Financial Aid for Photography School

by Julia Bourque
Financial Aid for Photography School

When searching for a school of photography or a state school which offers a photography program, tuitions and fees can pile up. A school's sticker price can be thousands of dollars, and then students still have to consider the cost of film, a camera and print paper, to name only a few of the added costs photography students will encounter.

Though the costs may be intimidating, there are several types of scholarships, grants and loans available for these students.

In addition to the federal and state aid, loans and grants, art schools all across the nation offer need- and merit- based scholarships.

Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Penn., offers the A.J. Drexel scholarship, which offers students awards from $5,000 to the elusive full ride coverage upon acceptance to the university.

The A.J. Drexel scholarship is based on a student's portfolio, says Tia McNair, assistant director of recruitment for the college of media arts and design at Drexel. "We look for students who reveal an interest in art and are well-rounded in extracurricular activities."

Searching out need and merit-based scholarships within the college of choice is important, but April Iorio, a financial aid counselor for Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Pa., says looking for outside scholarships, and looking for them early, is a must.

"Look for organizations your parents belong to, look in the local churches, high schools and your parents work," Iorio says. "I see students come in with a ton of outside scholarships all of the time."

While there is a lot of legwork involved in the application process, a commitment pays off. "Those students end up getting most of their education paid for this way," Iorio adds.

As mentioned before, there are many merit-based scholarships, but to receive those scholarships, an impressive portfolio is required.

"Applicants should prepare a portfolio with 12-20 pieces of original art completed in the past year," Iorio says. "The portfolios should contain what the students believe are their finest pieces."

Outside scholarships, because of the internet, have become extremely easy to find (if not win). Iorio recommends:

When checking these Web sites and their scholarships, pay strict attention to deadlines, Iorio advises.

"With both outside and university scholarships, check the deadlines, and make sure you apply early," she says. "You have a better chance at more funding the earlier you have everything filled out and sent it."

Though the field of photography may be an expensive field to pursue, both Iorio and McNair advise checking into each university's career center and placement services.

As much as students are geared toward getting into schools and gaining scholarships, they should also consider what the colleges can do for them, in both education and job placement.

Scholarship searching may be discouraging, but it's all about commitment and perseverance. "Do your research, and never throw in the towel on pursuing your dreams," McNair says. "In the end, college is about endurance and perseverance; scholarship hunting will prepare students for the forefront."

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