From New York to Nebraska, Art Schools Top the White House’s Debt Scorecard

by Corinna Kirsch on February 19, 2013 · 5 comments Newswire

Courtesy The New York Times

In last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama promised to launch the College Scorecard, a website that serves a straightforward purpose: to find out “where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.” With the website’s release this week, it comes as no surprise to find out that art students are laden with more debt than most other professions.

The Wall Street Journal, when comparing The White House’s college rankings site, finds that the schools with the highest median debt come from arts schools. The country’s highest median debt load upon graduation sits at $52,035; that startling figure comes from The Creative Center, a for-profit art college in Omaha, Nebraska. New York’s Manhattan School of Music comes in second with a median debt load of $47,000.

Closer to home, the median borrowing for families and students at New York-based schools sits uncomfortably high. From highest-to-lowest, there’s New York University at $29,260, Pratt Institute at $26,750, SVA at $26,000, The New School at $20,000, and Columbia $12,500.

These numbers have nothing to do with a school’s academic quality; this disparity in debt appears to rest on which families can afford to pay for college without taking out loans.

All these rocket-high numbers gave The Wall Street Journal occasion to make a series of bold, if obvious statements:

“Most people assume a degree in the arts is no guarantee of riches. Now there is evidence that such graduates also rack up the most student-loan debt.”

Will all this debt now out in the open, ward students away from pricey art schools with questionable pay off? Probably not. However, the College Scorecard appears to be part of The White House’s larger effort to bolster responsible spending. During his State of the Union, Obama claimed that he wants “Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” That intervention, we hope, could finally deter schools from sky-high tuition rates.


Donald Frazell February 20, 2013 at 1:14 am

Or deter naive young wannabe artistes from going into afield with no jobs and teaches no skills, of real life or job field. my mother graduated form what became University of teh arts with Irving Penn and always got jobs, low paying because of the obvious supply and demand ratio, because hse had commercial as well as fine art skills. And were alway hundred with none trying to get jobs. Think how bad it is now, that was decades ago.

Live a life, and if you really need to be an artist, at least you will ahve rel life experiences to work from, not sheltered and enttitled lifestyles of supposed Bohemians who really want Prius’ and tacky fashion lofts. Few artists whose work survives have gradutated from an art academy, those who did took decades to get the pablum of mediocrity out of their systems. Learn real skills, academic art is not as needed as you think, not when its all just games, toys and therapy.

Real creative art seeks the universal, the highest common denominator of man, not exposing ones own weaknesses and quirks, thats just boring and self absorbed.

“It is time to put aside childish things”
St Paula and some guy named Obama
And save the money for used art books and visiting museums, as Cezanne said. “The Louvre is our school”. Not eggheads and pharisees, but the real artworks that has survived, not fashion.

jmco February 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The WSJ article was misnamed. It should have been FINE ART. The DESIGN majors (except for architecture) at the top schools have done great over the years and will for decades to come. Most BFA or BID design students do internships and end up getting jobs strait out. I would advise parents to have their art loving child look at graphic design (which includes mostly digital media design nowadays), industrial design, and even now, architecture and fashion fields (both are/will recover in 4 years or less now). Film and video is another one to look at, as that industry is so broad now with the internet.
Photography – I would stay away from for now. Fine art majors like painting or sculpture should be left to the wealthy for the time being. Fine art majors should be looked at like acting. Only a very, very small percentage become be enough to do well. But most are starving and most end up changing majors, getting a second degree in a related or totally different field, or doing service jobs.
Many designers also become unsung entrepreneurs and start their own offices at some point. Hiring more designers and staff.

Corinna Kirsch February 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

“Fine art majors like painting or sculpture should be left to the wealthy for the time being.”

Donald Frazell February 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Exactly, though because of the glut of designers also it doesn’t pay well and have to start ones own business, my wife did and gets paid far less than her Finance degree fed project management days, she has combined both and more to networking a non profit which is fulfilling, but good luck with that too.

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