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Ameritech Financial on Student Loans and Graduate Degrees in Visual Arts

Friday, May 4, 2018




Source : Ameritech Financial

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Getting a graduate degree in the visual arts can be a big decision, one that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. But some visual artists might still want the dedicated studio time and a close community of fellow artists. However, many artists may need loans to fund their graduate degrees. Ameritech Financial, a document preparation company that helps student loan borrowers with applications for repayment programs, encourages borrowers of all kinds to explore their repayment choices.

"This kind of degree is tricky because it incorporates both education and development of artistic skill, so outcomes can vary wildly for students," said Tom Knickerbocker, executive vice president of Ameritech Financial. "Student loans can be a big factor in what happens after the program finishes."

Things might not always go as planned. For example, dozens of current graduate students in the visual arts MFA program at Columbia University have recently demanded a full tuition refund. This comes after they experienced chaos at their studios including flooding, freezing and boiling temperatures, and falling ceilings. Columbia's MFA is notably expensive at over $60,000 per academic year and lasts two years. So far, the school has not agreed to reimburse their tuition.

Funding for graduate degrees can come from a variety of places, but master's degrees can be difficult to fund with grant aid. Graduate students are allowed to borrow student loans from the Direct Loan Program of the Department of Education. Their options include Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS loans. Direct PLUS borrowers may have higher balances because students can borrow up to the full cost of attendance as determined by their institution. Along with tuition, cost of attendance can include housing, transportation and supplies.

Students with large student loan balances may need options for repayment after they've left school. Income-driven repayment plans offer a repayment pathway that bases monthly payments on income and family size. These plans require an initial application and yearly recertification to stay enrolled. Borrowers can apply and recertify by themselves, but for former students who need extra assistance in this area, Ameritech Financial provides support and guidance in exchange for a fee for its services. A private, independent company, Ameritech Financial offers clients with a financial analysis and document preparation services for applications and recertifications of income-driven plans.

"Ameritech Financial can be a guide and an assistant to borrowers who are unsure of how to approach repayment plans," said Knickerbocker. "By helping with the application process, we aim to help borrowers get into the most affordable, most suitable plan they can have."

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