Financial Aid for Music Education Students

Financial aid for the music education program is different from the aid offered for traditional programs. There are two basic differences: financial aid for a music education student is based on year-round attendance and on the number of credits that the student takes each semester.

Most traditional programs operate on a two-semester basis, fall and spring. The music education program is based on a summer, fall, and spring academic year. Most traditional programs are billed so that all full-time students are charged the same amount, whether they’re taking the minimum number of credits for full-time enrollment or more than the minimum. The music education program is billed so that students pay for the specific number of credits they are taking.

Types of Financial Aid

Students in music education degree programs can use the following types of financial aid to help pay for their education. These include institutional scholarships and grants and federal and private student loans. Some students also choose to pay some or all of their tuition bill in monthly installments, via the tuition payment plan offered by Higher One.

Music Education Scholarships

The music education scholarships are merit based and are determined by the music education admissions committee from a review of all application materials and the interview/audition. They are awarded per credit.

Music Education Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG)

Music education grants are awarded in the amount of $335 per credit for students who are enrolled in another Conservatory program when they apply to the music education program, or who have completed a Conservatory program within two years of applying for the music education program. All other students are awarded $135 per credit.


Student loans come in two basic types, federal and private (alternative). Federal student loans available to music education graduate students include the federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. The maximum amount students can borrow in the Unsubsidized Loan is $20,500 per year (summer, fall, and spring).

Since the music education academic year consists of three semesters instead of two, music education students often find that $20,500 doesn’t meet their financial needs for the entire year. Once the $20,500 in the Unsubsidized Loan has been used (usually in the fall), students can apply for a Direct Grad PLUS Loan or a private educational loan (also known as an alternative loan). These two loans are based on a student’s credit. Students with no credit may still be eligible for the Grad PLUS but not for private loans. Students with bad credit won’t be eligible for either. If that’s the case, students can apply for both loans with a credit-worthy endorser. Please note that interest rates are better for private loans if a student applies with a credit-worthy endorser.

Students who attend on a less than a half-time basis are ineligible for the Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS loans.

Students must sign the award letter in order to receive the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. Loans cannot be processed after the student withdraws or goes on a leave of absence if the award letter has not been signed.

For more information about the direct and private loans, including how to apply for them, please click here.

Tuition Payment Plan

This plan allows students to pay expenses in monthly installments, rather than paying all at once or borrowing funds. Since it is not a loan, the tuition payment plan carries no interest payments or other fees beyond its one-time startup fee. There are plans for just one semester and plans for the entire academic year. Please note: the tuition payment plan is not available in the summer except for a one-time credit card payment.

To enroll in a plan, click here or call 800-635-0120. Students who are interested in more information about this plan or in other methods of payment should contact the Bursar at 617-912-9164 or in person.

On-Campus Employment

Boston Conservatory has two on-campus work programs, Federal Work-Study and Conservatory Employment. Federal Work-Study is available only to students who fill out the FAFSA and show need. Work-study is a financial aid award. Priority for work-study goes to full-time students.

Conservatory Employment is not a financial aid award. A student applies for a job and, if he or she is hired and doesn’t have work-study, the student will be paid through Conservatory Employment.

Cost of Attendance

To determine a student’s loan eligibility in any given semester, the Conservatory starts by determining the student’s cost of attendance or budget. The cost of attendance is made up of two types of charges:

  • Direct costs, such as tuition, required fees, health insurance, and on-campus housing. The fees for music education students differ from the fees for students in other programs, as music education students generally spend less time on campus and make less use of campus facilities. Health insurance can be waived if a student is already covered by a qualified health insurance plan.
  • Estimated costs include off-campus housing, books and supplies, travel expenses, and miscellaneous living expenses.

It is not possible for us to assess and document each individual student’s financial needs for these costs, so average costs are used, which are the same for everyone. Every two years, the Conservatory takes a survey of students to determine these average costs.

Every semester, the Financial Aid Office will create a student budget for each student. The Conservatory uses information about credit enrollment to determine a student’s tuition and fees. Then, based on whether the student is full time or part time, the student’s estimated costs are calculated.

For full-time music education students living off campus, the cost of attendance* is as follows:

  Summer 2017 Fall and Spring 2017/2018
Tuition $1,705 per credit     $1,705 per credit
Fees $705    $2,345
Living Expenses $3,526  $16,280
Travel $274  $1,176
Books $500   $580

*Master of Music students: Full time for summer is 10 credits; 5 credits for fall and spring.
*Graduate Certificate students: Full time for fall/spring is 6.5 credits.
*Students who live with their parents will have a lower Cost of Attendance. For more information, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
**Tuition, Fees, Travel and Books will be determined based on the number of credits taken.

The Cost of Attendance will be different each semester depending on how many credits the student takes.

The Conservatory recognizes that occasionally a student has a special situation that falls outside the average cost estimates. If the cost of attendance calculated by the Financial Aid Office doesn’t accurately reflect the situation, students should contact Nicole Brennan, director of financial aid, to discuss their student budget.

Communications from the Financial Aid Office

The Financial Aid Office maintains frequent contact with our music education students. We make every attempt to send documents to the student’s current home address or to the most accurate email address we have on file. The following is a rundown of the documents we send out during the year.

  1. When a student is first accepted, a letter is sent explaining the student’s scholarship and grant funding.
  2. When the FAFSA is received, a letter is sent explaining federal loans. If the FAFSA is in when the student is first accepted, the above two letters will be combined. If the FAFSA never comes in, the student will not receive this letter or any federal loans.

