• For posts related to budget, finanace, legalities, distro, and marketing (including festivals) please post in Film Biz.
    Rule of thumb:
    Filmmaking for directors (creative)
    Film Biz for producers (buisness)

film-school FAFSA(federal student aid) for film school?

Hi. It's been awhile since i've been on the site with everything that's been going on lately. With that in mind, earilier this year, I posted an idea for a story i'm working on called Grayland which basically was a post apocalyptic franchise I was planning to turn into a film series. In the meantime i've bought a few screen writing books to help me down the road in working on Grayland. However i've been thinking about using a FAFSA application to finance me going to film school, but before I do this, I wanted to know your two cents on this subject and if there are strings attached, which I assume there are since nothing in this world is free, but I wanted to weigh in on your thoughts on the subject. Now I wasn't sure what part of the forums this would fit at the moment, and I won't mind it being moved to a different section should the need arise. With that in mind i've included a video to explain to those not in the know about what FAFSA's are.
 
Last edited:

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
The term "financial aid" covers many things, and a college or university can give you some or all of them.
FAFSA is for financial need; there are also some scholarships that don't depend/require need.

If you submit the financial aid application and get accepted to an accredited college or university, you'll need to evaluate the aid that they give you. Scholarships don't need to be re-paid but some will require you to maintain a certain grade point average. Loans can get VERY expensive and onerous, and can be impossible for some people to repay with the job(s) that they can get when they're out of school.

I'd just say be VERY careful. There's no harm in submitting the FAFSA, but be careful what you agree to.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
What mara said - in 2005 our representatives passed BAPCPA - making it impossible to discharge student loan debt.

The only exceptions are severe undue hardship.. like if you are attacked by a shark and lose both your arms, then you will be allowed to escape your debt. Otherwise - you are saddled for life and the interest rates will keep you earning money for your creditors for decades to come.
 
The term "financial aid" covers many things, and a college or university can give you some or all of them.
FAFSA is for financial need; there are also some scholarships that don't depend/require need.

If you submit the financial aid application and get accepted to an accredited college or university, you'll need to evaluate the aid that they give you. Scholarships don't need to be re-paid but some will require you to maintain a certain grade point average. Loans can get VERY expensive and onerous, and can be impossible for some people to repay with the job(s) that they can get when they're out of school.

I'd just say be VERY careful. There's no harm in submitting the FAFSA, but be careful what you agree to.
Thanks for the advice. Any recommendations for what I should and shouldn't agree to?
 
Just be very cautious about any loans - you could potentially be tying a brick around your own neck.
True. Many people these days find themselves up to their neck in debt. It not only causes alot of financial stress, but drive them to the edge. I just hope my FAFSA should it get approved doesn't lead me in the wrong direction. I myself have Autism and as a result I think if should help my FAFSA get approved, though even that likely isn't enough. I still want to be cautious with my future of course.
 
Last edited:

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
i went through your brief post history and i dont see any discussion about whether film school is worth it for you

A huge part of film school is about making personal connections.. are you good at that sort of thing?
Many people find that college gives them a lot of debt and that they could have gotten the same education on their own.

Hell even for me, with a computer science degree, a lot of those classes was just me reading a textbook.
The teacher for network security had the WORST stutter, it was so difficult to be lectured by him.. and he knew it. he stuck to the textbook, I got an A in that class. What was the point of paying thousands of dollars for it though? Just so i can have a degree when i apply for a job.

There are many paths tho, if you want people to take you seriously when you are applying for a job. not just a degree.
 
i went through your brief post history and i dont see any discussion about whether film school is worth it for you

A huge part of film school is about making personal connections.. are you good at that sort of thing?
Many people find that college gives them a lot of debt and that they could have gotten the same education on their own.

Hell even for me, with a computer science degree, a lot of those classes was just me reading a textbook.
The teacher for network security had the WORST stutter, it was so difficult to be lectured by him.. and he knew it. he stuck to the textbook, I got an A in that class. What was the point of paying thousands of dollars for it though? Just so i can have a degree when i apply for a job.

There are many paths tho, if you want people to take you seriously when you are applying for a job. not just a degree.
What path's would you recommend?
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
What path's would you recommend?

There are other people on the forum that will be able to speak to you from their experience and give good advice here.
My personal path that I am looking to currently ... i want to have 5 full scripts written and then try to get an agent.

