How are you paying for Grad Film School? (1 Viewer)

Hey. I recently got accepted to AFI and am nervous as to how I'm going to pay for it. I would like to ask film school alums how they paid for school or ways to diminish the costs? This can go for recent grad school students or those that got accepted. Thanks.
 

Jayimess

Well-Known Member
USC MFA, awarded May 2010...my funding was derived from the following sources:

Loans.
Merit Scholarships.
Need Scholarships.
Teaching Assistantships.
My Student Job That Paid More Than PA Work.
Actual PA Work In The Summers (all secured via referrals from USC, internships, or my undergraduate connections).

In that order.


AFI in particular is very expensive just for their tuition, which is more than tuition AND living costs at USC combined, especially once you get into thesis year and are funding a major film. One of my closest friends from undergrad, and my former roommate, just finished her MFA over at AFI in June 2010, and we commiserate about our debt often.

We also agree it was worth every effing penny.

For years, we lived for film and television: she in AFI's editing program from 2008-2010, me in USC's writing program from 2007-2010. When I decided to go, I thought it was worth the money to live my dream, if only for a short time and in a surreal, educational environment, even if I failed miserably...but honestly, and a little surprisingly, I'm really enjoying life after film school, though it has its challenges. We were semi-immune to the recession, thanks to Sallie Mae, and I have to say, it was quite a shocker returning to the workforce.

The best survival advice I ever got came from the late great Sally Menke: "LOWER YOUR OVERHEAD." Get the lowest monthly recurring costs for yourself so you can spend your money on three things: on being social...it's a real part of LA/the industry, on good food...there's tons of it here, and you should not starve yourself, and, of course, on your projects. You should also be saving for after you graduate to make that loan money last as long as possible.

When you're not beholden to ridiculous monthly expenses you can survive on the no/low-paying jobs that present themselves after you graduate, if, like most folks, you don't sell a script or sign a hefty overall deal before you turn in your cap and gown on graduation day. I had various interviews lined up before I graduated, but I got a non-industry job for stability. I'm no longer dependent upon it, but I keep it because I'm spending thousands on my best friend's wedding this spring.

TV in particular is very low-paying when you first start out, though it's not too far to rise before you start pulling in major money. I've made a better day rate as a set PA on low-budget films than as a set PA on network shows, but at least with episodic TV you have consistency of employment rather than 13 days here, 6 days there.

Office PAs and Writer's Room PAs get basically the same deal. So after you free yourself from Sallie Mae's loving and evil habit of dropping tons of cash in your lap every semester, it's going to be a sharp change. You can ease your transition if you're not scraping up fifteen hundo for your rent every month...and the less you worry about money, the more your mind can focus on the work.

I currently work in feature development, and the money is much better than PA work, so I was able to afford to spend the last few months working on a passion project without fretting about the roof over my head!


Hope that helps.
 

Generallyspeaking22

Well-Known Member
Originally posted by Jayimess:
USC MFA, awarded May 2010...my funding was derived from the following sources:

Loans.
Merit Scholarships.
Need Scholarships.
Teaching Assistantships.
My Student Job That Paid More Than PA Work.
Actual PA Work In The Summers (all secured via referrals from USC, internships, or my undergraduate connections).

In that order.


AFI in particular is very expensive just for their tuition, which is more than tuition AND living costs at USC combined, especially once you get into thesis year and are funding a major film. One of my closest friends from undergrad, and my former roommate, just finished her MFA over at AFI in June 2010, and we commiserate about our debt often.

We also agree it was worth every effing penny.

For years, we lived for film and television: she in AFI's editing program from 2008-2010, me in USC's writing program from 2007-2010. When I decided to go, I thought it was worth the money to live my dream, if only for a short time and in a surreal, educational environment, even if I failed miserably...but honestly, and a little surprisingly, I'm really enjoying life after film school, though it has its challenges. We were semi-immune to the recession, thanks to Sallie Mae, and I have to say, it was quite a shocker returning to the workforce.

The best survival advice I ever got came from the late great Sally Menke: "LOWER YOUR OVERHEAD." Get the lowest monthly recurring costs for yourself so you can spend your money on three things: on being social...it's a real part of LA/the industry, on good food...there's tons of it here, and you should not starve yourself, and, of course, on your projects. You should also be saving for after you graduate to make that loan money last as long as possible.

When you're not beholden to ridiculous monthly expenses you can survive on the no/low-paying jobs that present themselves after you graduate, if, like most folks, you don't sell a script or sign a hefty overall deal before you turn in your cap and gown on graduation day. I had various interviews lined up before I graduated, but I got a non-industry job for stability. I'm no longer dependent upon it, but I keep it because I'm spending thousands on my best friend's wedding this spring.

TV in particular is very low-paying when you first start out, though it's not too far to rise before you start pulling in major money. I've made a better day rate as a set PA on low-budget films than as a set PA on network shows, but at least with episodic TV you have consistency of employment rather than 13 days here, 6 days there.

Office PAs and Writer's Room PAs get basically the same deal. So after you free yourself from Sallie Mae's loving and evil habit of dropping tons of cash in your lap every semester, it's going to be a sharp change. You can ease your transition if you're not scraping up fifteen hundo for your rent every month...and the less you worry about money, the more your mind can focus on the work.

I currently work in feature development, and the money is much better than PA work, so I was able to afford to spend the last few months working on a passion project without fretting about the roof over my head!


Hope that helps.

Hey Jayimess,

Thanks for another one of your info-packed posts.

It's likely that I'm going to UCLA this fall for screenwriting. I'm super excited but I get anxious when I think of the debt/post-graduation/job prospects. I suppose I'm not quite the purist you are.

Ultimately my question is was it very difficult to get a job in development? I always thought that would be a decent compromise if/when I had to find a way to pay the bills that didn't involve screenwriting.

