Study: Art School Graduates Rack Up the Most Debt

A recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal over the latest Department of Education statistics finds that graduates of art-focused schools tend to rack up the most debt.

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Thomas Barwick / Getty

Pity the poor art student. Not only do art degrees tend to result in lower-paying jobs overall after college, but a recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal over the latest Department of Education statistics finds that graduates of art schools actually rack up more debt than those who attend other types of colleges.

The figures are based on federal education loans taken out in 2010-11 by students and their parents where the student is the responsible lienholder. In 2012 alone, it is estimated that almost 67% of college students who graduated in 2012 had loans, up 63% from ten years ago.

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According to the study, the school with the most debt for its graduates is the Creative Center Art College in Omaha, Neb. The median debt load for each student is $52,035, while over the first five years after graduation an average alum makes around $30,000 a year.

However, that number can be misleading, the school’s president Ray Dotzler claims in a Wall Street Journal interview, saying that students get a decent return on their investment despite the debt they amass. “Salaries can be pretty darn high or pretty low,” he said. Graduates who end up getting jobs in in graphic arts or advertising tend to do well for themselves. “We have graduates making six figures, which we think is really good,” he added, although he admits that some make far, far lower salaries.

The Creative Center is followed by the Manhattan School of Music, where high levels of student debt are also attributed to the high cost of living in New York City. Other artsy schools that have high median debt loads include the Newschool of Architecture and Design in California, the Design Institute of Chicago, the Ringling College of Art and Design and the Digital Media Arts College in Florida.

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School debt is up across the board: as of the end of last year, Americans carried a total of nearly $1 trillion in student debt. But graduates of general liberal-arts schools tend to carry less debt than those of arts-focused institutes, the Journal reports; and those of research universities tend to carry less debt than those of liberal-arts schools.

The Dept. of Education plans to release more data in the upcoming year, including graduates’ salary information, as well as a loan comparison tool so that students and parents alike can see the best return on their educational investment when borrowing.

35 comments
zeitschon
zeitschon

The Creative Center only has Assoc and 3 year degrees, not doctorates as Attorney's have.  There may be one instructor who has a college degree on staff.  It is a "family operation".



1karlhardy
1karlhardy

The saddest part of this article is that real artists do not need high art education bills - true creativity comes from within - the majority of successful artists work comes from within and guided by instructors - not dominated by rules and schools and degrees.  

As a successful career artist (40 years) with published a4rticles and books - I have never been asked for my degree - the work speaks for itself.

AkyFierce
AkyFierce

Ask Charlotte York-Goldenblatt! | “@TIME: Study: Art school students build up the biggest debt | http://t.co/mgUj6ekx1l (via @TIMENewsFeed)”

Kristy Rodriguez
Kristy Rodriguez

And what the heck do they do with it when done. End up Jobless with no skills many times. What a huge waste of time and money.

Lok Ting Lui
Lok Ting Lui

Every school has graduates who make six figures.

Roger K Eriksen
Roger K Eriksen

My nephew was a law student and racked up $250K in debt. TIME magazine did not do the research well.

McPhee VoniaBlack
McPhee VoniaBlack

did u know student loan collection agencies r getting most of Americans money than the IRS! they r scam artists. college is a scam. think about it. you give them your info they go crazy with adding fees of on your account u made with them. They dont show u where your money is spent only what they tapped onto your name that semester. funny how u owe $5,000 & just started a month ago. by end of 6 months u owe $8,000. by end of 1 year u owe $10,000. u call teachers they dont work there anymore. u call ur advisor they dont work there anymore. but u call loans & they ask for payments & threaten u if u dont do what they ask with jail time & other stuff. like I said its a scam. college was made for rich talented & clever, smart people. the Illuminati is over every college that is well known along with fraternities & sororities. why u think they do hazings, binging, sexscapades & wild parties daily? they dont care about u passing they just wanna get paid to keep their schools open & looking its best as teachers & staff get paid handsomely.

Vanessa Jimenez
Vanessa Jimenez

Yep. Artinstitute of Dallas grad, and still paying Sallie Mae

cli6cli6
cli6cli6

Well... Yea... “@TIMENewsFeed: Study: Art-school graduates end up with more debt than students at other schools | http://t.co/6qRTqF0dph

pendragon05
pendragon05

How about something more useful, like engineering?

DavidSmith2
DavidSmith2

Same as "liar loans" in the sub-prime real estate market.  As long as the money was made available, it was spent with no intention of payback.

mmharfoush
mmharfoush

@TIME @TIMENewsFeed That just seems like such a #WasteOfTime. Why don't they pursue something that they can make a living doing?

RobynLud
RobynLud

YOU GOT THAT RIGHT #broke “@TIME: Study: Art school students build up the biggest debt | http://t.co/loRVXiDDUO (via @TIMENewsFeed)”

JulieAG
JulieAG

“@TIME: Study: Art school students build up the biggest debt | http://t.co/K6Yb2rPJZ7 (via @TIMENewsFeed)” ironic bc they earn the least

DomJuanMichel
DomJuanMichel

@TIME @TIMENewsFeed good morning, congratulations

Samuel11
Samuel11

@1karlhardy That may be true in your situation, but as a classical musician that is the farthest thing from the truth. Classical musicians have to study many many subjects as well as their craft, and without a degree no one will even let you in to audition. The arts don't only include visual art.

rachaelhulme
rachaelhulme

@Kristy Rodriguez Did you type this comment on a computer? Or maybe a smart phone? Either of those were likely designed or contributed to in some way by an artist. How about the clothes you're wearing? Probably designed by an artist prior to production. How about the images you see on this web page, in the newspaper, or on billboards? Could have been taken by a photographer with an art degree. So no, not a huge waste of time or money and absolutely not an educational decision that leaves one with "no skills". What an art student does with their degree is entirely up to them, and certainly some are more successful than others, but that applies to absolutely any field of study.