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MFA 2021: Funding and Decisions


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ITT we discuss offers for funding we get from programs, weigh our decisions, and give helpful advice, leaving a record for future applicants to check out. This hasn't been done since the 2015 thread, and things have likely changed a lot since then.

Future people: If the program you are trying to learn about is not mentioned, try out the 2015 thread: https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/63611-mfa-arts-2015-funding-and-decisions/

Edited by joeyjoejoeshabbadoo
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I'm wondering mostly about the process of taking out loans.  I'm heavily leaning towards going to Goldsmiths which means loans for the first time.  I know they accept FASFA, but I don't actually know what I'll get from FASFA yet.  How does this process work?  There is also a limit for graduate students taking out FASFA of like 20,000 something.  How does that work? I'll need more than that I think.  Goldsmiths is like half the sticker price of similar American universities; 32,000 vs 68,000 (SAIC).  So, surely people take out more loans than 20,000?  Sorry if all of these questions are really dumb.  I just want to know that I can actually get loans before accepting the offer!

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2 hours ago, Scrambledmegs said:

I'm wondering mostly about the process of taking out loans.  I'm heavily leaning towards going to Goldsmiths which means loans for the first time.  I know they accept FASFA, but I don't actually know what I'll get from FASFA yet.  How does this process work?  There is also a limit for graduate students taking out FASFA of like 20,000 something.  How does that work? I'll need more than that I think.  Goldsmiths is like half the sticker price of similar American universities; 32,000 vs 68,000 (SAIC).  So, surely people take out more loans than 20,000?  Sorry if all of these questions are really dumb.  I just want to know that I can actually get loans before accepting the offer!

I know that I ended up taking a lot of private loans in addition to public govt. loans when I did my MPH degree back at Yale.

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7 hours ago, Scrambledmegs said:

I'm wondering mostly about the process of taking out loans.  I'm heavily leaning towards going to Goldsmiths which means loans for the first time.  I know they accept FASFA, but I don't actually know what I'll get from FASFA yet.  How does this process work?  There is also a limit for graduate students taking out FASFA of like 20,000 something.  How does that work? I'll need more than that I think.  Goldsmiths is like half the sticker price of similar American universities; 32,000 vs 68,000 (SAIC).  So, surely people take out more loans than 20,000?  Sorry if all of these questions are really dumb.  I just want to know that I can actually get loans before accepting the offer!

You will receive an estimate of how much loan you are eligible once you complete the fafsa form. https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa I submitted mine last month and the amount of loans are different for different programs. Say for SAIC I'm eligible for 20k federal loan and 20k private loan (higher interest rate, at 5.2%), then work study is about 8k. Also, If you ended up needing more loan you can work with the program's administration office to work out the exact amount.

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2 hours ago, Maldoror said:

You will receive an estimate of how much loan you are eligible once you complete the fafsa form. https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa I submitted mine last month and the amount of loans are different for different programs. Say for SAIC I'm eligible for 20k federal loan and 20k private loan (higher interest rate, at 5.2%), then work study is about 8k. Also, If you ended up needing more loan you can work with the program's administration office to work out the exact amount.

Oh I’ve completed my fasfa. I just don’t know how to get my loan amount from the school. They haven’t told me. Do I need to accept the offer for them to tell me?

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4 minutes ago, Scrambledmegs said:

Oh I’ve completed my fasfa. I just don’t know how to get my loan amount from the school. They haven’t told me. Do I need to accept the offer for them to tell me?

Have you actived your student ID? You'll be able to check financial aid status on the student portal once it's processed. 

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I am trying to decide between fully funded + stipend programs in smaller (relative to the third program) cities, compared to one I would have to go in debt for, that is situated in a larger city. Does anyone know how much the city you are in for an MFA matters, or are people just too busy in their academics/campus bubble to really build networks beyond their program?

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18 hours ago, Purplepinkey said:

I am trying to decide between fully funded + stipend programs in smaller (relative to the third program) cities, compared to one I would have to go in debt for, that is situated in a larger city. Does anyone know how much the city you are in for an MFA matters, or are people just too busy in their academics/campus bubble to really build networks beyond their program?

Geography, in my experience, is a HUGE fraction of what comprises your art networks during the MFA program and beyond.

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22 hours ago, SocialKonstruct said:

Geography, in my experience, is a HUGE fraction of what comprises your art networks during the MFA program and beyond.

Thanks! Feeling torn about the "monetary value" of having those networking opportunities in bigger cities vs. seeing the MFA experience as more of an insular experience to refine and polish work in smaller city with more financial support. 

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Recently got into my dream school in DC for an MFA, with an offer of tuition remission around $26,000. It's a private school, I'm out of state, but I love the program and opportunities. DC is my dream city, I did my undergrad in political science, and I feel like the value in the connections and location post-grad could be amazing. I also got accepted into a fully funded program in my home state, though the program is probably less ranked (not that I really care), I know an MFA can be whatever you make out of it but it's a risky degree. I'm grateful for both options, but I'm having trouble making the decision that would probably lead to me saying no to my dream school. Is the debt worth it and are loans THAT scary? 

