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Financial Aid for the Music Education Degree Programs

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. Our 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. Our music education program is billed so that the student pays for the specific number of credits they’re 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.


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.


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 Ed 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 $20500 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 (aka 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, then students can apply for both loans with a credit worthy endorser. Please note that interest rates are better with the 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 on 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 it all at once or borrowing funds. Since it isn’t a loan, the Tuition Payment Plan carries no interest payments or other fees beyond its one-time start-up 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, students may go to 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 for the Boston Conservatory, at 617-912-9164 or visit the Bursar's page.

On-campus employment

The 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 is hired and doesn’t have Work Study, he will be paid through Conservatory Employment.

Cost of Attendance

To determine a student’s loan eligibility in any given semester, we start 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’s not possible for us to assess and document each individual student’s financial needs for these costs, so we use average costs that are the same for everyone. Every two years we take a survey of students to determine these average costs.

Every semester, the Financial Aid Office will create a student budget for each student. We check to see how many credits for which a student enrolls, and we use that information to figure out a student’s tuition and fees. Then, based on whether the student is full-time or part-time, we calculate the student’s estimated costs.

For full-time music education students living off-campus, the 2016–2017 Cost of Attendance is as follows:

Summer 2016

  • Tuition: $1,670 per regular credit; $1,950 per applied lesson credit 
  • Fees: $690 full-time/$340 part-time
  • Books: $500 
  • Travel: $258 (for seven weeks)
  • Living Expenses: $3,318 (for seven weeks)

Full-time for students in the Master of Music program during the summer is 10 credits.

Full-time for students in the Graduate Diploma program during the summer is eight credits.


Fall 2016 and Spring 2017

  • Tuition: $1,670 per regular credit; $1,950 per applied lesson credit
  • Fees: $2,300 full-time/pro-rated based on credit load if part-time
  • Books: $570
  • Travel: $1,160
  • Living Expenses: $14,908 

Full-time for Master of Music students during the academic year is five credits per semester.

Full-time for Graduate Diploma students during the academic year is three credits per semester.

Full-time for Graduate Certificate students during the academic year is six-and-a-half credits per semester.


Additional Costs:

  • Life Experience Waiver: $840 per credit
  • Practicum, in-state: $430 per course
  • Health Insurance: $2,109

The basic financial aid equation is: 

          Cost of Attendance 
---      Financial Aid (scholarships, grants, etc.) 
         Loan eligibility

As this equation demonstrates, a student’s total financial aid (including scholarships, grants, loans and any other sources of aid) can’t exceed the student’s Cost of Attendance. Therefore, most loans taken by a student require the approval of the school’s Financial Aid Office, via a process called certification.

We recognize 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.

When a student is first accepted:

1. A letter explaining the student’s scholarship and grant funding

When the FAFSA comes in:

2. A letter explaining federal loans. If the FAFSA is in when the student is first accepted, then 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:

3. Summer award letter
4. Fall award letter
5. Spring award letter

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

Good to Know:

  • Graduate Students are eligible for $20,500 in Direct Unsubsidized Loan per year.
  • We award a student whatever Direct Unsubsidized Loan eligibility they have for a particular 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 they’ll take in the spring and let the Financial Aid Office know what he wants to do. 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.

VERY IMPORTANT: Each award letter must be signed and returned for us to process the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. If documents are requested on 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.


First Week FAFSA for upcoming year becomes available at
Second Week Spring semester tuition bills due for returning students
Third Week Start of spring classes
Fourth Week Drop/Add period for spring semester ends


First Week Estimated date for spring refunds to students


Ongoing As new students are accepted to the program, preliminary financial aid packets are sent out
Ongoing Students complete Direct Loan Master Promissory Notes and other required paperwork


First Week Tuition bills sent out for summer semester
First Week Summer Award Letters are sent to students to be signed and returned


First Week Tuition bills due for summer semester
Third Week Classes begin.  Loan funds sent to school by lenders
Fourth Week Drop/Add period for summer semester ends


First Week Estimated date for summer refunds to students


First Week Tuition bills sent out for fall semester 
First Week Fall Award letters are sent to students to be signed and returned
Second Week Recommended target date for students to complete their financial aid arrangements for fall semester
Fourth Week Tuition bills due for fall semester


Second week First day of classes

Second week

Loan funds sent to school by lenders
Third week Drop/Add period for fall semester endds


First Week Estimated date for fall refunds to students


Second Week Tuition bills sent out for spring semester
Second Week Spring Award letters are sent to students to be signed and returned
Third Week Recommended target date for students to complete their financial aid arrangements for spring semester
Third Week 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 scholarshipped 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. The students are billed and scholarshipped 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, 13 for M.F.A. students and seven for G.D.P. in performance). Any credits taken over that maximum number of credits are billed and scholarshipped 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 parent’s 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 a less than full time number of credits. Students are responsible for being aware 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, they are no longer eligible for any federal loan aid (Direct Unsubsidized Loan and Direct Grad PLUS Loan). They also become 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, they are considered to have withdrawn for the purposes of federal financial aid.  If the student has taken out federal loans, they will be reported to the federal government as a withdraw and their loan grace period will start as of their last date of attendance.

Repaying Student Loans

When a student graduates or drops below half-time status, their 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 program and the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service. For more information on these two programs and for student loan repayment information in general, please see the Student Loan Repayment Guide (PDF).

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