What can I do when I can't afford the tuition?

First, why is most of the outstanding Art schools are so damn expensive? My dream is to become a furniture maker and i have done about 4 years of apparenticeship for free with a woodworker in Japanese style/Green & Green type of furniture. At the same i had work at night to make living, now i want learn how to work with metal and other materials and tought it would be best for me to go to Art school like Art Center College of Design and also earn a degree. But, I can’t afford the the tuition and be a full time student and part time worker. Is there any other alternatives or cheaper art schools out there?

Kendall in Michigan?

That’s why we all took out loans for school.

outstanding portfolio=scholarship…sometimes. remember, some of the most expensive schools also have the deepest pockets and if you beg, you might get a little chunk. then take out loans, loans and more loans.

my friend is applying to the furniture grad program at u mass dartmouth. they might not have the prestige of risd (nearby) but as a resident of ri, he can get the in state tuition price of mass residents. plus the fact that they are practically courting him because of his portfolio and background as a designer. he will make the most out of his time there and not have pay for it until he’s 60 with student loans.

Having gone to a NAME art school, let me tell you, they can be pretty over rated.

In your situation, you allready have a lot of skills from your prior experience. You need a place with good facilities so that you can expierament for four years, learn some new skills, and come out with a degreee. I would recomend some of the smaller private Art Schools, and possibly some public universities.

Unfortunately this school only has wood facilities, but something along these lines perhaps:


This one might be good as well, and they have some metal working facilities:

funituremaker- big question-- do you see yourself as a designer or a craftsperson? (or a mix in between?) You have a good story to start- that will help.

My suggestion is to look at both design and art schools. There is a lot of money (grants and loans) out there, its just a matter of doing the legwork.
One thing about an art school is that the sculpture departments aren’t afraid of anything- if you want to build it you most likely will be able to.

Another option is to go after a Fullbright and study overseas. Nordic countries (Findland, Sweden, Iceland etc) have a rich tradition of furniture and don’t get 1000 applicants like Italy and France does.

Good Luck-

Most people cannot afford full tuition at a private school – AND MOST PEOPLE GET FINANCIAL AID and/or merit scholorships. Do not make a decision about which school to attend based on what the tuition is. You will not know how much the actually costs until you get your fincial aid offer. It is important to apply to more than one because one may come through with much more money than another.

It all may look impossible on paper now, but like I said you don’t know until you get your fin. aid info.


I came from a family who frequently ate dirt for breakfast and i went to a “big name” school

i didn’t even have good highschool transcripts

I went to a community college to get all the liberal arts classes out of the way, which took a whole year off the time i needed to be at the big boy school, and also enabled me to focus all my energy on design related classes once i got there. Basically i paid less than $4,000 to take all those liberal arts classes that would have cost a ton more at a “name” school

Once i got to the big boy school, i took out loans, busted my ass to get scolarships and even did work study.

After all was said and done my total debt was at a little less than 2 full years at “sticker price” tuition.

plus when YOU actually pay for your own way through school i guarantee you will appreciate it a lot more than if someone else was footing the bill.

I strongly agree with above.
Take loans and working for side jobs will pay the tuitions.
Internship is important for the future, but for this situation, getting some cash for books and art supplies are very important.
I had been working for 25 hours every Thursdays and Fridays right after the classes were over during my first year. For my second year, I am doing everything that I can such as weekend waiter position, side graphic design jobs, eating affortable food, commute from home and less going out with party people. As result, I do feel thankful that I am studying something I really love.

Sub 30k single income family, no car, no home ownership, 1 of 3 kids going to one of the most expensive private art schools. Excellent high school records and good entry portfolio.

-Reading the info on financial aid it seemed to say that it’s based off of your family’s ability to pay once you’re accepted (based on their calculated formula of income, household size, etc), so in theory you’d be able to attend no matter what your income status.
-Lots of people try to avoid the loans and complain about not getting enough aid but when they figure your financial package, they assume that you’re taking out the max amount. I had those but still ended up having to max out a few credit cards to pay for the rest + supplies, etc.

-They’re really strict with the awards calculations. I’ve heard people complaining they didn’t get enough when they’re family owns a house, has other members (grandparents, etc) that do have money, etc. So they didn’t get enough that would still allow them to live the lifestyle they’re used to. If you own a car, house, property, stocks, etc, it’s all considered as money your family has to pay for your college when they figure your award package, so you have to sacrifice to go. If your family owns cars, home, etc, don’t expect much aid, they look at total wealth.

Even after getting in though, I still had to work 4 part time work-study jobs to pay for supplies, etc. Doesn’t leave you much time for school or sleep but you gotta do whatcha gotta. It’s a big challenge paying for school if you’re broke, but consider it your first test to see if you’re willing to do what it takes to follow your path. I can’t tell you how many girls from school worked at the local “dancing” clubs to pay for school, though I don’t officially recommend that.

Good luck to you.

Something was posted earlier about going to a Nordic school, as they don’t get many aplicants. Hmm…maybe not as many as one of the uber-huge US schools, but there is a catch here. If you are studying in Sweden(and other Nordic countries, I believe) and you have a valid European Union passport, there is no tuition fees. I’m Canadian, but my dad was born in England, so I’ve always had a UK passport…never really had much use for it until a friend (from Sweden) told me about the tuition situation.

Since the school are are largely state funded (wicked-high taxes here) there isn’t the same ‘holy crap I need to sell crack and my own ass to pay for my tuition’ type of panic here. But as a result, people don’t get scared off by the ‘big ticket’ school tuitions. So there are bajillions of applicants for all the programs.

It reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaally is nice to not have the school trying to milk every cent out of you! So anyone with parents born in Europe should really look into this!

Besides, I don’t know of anyone that would pay me to ‘dance’ for money

ok, my dad was born in romania. i don’t even think that’s an eu country…
but would that make it easier/cheaper for me to study in europe?? i am a jeweler but want to learn furniture-making… dream about barcelona and the netherlands…

The North Bennett Street School in Boston is a great place to learn about the historical craft of furniture-making. I’m not sure it’s accredited. It’s not a college, more like a very high-end trade school. But, if you’re serious about furniture design, you might want to research this place.

Check out this thread about furniture programs:

Don’t rule out various financial aid options. Sure, school is expensive, but you may be surprised at how much aid they give you. Also, you can apply for outside scholarships, and there are always loans as well.