How to Afford Art School – 8 Tips to Get You Started

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Do you feel the call of art and design but don’t know how to afford it? There are numerous ways to go about attending an art or design school, both for-profit and non-profit, which are sure to satisfy your needs. So, if you’re wondering how to afford art school, read on to find the perfect solution for your specific situation.

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How to Afford Art School

Your best bet is to start with exploring your different options in depth before making any decisions.

Do your due diligence. 

So, first things first let’s explore what your options are.

1. Check Out Art Grants and Fellowships

There are many grants and scholarships available for students who are interested in or studying the arts, especially for those attending art school.

One of the most well-known programs is the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) which offers art fellowships, ArtStart research grants, creative placements awards, and more.

Another popular program is the Fulbright U.S. Student Program which provides opportunities for international students who are currently pursuing their Bachelor’s degrees to study abroad in a variety of disciplines including Visual Arts and Design.

If you google available art grants and fellowships you will find plenty.

Also, be sure to ask the school you are interested in attending what grants and fellowships they offer.

When I went to graduate school for writing, I received a recruitment fellowship, so they are out there.

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2. Sell Your Artwork to Make Money for School

Selling your artwork is a great way to raise money for art school; however, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

If you have an established gallery or dealer, that’s great; but if you don’t or if you want to try something new, there are other ways of selling your art.

One of the most popular platforms for selling art is Etsy where artists and craftspeople can sell their handmade arts and crafts in one place.

I’ve sold paintings on Etsy myself.

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3. Use Kickstarter to Raise Money for School

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform where artists, designers, and other creative professionals can raise funds for their various projects.

The site has proven to be especially popular for students attending art school or design programs as they can turn to their family, friends, and fans for financial support in order to complete their degree.

One example of this can be seen in the Kickstarter program launched by Sarah Marie Peters and Esteban Garcia who are raising funds to develop their comic book series which “follows the story of a group of characters that have picked up and left the comforts of everyday human existence to explore life beyond the veil.”

4. Apply for  Scholarships

There are numerous scholarships available to students interested in pursuing design or art programs.

One of the most sought-after awards for aspiring designers is the James Dyson Foundation International Scholarship Award which offers up to five scholarships each year, as well as an international exhibition and a cash prize.

There is also the Design and Aesthetics Scholarships that offers $10,000 to students studying at institutions that have courses in interior design, industrial design, and architecture.

There are also several other scholarships featuring various topics within the arts including music composition, documentary filmmaking, and even filmmaking itself.

If you’re looking to further your studies in art or design it’s really worth it to check out what this scholarship has to offer!

You should also check to see if your school has scholarships as well.

They may come in the form of merit scholarships as well as need-based.

Just be sure to apply for art school scholarships early or you may miss out.

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5. Get a Job at a Museum to Pay for Your Art School

If you’re looking for a way to have some experience and exposure in the art world, one of the best ways to do it is by working as a paid intern for local museums or galleries.

Many of these organizations are looking for students pursuing degrees in design or art and will often hire them as interns.

Networking is always a great way to find people who might want to help you pay for your education.

Working in the art world is one way to get to know the people who can help you the most.

Alternatively, you can also look into volunteering at a local museum or gallery.

It won’t pay you anything, but the experience and networking opportunities can help.

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6. Enroll in Visual Arts and Design Courses Online

If you’re unable to get into a more traditional design school or you simply don’t have the time to attend classrooms, consider learning through an online program.

There are many options available that cover all subjects in the visual arts fields from film and video production, graphic design, illustration, even animation.

These programs tend to be less expensive as well.

Some of the best art schools for students working on a budget include the Academy of Art University which offers a wide range of degree programs through its School of Visual Arts.

The program also provides new students with a scholarship worth $1500 as well as other aid such as student loan opportunities.

You can also take art classes at your local community college as well. 

These classes may or may not transfer to an art school, but they will get you started.

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7. Take Out Loans

This is far from the most ideal option but if you come from a family with few resources or your financial aid packages don’t quite cover the tuition, consider taking out small loans to pay for art school.

When looking into loans make sure to exhaust federal aid options before looking into private loans.

Just keep in mind that you will have to pay these back.

It is tough to make a living selling your artwork, and it will be even more difficult if you have a lot of student loans, so proceed with caution if you decide to go this direction.

You might also enjoy:

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8. Work Part-Time

Yes, you will be busy while in school, but consider getting a part-time job.

This should, at the very least, pay for all your art supplies and make going a bit more affordable.

You might also enjoy:

How to Afford College without Your Parent’s Help

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To Sum it Up:

Going to art school is wonderful. You can immerse yourself in something you are passionate about. If you take advantage of available scholarships and grants it can even be affordable. 


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