What's your take on development jobs? Are they more mentally stimulating than PA work? Can you find one in less than two years?

looking forward to your response!

Thanks
 

saintman

Well-Known Member
Hi Jayimess,

As an International Applicant I guess I wouldn't be able to get most of the benefits (read scholarships) that you might have received! Barring that, do you think it would affect me anyway to get a job there as PA or any other low-end jobs & most importantly is it easy to manage a work visa after doing a film course (Production)?

I believe you may not have much legal information about the visa issue but I'm sure you have friends from other countries who are in that position!!

Sorry to have bothered you
 

notroberttowne

Well-Known Member
I also would like to point out that, at the moment, federal financial aid is a pretty sweet deal. You cannot be required to pay more than 10% of your income per month and after 20 years of on-time payments your debt is forgiven. So, if you end up working at mcdonald's making $8 an hour, theoretically you'd pay $128 a month and, assuming you never get a raise, be out of film school debt for $30,720 bucks after 20 years. Which is, in my case, something less than a third of what I actually borrowed.

This is just hypothetical, and the way things are going in D.C. likely to chance, but for the moment it makes me feel a hell of a lot better about my debt.
 
notrobertowne & dafness, be careful before leaping for fed loans b/c it seems like a sweet deal. I've been weighing this option against using aid and some of my own money.

Of course failing to pay off the remaining loans is would be a worst case scenario. But as notroberttowne said, and what a lot of people don't know, is that the debt ceiling debate will likely affect the student loans. Believe it or not they're a player in the debt currently on the table. If the loans are not sold, I'm sure the terms will change. The kind of thinking and shoddy math behind the forgiveness clause is negligence.
 

Bouier

New Member
43-Diddy-Ballin.gif


Making a few phone calls.
 
I have the same questions that Saintman has asked earlier in this thread...I come from the Asian Subcontinent..India to be precise...any one kind enough to provide suggestions or inputs ??
 

Jayimess

Well-Known Member
The jobs you get depend on the work you do, and the relationships you build. I got mine with minimal effort due to relationships, about five months after graduation. I worked as a freelance PA in television until then.

International Students: the scholarships I spoke of aren't just for Americans. They're for any student. You can get student work, assistantships, all of it...just not federal loans, as I understand it.
 

Lvn

Well-Known Member
Hey internationals,

I'm also an international. I'm studying Screenwriting at USC.

Here's the deal: Yes, you don't get federal loans, and, honestly, while student work is available they make you jump through some hoops to get it. I applied to all the libraries on the campus and... Well, zilch. However, I found myself work this summer in the Writing Department, so there's that. Also, if you are in Production; you have more technical skills you can capitalize upon. Editing Labs always look for techs and so forth.

Scholarships are open to mostly everyone. However, from what I hear, it is hard to get need-based scholarships when you are foreign. That being said, the Merit scholarships are open to everyone. They mostly cover 2 credits here, 4 credits there, but there are some big ones like Sloan which would help you a ton. For example, I got a scholarship that pays for my whole school credits and gives me a certain amount of stipend to live on.

As Jayimess put; you can also get teacher's assistantships, which pay for 2-4 units and can help you out.

As for getting jobs after graduation; you have one year to get a job. After that one year, the company has to sponsor you. This is tough; they have to do a lot of paperwork for you and they don't get certain tax-cuts if they hire an international person. And considering Hollywood is a business that takes time to break into... It'll be a challenge to find a company willing to sponsor you that soon.

During the school year unless it's pertinent to your classes, you are not allowed to hold a job. There are ways to skate around this I've heard ( Starkies, for example, get a mandatory paid internship on their first year, whether they are international or not. ), but I can't help you on this matter. The classes have been slaying me.

Back to whether you're gonna get a job after graduation or not... To re-emphasize J's point; relationships. That's what this town revolves around, that's why it's worth to go to school. You learn things, yeah, but what really stays is the community of people you bond with and guess what will happen when they/you get a job as a Co-Exec on a TV show and need someone to fill up the Staff-Writing position.

And here's a sweet thing about being foreign, if you can hack your way to a job interview - you get a headstart. People here are always curious about applicant's backgrounds etc. They always want something unique or different about that person, a different point of view. The fact that you lived most of your life in a whole another country works well in this respect.

If you have any questions, I'm glad to answer them.
 
Add your film school application to our Application Database so that we can improve our admissions statistics.

Add Application…

Student Films Made at Film Programs

A248
Views
39
Reaction score
2
An artist invites an especially harsh critic to her studio for an exclusive preview of her latest work.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
PROD 550
Film Type
Assignment
Genre
Horror
Duration/Running Time
6:01
Film Completion
May 1, 2019
A248
Views
43
Reaction score
1
In the midst of a global pandemic, a very paranoid vampire orders contactless food delivery.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
PROD 685
Film Type
Assignment
Genre
Comedy
Duration/Running Time
1:24
Film Completion
Aug 1, 2020
A248
Views
46
Reaction score
1
An exploration of the history and modern day importance of postcards.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
PROD 670
Film Type
Thesis Film
Genre
Documentary
Duration/Running Time
17:31
Film Completion
May 1, 2021

Users who are viewing this thread


Latest Accepted Applications


Acceptance Data
For up to date Film School Acceptance Rates, including Minimum GPAs, Minimum Test Scores, After Interview and Off-Waitlist Acceptance Rates, Film Experience and Undergraduate degrees of accepted applicants, Age data, and other acceptance statistics for your film program of choice simply navigate to the Acceptance Rates tab on each film school's page in our Film School Database.

For example:
Add your own Application to our application database to help improve the site's acceptance data.

Latest Applications

Latest reviews

Latest Articles

Latest Accepted Applications

Top