Art school tuition the issue behind the ‘starving artist’


As Illinois State University students, we pay a relatively affordable tuition cost. Cited on the financial aid page, ISU “consistently ranks as one of the top 100 best values in public colleges,” according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Some of us may have chosen this institution based solely on its affordability compared to other schools. College is a financial commitment, and the incredibly prestigious schools (Ivy League universities, for example) are associated with monstrous tuition fees. We may have dreamed of attending one of these schools, but large tuition rates may have held us back from fulfilling that dream.

This is particularly true when it comes to those who want to attend a prestigious art school. Washington Post’s contributor Catherine Rampell released statistics she obtained using a tool from the Department of Education that compiles total costs of attendance for colleges all across the country. Contrary to popular belief, Ivy League schools do not top the list of most expensive schools; in fact, art schools occupy seven spots out of 10.

Why are art schools so expensive? Parents have been urging their kids for years to stray from majors in art because of the supposed lack of job opportunities. If this is the case, how are art schools justifying these massive tuition rates? The “starving artist” will never be able to conquer his/her debt.

According to Rampell, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is the most expensive four-year private, non-profit college in America (after grants are issued to students, the net cost is still estimated around $42,882).

This editorial board believes that there is no excuse that these colleges can conjure to validate these tuition rates. There is no reason for art schools to have such higher tuition than some of the most prestigious academic communities in the world.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy of MoneyWatch on also noticed this trend of ludicrously priced art school tuition in 2011. In an article she published on she described a statement she received from the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design; the statement tried to explain why art schools are so expensive. It read, “[art] schools offer low student-faculty ratios, students typically meet for twice the hours of general education courses and expensive special equipment is needed and the schools are located in higher cost cities.”

But are these really valid arguments? Lots of universities and colleges have state of the art equipment and extensive class hours, but they do not have to jack up the prices.

In addition, art degree importance has been lost in today’s corporate America. Art majors face a rough outlook for employment after graduation (Yahoo Finance once named theater arts the third worst degree to obtain in regards to job outlook), and the last thing art majors need is a mountain of debt to pay off.

If art schools continue this trend, their enrollment rates might suffer. Art is a highly competitive field, and Ivy League-esque tuitions are unfair to the students attending these schools.

No wonder we hear of the “starving artist.” He/she is starving because of loan payments.

2 Responses

  1. Ann

    The tuition is the first issue. The fact that we have a default reference to creative people as ‘starving artists.” That is the second issue.

  2. Tim

    The tuition does not cover most of the art supplies that our students need so add that to the high tuition costs. I do believe in this visual , digital world the job prospects are better for our creative students!


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