1. Education Cost in the UK

It has been announced that as of 2012, a fee for a one year undergraduate course at any UK drama school or university is £9,000.

In Britain, a full-time degree is comprised of 3 academic years, which makes it £27,000 altogether. This does not include accommodation and study materials. And on top of that, there are additional expenses students have to consider: food, transport, equipment and so forth.

However, while the cost of study really is very high, it is now CHEAPER than it used to be. Before this law, some drama schools used to charge up to £4,000 per term, which would add up to £35,000 for three years.

2. Financial Aid in the UK

Student Finance England

This option is the most common and will cover the whole cost of tuition. If you’re a student in Britain looking to fund your acting training, one of the most popular options is financing all three years of studies with a Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance England (aka Student Loans Company Ltd. (later SLC))

Any United Kingdom or European Union citizen can apply for this loan. The way it works is SLC pays the whole amount to your drama school or university in three installments each year. Most people applying for these loans usually meet all the requirements and the rejection percentage is very low.

Additionally, students from low income households can also apply for Maintenance Grant and/or Maintenance Loan. You must be applying for a Tuition Fee Loan from SLC in order to be eligible for both of these.

Depending on your case, you can either get both or just the Maintenance Loan. The amount is being paid on a case by case basis, but most of the time, if you’re eligible, it will just about cover your accommodation costs.

Maintenance Grant doesn’t need to be paid back, while Maintenance Loan will have to be paid back after your studies, alongside your Tuition Fee Loan.

The good thing about taking out these loans is that APR is very low, there’s no deadline by when you have to pay out the loan and there’s no pressure. If you cannot return what you have borrowed in the period of 20 years, Student Loans Co Ltd. will just write it off.

Student Finance England websites:
– Scotland: Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS)
– England: Student Finance England
– Wales: Student Finance Wales
– Northern Ireland: Student Finance NI

Access to Learning Fund (from FSO)

While this loan will not help to fund your acting training, it might cover some of the costs or at least help students during their struggle at the time of studies. It can cover travel costs, materials, child care, internet costs and similar small-time expenses.

For more details, please visit Financial Support Officer website.

Borrowing money from banks

If you’re looking to do a post-graduate course (undergraduate courses aren’t eligible), you might be able to borrow money from a bank in the form of Professional and Career Development Loan. You should be cautious about these loans as their APR is much higher than those of SLC and terms and conditions are much more strict.

For more details, visit your local bank. As an example, here’s a link to Barclays Loans offer.

3. Education Cost in the US

If you’re a student in the United States of America looking for ways to fund your acting training, please know that education costs vary from place to place here. In general, one should expect to pay around $35,000 to $45,000 per year at a reputable drama school in the US.

Higher education in the US lasts 4 years, which adds up to a juicy six-digit number. In addition, there are costs for accommodation, study materials and other expenses, too. The bigger the school, the higher the cost.

However, unlike in the UK, most acknowledged colleges, drama schools and conservatories in America offer financial aid which also includes health care insurance. 

For comparison, take a look at Yale’s drama school tuition cost breakdown (per year), and for more detailed information, please go here.

As such, every college in the United States will offer their own type of financial aid in the form of scholarships to help fund your acting training. To learn about these, you’ll have to inquire at every drama school separately. Most of the time schools will let you know about these options as soon as you express your interest in applying.

4. Financial Aid in the US

Irene Ryan acting scholarships

Irene Ryan Foundation in Encino, California, is giving out scholarships to outstanding student performers.

These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty ‘Granny Clampett’ in The Beverly Hillbillies. All acting students in both Participating and Associate productions are eligible for consideration for these $500 regional scholarships.

For more information, please visit their website.

NYCDA scholarships

New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts has two types of scholarships: The Sanford Meisner Merit Award and The Mary Doyle Memorial Scholarship. In the school year of 2012-2013, NYCDA has awarded over $2,000,000 in scholarships.

For more information, please visit their website.

SAG John L. Dales scholarship fund

A full scholarship can be awarded to students from Screen Actors Guild John L. Dales scholarship fund. It’s a difficult one to get and you also must be an eligible member of SAG-AFTRA union.

For more information, please visit their website.

Additional financial aid

– Acting Scholarships
– Grants for Actors

5. More Advice on Funding

There are cases where none of these options, in both the UK and the US, are available to students trying to pursue their acting careers. In that case, you may want to try to come up with your own ways on how to fund your acting training in drama school.

One of the best options at this point is to put off your formal training for a while. Get a full-time job and start saving up money for your school. Use this time to act in student and indie films and small plays, gaining experience and raising your chance of being accepted into a drama school in the future.

Another option is to start raising funds for your education. It’s not easy and requires a lot of effort on your part, but the skill of raising funds will become very valuable later on in your acting career when you — as a struggling actor — will be trying to finance your own short films or a web series.

Try and come up with your own creative ways on how to make money during your free, off-work, time. If at all possible, incorporate your creative actor’s mind and skills into it.

Nowadays, there are a lot of performers out there trying to save up money by doing what they love best — acting, singing, dancing. If you become one of them, not only will this help you to achieve your financial goal, but you’ll become a better actor for it.