Transition and Finances Part 2: From Practicing Artist back to College student or Master’s

header-transitionArt and Money Matters Monday’s: This month we are blogging about transitions artists make and financial considerations for each transition. Last week we covered the transition from student life to life as a practicing artist.  Click here for more details.

This week we will touch on the reverse transition, from working artist to student. For many young artists, the hunger and passion to practice their craft is so strong that nothing else matters; completing school, building retirement savings, planning for a possible exit from performing. But according to William Deresiewicz (refer to blog), artists have evolved from Artisans to Creative Entrepreneurs. They’re freelancing, consulting and building businesses and in many cases need to build a new skill set and knowledge base.

Whether you are returning to college/grad school or are going for the first time, here are some money management tips to consider before starting school:

  1. Pay off outstanding personal debt (especially credit card debt) and find ways to reduce expenses that may be unnecessary while in school (car note/insurance, rent, premium cable channels).
  2. Research and apply for any scholarships and grants that would defray the cost of tuition. Get a crowdfunding campaign going and ask family and friends to donate to “Mission Graduation 20##”
  3. Build savings to cover at least the first 3-6 months of living expenses while in school. (If you HAVE to take out loans, it should primarily be for tuition, school fees and supplies as opposed to living expenses.) It is crucial to focus and get acclimated to student life in the first few months. Start by saving at least 5-10% of any money you’re  receiving for gigs and jobs.
  4. While in school, find an internship or part time job in order to continue covering the cost of your living expenses. The work should ideally be in line with your studies or what you’d like to do after graduation.
  5. A fellow dancer Sir Brock Warren (@only1sirbrock) gave the following anecdote for how he managed his finances when transitioning to a masters program. “To prepare for my transition into a masters program, I worked jobs that were flexible and chose a school that offered online and campus classes [so I had the flexibility to work and study]. I was on tour for a few months, did a sit down show for a couple of months, and taught classes, which helped me to sustain as I pursued my education.”

The decision to pursue higher education is a great one that requires significant financial resources. But it is one of the best investments in yourself and your future!

These are my 5 cents, what are yours? Share your thoughts. We’d love to hear it.

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