If you have amazing scripts nobody cares how old you are or what your education is.
They only care that you can sell them your existing properties and write more amazing scripts.

My favorite film maker, chris mcquarrie, started out just as a writer for many many years.
 
Last edited:
There are other people on the forum that will be able to speak to you from their experience and give good advice here.
My personal path that I am looking to currently ... i want to have 5 full scripts written and then try to get an agent.

If you have amazing scripts nobody cares how old you are or what your education is.
They only care that you can sell them your existing properties and write more amazing scripts.

My favorite film maker, chris mcquarrie, started out just as a writer for many many years.
Thanks for the advice.
 
Your post doesn't tell us how old you are, so there are multiple scenarios out there.

My daughter, who will be going to college for writing/theater, has received three different scholarships from the college she will be attending next fall as well as one from her high school and she has also received two grants plus a few other financial assists. My wife and I will be left with the incidental costs like housing, food, etc. How do you qualify for so much aid? Be near the top of your class for four years while taking AP (Advanced Placement) classes, lots of extracarricular activities and, of course, and having your teachers and counselors like really like you so the recommendation letters absolutely sparkle and shine.

My daughter seems to thrive in "formal" education situations. I personally HATED the traditional school scene, absolutely DETESTED it!!! I make out best in "learn as you go" type of scenarios. I never went to college, yet in 1989 I became Operations Manager for a small corporation, having started as a part-time call center representative with the company in 1986.

As a musician - yes, I took "traditional" music lessons - by discipline, hard work and luck I got pretty high up the food chain, playing major venues and even a few broadcasts. After my music career I was a recording engineer and about 18 years ago opened my audio post business. Some good, solid coaching and some mentoring got me started and kept me on track.

Think this through carefully. Student loans can be an albatross around your neck for decades. Is it worth it for just one project? Try some seminars (one-time cost) and networking with other writers. Science fiction/fantasy author Orson Scott Card (he wrote "Enders Game"), even after numerous novels and short story collections still to this day (well, not recently, I guess) regularly attends writers workshops to share with other writers, from newbs to other established authors. All my audio post education/knowledge has been books, videos and interacting with every sound designer/audio editor I could contact. I did luck out in that I was mentored via email by Randy Thom (he's a hugely successful sound editor/designer/supervisor and rerecording mixer) before he hit it mega-big.

Sorry to make this aout my daughter and myself, but it does contain opposite examples of how to achieve your goals. Again, think this through CAREFULLY!
 
Your post doesn't tell us how old you are, so there are multiple scenarios out there.

My daughter, who will be going to college for writing/theater, has received three different scholarships from the college she will be attending next fall as well as one from her high school and she has also received two grants plus a few other financial assists. My wife and I will be left with the incidental costs like housing, food, etc. How do you qualify for so much aid? Be near the top of your class for four years while taking AP (Advanced Placement) classes, lots of extracarricular activities and, of course, and having your teachers and counselors like really like you so the recommendation letters absolutely sparkle and shine.

My daughter seems to thrive in "formal" education situations. I personally HATED the traditional school scene, absolutely DETESTED it!!! I make out best in "learn as you go" type of scenarios. I never went to college, yet in 1989 I became Operations Manager for a small corporation, having started as a part-time call center representative with the company in 1986.

As a musician - yes, I took "traditional" music lessons - by discipline, hard work and luck I got pretty high up the food chain, playing major venues and even a few broadcasts. After my music career I was a recording engineer and about 18 years ago opened my audio post business. Some good, solid coaching and some mentoring got me started and kept me on track.

Think this through carefully. Student loans can be an albatross around your neck for decades. Is it worth it for just one project? Try some seminars (one-time cost) and networking with other writers. Science fiction/fantasy author Orson Scott Card (he wrote "Enders Game"), even after numerous novels and short story collections still to this day (well, not recently, I guess) regularly attends writers workshops to share with other writers, from newbs to other established authors. All my audio post education/knowledge has been books, videos and interacting with every sound designer/audio editor I could contact. I did luck out in that I was mentored via email by Randy Thom (he's a hugely successful sound editor/designer/supervisor and rerecording mixer) before he hit it mega-big.

Sorry to make this aout my daughter and myself, but it does contain opposite examples of how to achieve your goals. Again, think this through CAREFULLY!
Interesting. I never thought about including my age. Never knew there were so many options out there.
 
What school are we talking? Whilst it’s all debt, there’s certainly a difference between a $150k loan and a $30k loan.

