Tough Financial Decision

I was recently accepted to both RIT (with their $6000 transfer scholarship) and the University of Cincinnati (still no word on finaid) for industrial design. These are the two schools I would prefer attending. I have until the 5/29 and 5/28 to decide for both schools.

The hard part is this:

I am seriously considering declining both offers at admission for a year because at my current university, I have recently been offered a residence adviser position (free room, free meals + a hefty stipend).

The offer is very tempting since for my freshman year alone I have already had to take $5500 in Stafford loans and $7500 from another bank to afford my schooling (out of pressure from my parents to attend state flagship). I figure that if I stay in my current school, I will be able to bring down the private loan to about $1500 or even pay it all off.

If you were in my position would you stay and then transfer, or transfer immediately?

How do you pay for it? I guess my biggest worry is that what if on my second year of industrial design, I get rejected by all banks for student loans because my parents aren’t/won’t cosign.

Which school are you currently at?

Re the loans, I would take a look at what kind of payments you’ll be looking at once you graduate. I had about $17k total, and it costs me about $165 a month to service - I’m within $3k of being paid off. I know other designers that financed $60k or more and they pay $600 - $900 a month. Will your current school prevent you from getting a paying design job, and if not, will the schools you would like to attend result in you earning an additional $7k to $12k per year in disposable income once you find a position?

I currently attend a public state school (which is primarily a research campus). Unfortunately, this school does not have a design program, just architecture (I’ve taken two classes from their department to find out if I will like it, to no avail). Currently, I am studying art.

As for your latter question, I do not know if the schools would like to attend will help me earn an extra $7-12k but I presume it would improve my chances of getting an industrial design job than staying.

One thing I’ve always kinda gone by during school. Is that 30 years from now you wont remember that 500 plane ticket to visit a school. Or that extra 800 you paid for rent. Or in your case the extra 5,000 for room and board. But you will remember what job you did for the 30 years after graduation. So getting on course to do what you want with your life is much more beneficial in the long run.

Also sometime to consider is UC’s co-op program. You’ll be alternating between school and co-op after your first year. If you are smart with spending you can finance a large portion of your tuition with the money made while interning. I’ve been able to keep my student loans down to almost nothing, by just using what I made on internship and applying that to my tuition.

I would really love to attend UC (because of co-op) but still haven’t heard from finaid. RIT’s finaid package on the other hand is very generous (just received the complete aid packet in the mail today). Their total aid award is $31,900 (this includes unsub and sub stafford) so I will be paying ~$13000-14000 a year.

If finances are tight, you might want to consider moving to another state with a decent ID program, like UW Stout Wisconsin (as an example). Find some roommates on Craigslist, live and work there for a year or so to establish residency, then enroll as an in-state student. My guess is by doing that you’d significantly reduce your need to take on additional loans (which are usually unforgiveable debt) and save yourself a ton of financial anxiety while in school, plus you might even save some money the year you establish residency. By the way, don’t lump loans into financial aid, even if the schools refer to them as aid - that’s an easy way to dig yourself into a deep financial hole. Real financial aid is the free money. Remember, one of the most important skills you need to develop as a designer is making tradeoffs based on the hours and budget available. This is a design problem, so use your ingenuity. Anyone can take out loans and be education-poor.

RIT’s package without unsub/sub is $26,000 (grants/scholarships).

How does this sound?

  • Stay one more year here in my current school, pay off as much of the loans I have as I can. Take GenEd and drawing classes at current school.
  • Move to Ohio (hoping to attend Ohio State, maybe) for one year, work and go to local CC (maybe?) then transfer into OSU. Or maybe even use the Cincy State → UC backdoor.

Or is it just a better plan for me to move to a different state immediately.

Oh, also at my current school, in the upcoming schoolyear, I am going to be working at the art museum for about 20-30 hours a week at $7.50 an hour in addition to becoming an RA.

RIT is a respectable program, I know one of the faculty, it’s easily on par with OSU.
And there’s no rule saying you can’t take two internships to help pay for school.
As opposed to spending a year living in Ohio taking part time credits wich are unlikely to transfer, just go to school full time. it’s the next 6 years either way.

Thanks for everyone’s responses. It really helps me put things into perspective. I’m still waiting on financial aid from UC, hoping on at least some form of grant/loans. Right now, I’m thinking of taking up website coding again to help with my expenses (ditched it when I came to college).

Do independent design firms hire from RIT? I would eventually want to work at Smart (huge dreams haha, I know).
I’d just like to know how it fares compared to UC. As I’ve read from the Virgina Tech vs University of Cincinnati thread, it seems that UC attracts more global independent firms.