Before every semester, we send the following:

  1. Summer award letter
  2. Fall award letter
  3. Spring award letter

Each semester, when the Conservatory is notified of how many credits a student is taking, a specific award letter is created for that semester. These award letters will show the amount of scholarship and grant money the student is eligible for based on number of credits. The letters will also show the maximum amount of Direct Unsubsidized Loan the student is eligible for based on the semester cost of attendance. If the student has been awarded the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, the award letter must be signed and returned in order for the loan to be processed.

Summary Information

  • Graduate students are eligible for $20,500 per year in Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
  • We award a student the Direct Unsubsidized Loan based on eligibility per semester.  
  • In the summer, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan amount on the award letter is the maximum that the student can take out for that semester. That means that it's usually more than what is needed for direct costs. In that case, the student may want to lessen the amount on the award letter.
  • In the fall and spring, the Direct Unsubsidized Loan amount on the award letter will be the rest of the yearly limit.  It may be less than what is needed for direct costs. In that case, the student may need to look into the Grad PLUS Loan or a private loan. Please note: Grad PLUS and private loans will not show on an award letter unless the student has been approved for them.
  • Grad PLUS and private loans may be taken out in the fall to cover the fall and spring expenses instead of taking out a fall loan and then a spring loan. The student will need to estimate the number of credits to be taken in the spring and inform the Financial Aid Office of these plans. If the actual spring credits are lower than the estimate, the loan may have to be adjusted downward. We will never adjust the loan upward without the student’s written request.
  • IMPORTANT: Each award letter must be signed and returned for us to process the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. If documents are requested in the award letter, they must be sent to us as well.

Financial Aid Timeline for Music Education Students

Unless otherwise noted, items on this timeline pertain to both new students and returning students.

JANUARY 1 FAFSA for upcoming year becomes available
JANUARY 2 Spring semester tuition bills due for returning students
JANUARY 3 Start of spring classes
JANUARY 4 Add/drop period for spring semester ends
FEBRUARY 1 Estimated date for spring refunds to students
APRIL/MAY Ongoing As new students are accepted to the program, preliminary financial aid packets are sent out
APRIL/MAY Ongoing Students complete Direct Loan Master Promissory Notes and other required paperwork
MAY 1 Tuition bills sent out for summer semester
JUNE 1 Tuition bills due for summer semester
JUNE 3 Classes begin; loan funds sent to school by lenders

Add/drop period for summer semester ends

JULY 1 Estimated date for summer refunds to students
AUGUST 1 Tuition bills sent out for fall semester; fall award letters sent to students to be signed and returned
AUGUST 2 Recommended target date for students to complete their financial aid arrangements for fall semester
AUGUST 4 Tuition bills due for fall semester
SEPTEMBER 2 First day of classes; loan funds sent to school by lenders
SEPTEMBER 3 Add/drop period for fall semester ends
OCTOBER 1 Estimated date for fall refunds to students

Tuition bills sent out for spring semester; spring award letters sent to students to be signed and returned

DECEMBER 3 Recommended target date for students to complete their financial aid arrangements for spring semester; last day of classes



























Enrollment in Dual Degree Programs

Students enrolled in two programs (the music education program and the B.M., G.P.D., or M.M. in music performance) begin their studies in music education in the summer. They are considered to be enrolled as music education students. During the summer semester, these students are billed and given scholarships as music education students.

During the academic year, these students are considered to be enrolled as students in their B.M., M.M., or G.P.D. program. They take those courses during the day, and they take additional music education courses in the evenings. These students are billed and awarded scholarships as students in their B.M., M.M., or G.P.D. program until they reach the maximum number of credits that can be taken in those programs (18 credits for undergraduates, 10 for M.M. students in performance or composition, 12 for M.M. students in opera, and 13 for M.F.A. students and seven for G.D.P. students in performance). Any credits taken over that maximum number of credits are billed and considered for scholarships as music education credits. Students complete their B.M., M.M., or G.P.D. program first, and they graduate from that program. After this point, the students are considered to be enrolled only as music education students. They take the remaining music education courses that they need for their degree program. They graduate from the music education program and receive their M.M.Ed. or G.D.M.E. when they have completed their program.

Undergraduate Students

Dually enrolled undergraduate students are in an unusual situation regarding their financial aid eligibility. They become graduate students as soon as they start to take their music education classes. These students will be considered independent and will no longer have to report their parents' income information on the FAFSA. This is a double-edged sword: While dually enrolled undergraduates become eligible for graduate-level loans, they also become ineligible for undergraduate financial aid such as the Pell and SEO grants and the Parent PLUS Loan. Dually enrolled undergraduates become ineligible for undergraduate financial aid even during the regular academic year when they’re taking their B.M. classes.

Other Important Things to Know

Less than Full-Time Enrollment—Financial aid is reduced when a student takes less than a full-time number of credits. Students are responsible for knowing at all times of whether their enrollment status is full time, half time, or less than half time. Once a student drops below half-time status, he or she is no longer eligible for any federal loan aid (Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Direct Grad PLUS Loan). The student also becomes subject to loan repayment.

Teaching Internship—This is especially important for students in their final semester who have completed their class work and are enrolled only for a teaching internship. The teaching internship by itself doesn’t carry enough credits to qualify a student for federal student loans. Students who are enrolled less than half time may still be eligible for private student loans.

Temporary Leave—If a student doesn't attend for a semester or longer, he or she is considered to have withdrawn for the purposes of federal financial aid. If the student has taken out federal loans, he or she will be reported to the federal government as withdrawn and the loan grace period will start as of the student's last date of attendance.

Repaying Student Loans—When a student graduates or drops below half-time status, his or her loan status changes. Some loans, such as the Direct Student Loans, go into a grace period and then into a repayment status. Other loans, such as the Grad PLUS and many alternative loans, go directly into repayment.

Of particular interest to music education students are the Teacher Loan Forgiveness and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. For more information about these two programs and for student loan repayment information in general, please see the Student Loan Repayment Guide.