Even though Berklee Online is one of the most affordable ways to earn your music degree, you’re still making a big investment in your future. Learning how to finance your education is going to make you feel even more confident in this decision and can help you cut down on your tuition costs. Remember that the team at Berklee Online is available to help you every step of the way. Here are 10 tips that will help you save on your Berklee Online education:

1. Apply for Financial Aid

Domestic Students

If you are a US Citizen and a permanent resident, it’s very important that you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid on time if you meet the requirements. This will ensure that you have the greatest chance of receiving financial aid, according to your situation. The FAFSA process is lengthy and requires an afternoon at your computer with your file cabinet at arm’s reach. Yes, this is a commitment, but anything worth doing is, and if you get it done as early as possible, you’ll increase your chances of receiving as much federal aid as you are eligible for. 

Learn More about Federal Financial Aid

International Students

International students also have options to finance their education. Many loan companies offer programs for credit-worthy applicants with a US citizen or permanent resident cosigner. Check out the ELMSelect and Credible sites, which may assist you in searching for private loans. If you are an international student, the team in Student Financial Services can also help you find more solutions.

Email the Office of Student Financial Services financialaid@berklee.edu or call 617-747-2274.

2. Berklee Online Scholarships

Gloria Estefan, Paul Simon, and Herbie Hancock are just a few of the musicians who contribute to the Celebrity Online Scholarship through Berklee. This scholarship is open to online undergraduate-level certificate students and awards $1,497 to use towards the tuition of an individual undergraduate-level course, or a course in an undergraduate-level certificate program.

Learn More about the Celebrity Online Scholarship

If you are a continuing undergraduate student, then you may be eligible for the Berklee Online Undergraduate Degree Scholarship. This is for students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, a minimum of 90 credits completed, and a demonstrated financial need. To apply, students must write a personal statement in 500 words or less. 

Learn More about the Undergraduate Degree Scholarship

3. Outside Scholarships

Here’s the truth: many students don’t take advantage of all of the outside scholarship opportunities available to them. It’s understandable, given the time and energy it requires to apply to one scholarship, let alone several. But here’s why it’s worth your time: Let’s say that you spend five hours working on two applications, and you end up earning $500 in scholarship money. That means you’re making $100 per hour with that rate of success. Not bad. Of course it might take more than two tries to win a scholarship, but the more you flex this muscle, the better you get at telling your story, which could mean the more letters of congratulations you’ll receive. 

Learn More about Outside Scholarships

4. Ask for eGift Cards

Berklee Online now offers eGift cards—which are good for Berklee Online courses and certificate programs—and they can be a great way to fund your education through the generous help of your loved ones. Instead of asking for a physical gift this holiday, you can hint to your family and friends that a contribution toward your music education would be the greatest gift of all. eGift cards can be made out to any amount and can help bring down, or even cover, the cost of a Berklee Online course. The process is quick, easy, and can be delivered straight to your email. Isn’t that a much better gift than a sweater you don’t need?

Learn More about eGift Cards

5. Declare Your Major and Stick with It

Deciding on a major is, well, a major decision. If you’re a multifaceted musician, it’s even harder to choose your desired route. If you really can’t decide on a major, one option is to choose the undeclared major, earning 45 credits that will transfer to any Berklee Online undergraduate program. You could also become an Interdisciplinary Music Studies major, combining your multiple interests, talents, and passions into one program. What you want to avoid is hopping from one program to another, especially programs that are vastly different from each other, as it may extend your graduation date, and cost you some excess credits.

6. Transfer In

Completing your prerequisites at a two-year college is a commonly overlooked option that could save you thousands of dollars. It does, however, take some planning in advance. Check out our transfer partner schools for an extremely seamless transfer process that will allow you to enter Berklee Online after completing most of your prerequisite courses. Two-year colleges typically cost less per credit because they are public institutions with in-state and in-county tuition. If you’ve previously attended a four-year institution, you can complete a transfer evaluation to see how many Berklee Online courses will count toward your desired program. 

Learn about Berklee Online’s Transfer Policy

7. Prior Learning Credits

Music is a different beast than other areas of study. It doesn’t make sense to have someone who has years of professional experience take intro-level courses that they might even be qualified to teach! See this example from alum Michael Pickering, who took advantage of prior learning credits. If your case for prior learning credits is accepted, you can forego up to 30 credits. 

Learn about Prior Learning Credits

8. Only Borrow What You Need

It can be necessary to take out a loan to cover your degree and your living expenses for the time that you’re attending Berklee Online. While this can allow you to fully focus on your workload, it can leave you with a lot more interest to repay once you earn your degree. You’ll end up paying much less in interest if you just borrow what you need. 

Also, it may not be possible to start paying off your loan while you’re still in school, but if you can even chip away small payments you’ll significantly reduce the interest you need to pay once you finish your degree. Pro tip: Set up a monthly automatic payment (it can be as low as $10 to begin with) so you can set it, forget it, and see a number that’s not quite as scary when you complete your degree.

9. Work Your Way Through

The beauty of Berklee Online is that you can complete your coursework at your own pace, and on your own schedule. That means you can plan out your weekly coursework to align with your work hours. Working while attending college is by no means easy, but with Berklee Online you at least don’t have to incorporate a campus commute into the equation and you can complete your assignments from your own space. And to the previous point, you can create some additional income to start paying back your loans, if that’s the route you go.

10. Talk with an Academic Advisor

Before you start making moves on this daunting task, talk with a Berklee Online Academic Advisor. They have helped thousands of Berklee Online students complete their programs, and can help you make the right enrollment decisions according to your goals. With a dedicated Academic Advisor assigned to each student and prospective student, you can be confident that you enroll in the courses you need to get to your destination.

Contact the Academic Advising team at 1-866-BERKLEE (or +1-617-747-2146 if you’re outside the US) or email advisors@online.berklee.edu.

 Published December 7, 2021