As a general rule, online education is more affordable than attending a traditional college or university. Tuition is commonly less but also, money is saved on transportation and gas, not to mention less wear and tear on your personal vehicle. In addition, by not attending class in person, added clothing expense is eliminated. Although a cost-efficient solution, you will still need to determine how to pay for your online music school studies.
The good news is that you have several viable options. For instance, you can go through financial aid, apply for scholarships, or consider a number of other special programs designed to reduce cost. Remember, online educational institutions are designed so people can get a higher education, people who might otherwise never attend college. For this reason, most schools have a variety of financial solutions or at minimum, caring faculty who will assist in any way possible.
Government Financial Aid
There are many different financial aid programs offered by the United States Government. Although the amount of aid being awarded in 2013 is less than what students received in 2012, it is still money that will allow you to pursue your dream of a higher education in music.
The process of applying for and receiving financial aid is quite different for graduate versus undergraduate studies. However, for both levels of education you are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. Please note that as a graduate or professional student, you are considered independent. As a result, only income and assets are used to determine financial need. With this form completed, you might be eligible to receive financial aid through one of the programs mentioned below.
Federal Pell Grant – The great thing about this grans is that you are not required to repay the money. Of course, you must meet all qualifying criteria and average payout is just over $5,000 a year but every dollar counts toward an education in music.
Federal Perkins Loan – This type of loan is given to colleges and universities opposed to students. The money is then distributed to students who can show the need for financial assistance. The average amount of loan is $8,000, which includes 5% interest.
Federal Stafford Loans – As part of this loan is the Stafford Loan and the PLUS loan. This is a long-term and low-interest loan offered to help with the financial burden of education. To quality, you must be a United States citizen, national, or eligible non-citizen and be enrolled at least 50% of the time in a degree-granting program offered through an approved educational institution.
Federal Work-Study Program – If you work part-time but also attend college, this might be worth consideration. Keep in mind, this particular program encourages you to work in the same field you are studying, which in this case would be music.
PLUS Loans – This loan provides graduate and professional students with money that is equal to the difference between the cost of education and financial aid received. In addition to fixed interest of 7.9%, a 4% loan fee is deducted from each check.
TEACH Grant Program – In learning how to pay for your online music school studies, this program is something to consider if you plan to go into teaching. The award pays a minimum of $4,000 and a maximum of $8,000 a year. One of the qualifiers is that you will need to maintain a 3.25 GPA for every payment period and be teaching full-time for a minimum of four years within eight years of graduating.
In addition to the financial aid options listed above, there are opportunities if you volunteer with AmeriCorps or have served in any branch of the United States Military.
Most people have no idea how much money is available through scholarship programs or the vast options available. In truth, there are thousands of scholarships, some common and some uncommon. You will even discover some scholarships considered “bizarre”. Regardless of who offers the money, if you qualify it will help reduce the cost of going to school to earn a degree in music. Below are just a few examples of places to find out about specific scholarships in your area.
- The Federal Government's free College Scholarship Search Tool - search from various career paths or limit the search to individual states.
- School Connection Scholarship Search - An easy to use search tool for finding funding opportunities in your major. Unfortunately does not provide any info until you provide an email address.
Your local school counselors- Your school counselor or guidance office most likely has a complete list of all of the local and regional scholarships that you might be able to apply for.
School Funding Awards
Interestingly, there is no application process for a large number of school-based awards since the determining factor is merit alone. Keep in mind that school money for graduate music programs are decentralized, meaning each department has a different application and approval process. While it will require time and effort, the most money available through school awards can be identified by contacting each department individually.
With that done, you will learn the exact application process, which increases the odds of getting the funding needed. Following are some of the other things that will help you succeed in getting school award money.
Do Not Procrastinate – Each college and university has established deadlines for application so it is imperative that you turn in all the required paperwork as quickly as possible.
Fields of Music – Another tip on how to pay for your online music school studies is to choose an educational institution that offers the exact program wanted. For instance, if you want to pursue a Master of Music in Therapy, focus on schools with that specific program. The reason is that these schools typically get research grants, which means money for you.
Corporations – You can find out where research money goes by contacting larger corporations and asking which educational institutions they support.