Transfer to MICA vs SAIC

I’m a transfer student from Virginia. Both MICA and SAIC offered me around half tuition in Scholarships and grants. I also got into VCUarts but was not given any scholarships. I didn’t really like it when i visited and my scholarships from the other schools match the instate tuition so I’m not really considering it. For MICA I would be an illustration major and for SAIC I’m a Graphic Design major. Essentially I would like to explore both (possibly minor or double major) and i was wondering if anyone had any insight on these schools/programs?

How many years would you have left at any of these places? In your other thread, you indicated that you would need loans of about 20k each year in order to attend any of them. If you are eligible to borrow the federal student loans, there are limits of $5,500 freshman year, $6,500 sophomore year, $7,500 junior year, and $7,500 senior year for dependent students. To borrow more than that you will need a co-signer. Have you lined that up? Or, will your parents be borrowing that money with parent PLUS loans?

Do you have work already lined up that will allow you to pay off this kind of debt after graduation?

Do you have any place where you could finish your education without that level of debt?

I have 2 years left. I applied to VCUArts as my back up option if the other schools were too expensive, but i wasn’t anticipating getting no aid from a state school. My mom has agreed to sign the parent plus loan for whichever school I go to. I’m pretty confident in my ability to find a job as a graphic artist after I graduate based on how I’ve been doing so far with my freelance work and internships. The debt isn’t ideal, but i don’t really see another option. This was my 3rd time applying to colleges and I just can’t seem to avoid it.

Both MICA and SAIC have pretty flexible curricula. MICA was big on major/minor combinations when my daughter was considering it. You should read the Academics portion of each website and speak to an admissions counselor about flexibility/further requirements to fulfill given that you are coming in as a transfer. My hunch, having visited both places, is that the best school for you (aside from financial considerations) is the one that just feels like it’s the right fit.

You might also consider where you want to launch your career. MICA is going to be better known in the East while SAIC will have easy name recognition in the Midwest. However, based on my own kid’s recent experience with the job hunt, the biggest weight will be given to your portfolio and prior job experience. Internships and freelance will be very helpful there, so attend the school that continues to help you build your expertise and resume. You very likely can’t go wrong with either place.

Congrats and good luck to you!

Thank you very much!! I appreciate all the info, I’ll definitely take this into consideration

Are you transferring from a community college, or can you just stay and finish your degree where you are? How much debt do you already have?

@happymomof1 I was at community college, will have my associates of visual arts by the end of the summer. I don’t have any debt so far.

Go talk with your financial aid office. Find out if there still is time for you to borrow the sophomore year federal student loan. That would be $6500. You could put it into the bank and use it in a future year. Depending on how your CC handles its summer session, that might be possible. Then for academic year 2019-2020 you would borrow the junior year loan of $7500 for whichever place it is that you do decide to attend. While this won’t magically reduce your and your mom’s potential total debt burden, it will shift more of it onto you alone.

If your mom co-signs rather than borrowing parent PLUS loans, look around for affordable life and disability insurance policies for yourself in the amount of your co-signed loans. That way if something truly unfortunate should happen to you, she won’t be left owing that loan.

My daughter is a current student (rising sophomore) at MICA but also seriously considered SAIC as well (and did a summer program there). From what I understand, SAIC is significantly more flexible, and doesn’t even really have actual majors–you basically get a general Bachelor of Fine Arts (with some optional emphases–I think writing or art education) and simply take a set number of studio credits (in anything you want) plus the required courses. Whereas MICA has set major study programs with specific requirements. So you would probably have a lot more flexibility at SAIC, if that’s something that’s important to you. Another difference I seem to remember was that SAIC didn’t have letter grades–everything was done via critiques and then you receive a credit or no credit (I think you had to have the equivalent of a C or higher to get credit). Just something else to consider! For my daughter, personally, she decided that she really needed that structure/direction that MICA offered to help her succeed, but for other students, the flexibility might be better.

Oh, and I should add…there has also been much discussion about how SAIC is more about “conceptual” art. I’m not an artist myself and therefore not all that well-versed in how that translates into the college experience, but I do keep hearing it over and over again about SAIC.

SAIC is “conceptual” and process-focused, but the job placement rate was pretty good when we looked at it a few years ago. Also, the more open curriculum is a great option for those who need it, but many also opt for a pretty standard applied curriculum in their field of interest. Your advisor should be able to help you there.

My D just graduated from another art school but will be starting a full-time job in Chicago, where I imagine a lot of SAIC jobs are located. During her job search, she was never asked about her transcript, and she didn’t bother putting her GPA on her resume. All everyone seemed to care about was her portfolio and work experience. So receiving quality (letter) grades may not be so important on the job market, although I supposed at some point she might have to provide proof of degree or something. For grad school, letter grades DO tend to be important, and I understand in that case SAIC is able to produce a quality-grade transcript if needed.

Hmm interesting. All very good info that i will take into account, thank you! Also @OrangeBlossomMom if you don’t mind me asking, what major is your daughter in and does she like it at MICA?

She’s an Illustration major, but last year was foundation year, so she was only able to take one Illustration class (which, of course, was her favorite class BY FAR!). There are many things about MICA that she loves so far, and some things about it that are frustrating (for example, getting any sort of helpful advisement appears to be next to impossible–at least, for her it’s been next to impossible). Her other big complaint is the food, which she thinks is pretty awful. Otherwise, the only negatives have had to do with her fellow students/a difficult roommate/things like that. Any specific questions, feel free to ask and I will ask her!

first congratulations on getting into and choosing VCUARTS! it is one of the BEST design schools in the country period! D is a GD major and has been having an incredible experience , now entering senior year. has great internships in NYC, sold much freelance, published twice now, on and on. You have a lot to look forward to . D has accomplished more than any of her friends attending elsewhere (just a fact).

^ Um, OP was referring to fit and finances, not concerns over the quality of students or instruction at VCUArts. Also, did OP end up choosing VCUArts after all? Is that posted somewhere?

Lol i haven’t chosen vcuarts, but i have decided to consider it again. I’ll be visiting saic with my mom tomorrow and then I’ll hopefully decide this week! Thank you to everyone who contributed to this convo and gave me more insight into these schools :slight_smile:

I haven’t committed to any school yet but that’s good to know! If i did end up going to VCU i would most likely pick up GD as a double major

^ map - let us know what you decide! Best of luck to you!

Thanks, will do!

So i visited SAIC and I really loved it! I definitely feel like they had the most to offer me when it came to curriculum and resources. I decided to defer for one year in order to apply for more outside scholarships and save up money.