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Hey any thoughts/comments would be super appreciated! I got accepted into MFA Photo program 2021 at SAIC and CalArts. Does anyone have any impressions on either school in general or the photo program/faulty specifically? Anything is worth sharing. Just trying to cast a wide net of opinions/impressions. 

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NYU ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) or SAIC Art and Technology???

I know these two may seen very different but I’m a theater designer/multimedia artist working with creative technology, and my profile basically fit right in between these two programs. I've seen/met their alumni's work and they are both very compelling. 

By going to grad school I expect to have the resources and community that can not only support me conceptually but technologically.
I’m worried that ITP might lack conceptual training and its a big class for very little physical space (no studio), but their student body has more diverse background which can benefit my future collaboration. I’m also worried that SAIC will limit my career in Chicago after graduation and I’m not sure that’s the city I see myself living forever, but their class size is much smaller, and with an MFA instead of MPS might take me farer in the art world.

ITP offered me 60% scholarship, while SAIC offered me 0 initially and then 35% need-based grant after I asked. I know it's not fair to compare like this but I can't help but think whether one values me more than the other...

Are my worries legit? Which school/program has a bigger potential for me? and what’s the general vibes of Chicago or New York for emerging artists, especially women of color? I lived and worked in Los Angeles so have no first-hand experience with either city.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

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16 hours ago, maydaypu said:

NYU ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) or SAIC Art and Technology???

I know these two may seen very different but I’m a theater designer/multimedia artist working with creative technology, and my profile basically fit right in between these two programs. I've seen/met their alumni's work and they are both very compelling. 

By going to grad school I expect to have the resources and community that can not only support me conceptually but technologically.
I’m worried that ITP might lack conceptual training and its a big class for very little physical space (no studio), but their student body has more diverse background which can benefit my future collaboration. I’m also worried that SAIC will limit my career in Chicago after graduation and I’m not sure that’s the city I see myself living forever, but their class size is much smaller, and with an MFA instead of MPS might take me farer in the art world.

ITP offered me 60% scholarship, while SAIC offered me 0 initially and then 35% need-based grant after I asked. I know it's not fair to compare like this but I can't help but think whether one values me more than the other...

Are my worries legit? Which school/program has a bigger potential for me? and what’s the general vibes of Chicago or New York for emerging artists, especially women of color? I lived and worked in Los Angeles so have no first-hand experience with either city.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

I went to SAIC for my bfa and I would strongly suggest you to go to NYU ITP program. Not only just because they give you more money but also you can learn more technical skills. Also NYC is so much better than Chicago in all aspect. I hope this helps. 

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On 3/22/2021 at 12:11 PM, justaperson said:

Hey any thoughts/comments would be super appreciated! I got accepted into MFA Photo program 2021 at SAIC and CalArts. Does anyone have any impressions on either school in general or the photo program/faulty specifically? Anything is worth sharing. Just trying to cast a wide net of opinions/impressions. 

I went to CalArts for my BFA. CalArts is big on interdisciplinary collaboration where you can always find cool people to work with. I had a friend in photo and his thesis was really interesting and beyond my expectation for a photography project. The geography, however, is not very ideal if you want to be fully immersed in the city since the campus is isolated in this conservative neighborhood in a valley like 50 mins north of Downtown LA. But sometimes that's what makes the school community really tight. I enjoyed networking with radical artists everyday in a relatively safe space but I do wish I had easier access to what LA art scene has to offer.

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18 hours ago, maydaypu said:

ITP offered me 60% scholarship, while SAIC offered me 0 initially and then 35% need-based grant after I asked. I know it's not fair to compare like this but I can't help but think whether one values me more than the other...

Are my worries legit? Which school/program has a bigger potential for me? and what’s the general vibes of Chicago or New York for emerging artists, especially women of color? I lived and worked in Los Angeles so have no first-hand experience with either city.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Funding is not necessarily about valuing the students. Some schools simply have more money to give. Some schools need to give more money to get people to apply. Etc.

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11 hours ago, linlinlin said:

I went to SAIC for my bfa and I would strongly suggest you to go to NYU ITP program. Not only just because they give you more money but also you can learn more technical skills. Also NYC is so much better than Chicago in all aspect. I hope this helps. 

Yes! I really don't know anyone from SAIC or not many from Chicago in general whereas I have many connects in New York and they all want me there. So it's helpful to see your words. Thank you.

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8 hours ago, SpillToBuilt said:

Funding is not necessarily about valuing the students. Some schools simply have more money to give. Some schools need to give more money to get people to apply. Etc.

Yeah you're right. It's really not fair to think like that. From poking around on the internet/taking to alumni I do hear how much funding admitted students are getting from either program. It's clearly one school is giving me much more than the average, and the other one much less. Anyway, it's pointless to guess what goes behind the door at this point.

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