Film school isn’t for everyone, but I think depending on the school it can be great for a lot of people. Yes it’s about making networks and contacts, but it’s also about making films - particularly in an environment where you have access to cast, crew and equipment and it doesn’t matter if you f**k it up.

Is that worth $150k at 3%pa that might take you 30 years to pay off?
I don’t know. It’s an investment risk ultimately; as with any investment, the higher the risk, the greater potential for both a bigger payoff and a bigger loss. Just like any other risky investment, it’s success depends on a great deal of hard work, research and a bit of luck. The best thing about investing in yourself instead of, say, a sharemarket, is that you have far greater control over the outcome.

Yes, there are ways in which you can enter the industry that don’t require film school.

I come from a country where university is subsidised by the government, and the non-subsidised part is loaned to you in a capacity that is only indexed to inflation and you aren’t required to pay back until you reach a certain income threshold (and even then the payments are scaled based on your income), so I’m lucky in so far as the context of American universities. But, I don’t know that I would have been able to have the career I have had if I hadn’t gone to film school.
 
Last edited:
This is one reason to lament the passing of the pre-1950s Hollywood-style apprentice system. You started out as a go'fer who did real work, and, if you payed attention, were talented, sharp and worked your cajones off, you could move up in the system. That was your education.

As a musician I put in hours of practice to achieve proficiency. When I got into audio post I did quite a few short films - and one feature - for free or a token payment until I felt I truly had a grasp on what I was doing - sort of like my years playing dive bars in my late teens and early twenties.

I hate to keep playing proud poppa, but my daughter, since she has been unable to perform and direct and act in plays at school has put in a substantial portion of that time at home to write. She's already got several short or one act plays done, and outlines for several full length plays plus a few other things.

Since work is completely at a standstill for me I've been investing in a few personal projects. I had a religious upbringing and had always been heavily involved with the music programs, choir and the like. When I was in my tweens I was the organists little pet with my boy soprano and my musical acumen - he was my piano and organ teacher as well. I was the organist & choirmaster of a small church from 1974 to 1976; starting when I was 16. So the music is a part of who I am. Since the lock-down I've already transcribed over 100 hymns to MIDI. Only an hour to two a day, but it occupies some time and is emotionally satisfying. Spent a great evening a few days ago playing with crickets - meaning I loaded cricket sounds into Pro Tools and folded, spindled, mutilated, twisted and tweaked them with every plug-in I have in my arsenal. I've done the same with other sounds. I took an old sci-fi film off of Prelinger and tried to "Chewbacca" a voice to the alien; you know, using animal sounds as language. I discovered you need a VERY extensive library........

Ever hear of Piers Anthony? He has well over 70 novels to his credit. He works on two novels simultaneously. Mornings are dedicated to working on new material, that's when he's most creative. Afternoons are for editing the second project. Evenings are for reading, stimulating conversation or watching informative TV.

How much do you write? Proficiency means every day. Author John Varley, when out of inspiration, writes character descriptions of random names from the phone book. He even published a sampling of them in one of his short story collections. "They may be terrible, but at least I wrote something."

Post a few of your scripts for critique. There are quite a few talented, qualified, helpful folks here on IndieTalk who would be glad to politely and respectfully pull your work to pieces.

BTW, you never answered the question... How old ARE you?
 
BTW, you never answered the question... How old ARE you?
Sorry for not answering. I'm 31. It may come off as a rather young age since I have quite a lot of life ahead of me. Granted Stephan Spielberg has been making films prior to that age, but I can see where your getting at. I might upload some scripts in the future. Might resurrect the Grayland threat I made. I have a series of additional concepts to add and some scenes. I've even wrote down a list of idea's for room for improvement and some concepts to consider.
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I don't see where you're from/currently live, but you could consider taking a few classes part time to learn the things you're interested in and that might help you to move forward. I did 2 1/2 years of college straight out of high school, then quite and went to work (lots of reasons). Once I realized that screenwriting is what I love and want to do, I finished up part time at night at the New School University in Manhattan. I took one class at a time for a few years.

The great thing (for me) is that while I did finish my degree, there were lots of people in my classes who were taking one or thirty classes just to learn. They also offer certificates in various fields (including aspects of filmmaking), which you can pursue with or without a degree as a goal.

You may find colleges/universities/community colleges in your area that offer similar opportunities without the commitment and expense of 4 years full time.
 
Top