There is no question to be had in 2014 – getting a great college music education can be exceptionally pricy.
With some college’s yearly tuitions rising over $40,000, the price of sending one student to college per year can be the equivalent of doling out what could be a decent salary for most people. Some of these numbers would be exceptionally handsome annual incomes for musicians.
But how expensive is getting a complete college music education, in exact dollar amounts?
Well, of course this will vary from school to school, as well as from individual to individual, and from location to location.
Some musicians’ complete education will consist of attending an in-state school for just an undergraduate degree, while other musicians’ total education will consist of getting a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate at top private music conservatories.
So without further ado, examining very realistic dollar amounts for tuition, fees, textbooks, and living expenses, let’s get into the real numbers behind a full college music education for music students.
After you see the numbers, you may think that I am not advocating going to a music college. This would not be a true assessment. I am simply here to tell families what the real cost of going to a college music education is – it is up to you to decide whether the benefits outweigh the total monetary amounts described in this article.
After we go through the analysis and give a summary breakdown of the cost of a college music education, we will see if there are any practical solutions for cutting down those numbers so we can all save at least some money and headache.
All numbers given below are exact or calculated estimates derived from numbers provided by each school’s website. Obviously, the true amount will vary from student to student depending on a number of factors – that said, I would say that in the absence of merit-based financial aid as well as any grants, all of the following numbers are probably accurate to a 10% deviation or even lower than the real cost. I don’t factor the the prices of tuition and living expenses increasing every year.
Sources for the numbers used are given at the end of the article.
Undergraduate Public School Degrees (In-State)
We’ll start with those who just want to have an undergraduate degree at a state school in which they qualify as residents. As we all know, attending a state school in which you are qualified as a resident will mean you pay less tuition than those coming from out of state.
There are a number of quality music schools that are housed in state-sponsored public universities, including the University of Michigan, the University of North Texas, Florida State University, and Indiana University.
So if you are only pursuing an undergraduate degree and are in-state at one of these schools, here are the tuition & fee numbers for the 2014-2015 school year (not including cost of textbooks & living expenses).
[table id=1 /]
So this actually doesn’t seem too bad, right? Sure, IU and UMich are a little pricy, but this seems pretty good actually.
Until you think about it just a little bit more.
I once read in a pamphlet issued by Boston University (I wish I could find a link, but this was on paper eight years ago) that tuition is, roughly, only 55% of the total costs of a student’s education. Considering the cost of tuition at a place like UNT, this logic would read that the total cost – including living expenses and books – per year at UNT would be around $9,000. For Indiana, the total cost should be around $18,000-$19,000.
Things are getting a little shaky, but are these the realistic dollar amounts per year?
According to the Indiana University website, with room & board, books & supplies, transportation, and even personal expenses, the total estimated cost for one in-state student’s education is $24,418 per year (4).
At a state school like Indiana, tuition is only approximately 40% of the total cost per year for in-state students. Damn!
Also, they budget total personal expenses outside of room & board and transportation at an arbitrary $2,106, which seems pretty low to me for most students living 9 months on or near campus (less than $235/month), but ok, Bloomington is relatively inexpensive, we’ll go with it.
So for a total four-year education while being an in-state resident at a quality state-sponsored music program INCLUDING tuition, fees, room & board, and living expenses, we have the following numbers for those same four schools.
[table id=2 /]
One cannot help but wonder how most young and budding musicians would be able to come up with $111,336 to pay for a college degree in music. Now we’re starting to see why people talk about college being so expensive.
But in reality, we’ve only just begun this investigation.
Keep in mind that the real figures would actually be higher than the ones above since my equation only factors 2014-2015 costs provided by each school’s website multiplied by four years – this equation does not factor tuition increases. Tuition increases every single year are typically around 3-4%.
So, now let’s look at the cost of leading music programs that are not available at in-state tuition prices…