no MT program this past year ~ just another round of auditions as a transfer! He stayed home this year and attended community college (got lots of gen eds taken care of), did a couple mediocre community theater shows and school didn't cost us much out of pocket because of State scholarship money that wasn't able to be used out of State last year. He's had successes this year auditioning and had his first acceptance by Thanksgiving so he knew he'd be going somewhere in the Fall...and as a bonus they have accepted credits from last years college plus all the gen eds he's taken so far. I feel like I'm rambling. I've not posted much in the past, however, I think you need to know that it doesn't always work out when you settle for what may be second best. We are hoping that since he has his gen eds mostly out of the way in addition to the theater credits already applied that his schedule will allow for a part time job to help out a little. We'll see. Good luck with your decision!</p>