This Is the Real Cost of Getting a College Music Education

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 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.

Undergraduate Public School Degrees (In-State)

Florida State University photo
FSU: Photo by J-a-x

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, tuition & fees can often be less than $20,000.00 per year. Although a lot of money, this is manageable as far as college costs go.


Some schools are a little more expensive…

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%


  1. Dad October 12, 2014
  2. Dad October 12, 2014
  3. Benjamin Pesetsky January 10, 2015
  4. $chubert June 14, 2015
  5. Chris July 25, 2015
  6. Jeanne October 28, 2015
  7. Stacey November 3, 2015
  8. Bob Derr April 16, 2016
  9. Prakhar Kaushik September 19, 2016
    • H. Worsey April 6, 2017

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