How much do you know about the proposed Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012? How much do you care? If you’re thinking about taking (or have already) out government-based loans to pay for music school, you need to pay attention.
Our purpose is not to convince you one way or another about the proposed act. It’s sufficient to say that it is controversial, and that it will not evaporate all the problems of skyrocketing tuition and mounting student loan debt. But something needs to be done. Whether you get a symphony job, create your own music business, teach, or work in music industry (or in any other field for that matter), paying back student loans is a daunting task.
1. There are ways to educate yourself about this. For starters, US News and World Report recently posted an article, “Learn What the Student Loan Forgiveness Act Could Mean for You.” It’s written by Equal Justice Works, a national non-profit founded by law students in the mid-80’s that advocates for reducing the burden of educational debt for current students as well as those who’ve already graduated.
You might also want to visit FinAid’s page on Loan Forgiveness learn about existing ways of lowering student debt through joining the Peace Corps, military service, or teaching and practicing medicine in underserved communities.
2. Some hardcore introspection is necessary. What will it cost you to go to the school of your choice if they accept you? What kind of loan debt will it leave you with? How will you pay that debt off, even if the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012 (or a subsequent one) passes? And how will student loans facilitate as well as inhibit your career goals?
3. There are no guarantees or black and white solutions to this conundrum. Some college advisors advocate for paying what you can afford. In lieu of excessive student loans, they encourage you to attend state schools with lower in-state tuition plans or community colleges for the first year or two, to allow you to take lessons with great private teachers while stockpiling tuition dollars for the future.
Transferring, after a year or two, to a more competitive school will then become a less expensive option. There are others who will tell you to follow your passion, take out those loans if they’re the only way to finance your education, and trust that the money will follow.
4. Be wary of anyone who tries to convince you they know what’s best for you. Ultimately you will have to live with your choices, so you need to proceed in a way that feels right and will let you sleep at night. Talk with your family. Take a look at College Confidential’s thread, “Student Loans Surpass Auto, Credit Card Debt.”
Then talk with current students and recent grads. Find out what they did and whether they’re happy with their choices.
By making an informed decision about your own path to financing college, you won’t end up shocked or disappointed as you go forward. In the meantime, pay attention to what happens with the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012.