Actors who researched drama schools and classes in London already know that studying and learning drama is not cheap and unless you are lucky enough to have wealthy parents or family members that can help you out, most us have to find the money ourselves.
According to most recent data, students studying on a three-year course in the UK, including drama schools, sometimes have to find up to 40,000 GBP to cover fees, living expenses, accommodation and travel. That is an awful amount of money, but it shouldn’t put you off following your dream of becoming an actor.
The good thing about London, even though it’s extremely expensive, at least it’s not as expensive as studying drama in the US. In America, just the degree alone will usually cost you anywhere from $80,000 up to $200,000. With books, travel, accommodation, the whole four year studying may come close to $300,000 total.
Back to London. There are ways to help you find the funds to pay for your acting classes, drama school training and otherwise fund your dream. With a little bit of effort and thinking outside of the box – we’re creatives, so that part we can do – it is possible to raise a good portion of the money you will need.
Below, I will give you some tips and information on the most popular ways to pay for drama school training, because drama school is the most expensive option for an actor to choose to learn acting. If none of the below are viable for you, then you can take the approach we’ve outlined in the book Acting With No Experience, and just get out there without drama school training.
Now, here are a few suggestions and handy links to get you going with funding drama school degree. I also hope this will give you some inspiration as well as find quick ways to cover the costs of studying.
How to Pay for Your Drama School Training
(7 possible options)
1. Student Loans
If you have chosen to go to university or college to study drama, there are student loans available to help you pay for fees and to get some financial support for living expenses. There is a full package available to students that covers tuition fees and maintenance loans. The amount can vary depending on your circumstances.
For example, if you are living with your parents you may get less than someone who is living independently. Your loan is not paid back until you have graduated and are earning a certain amount of money. It also depends on where you are studying as you will get more for tuition and so forth if you are studying in London.
It also depends if you are studying with a private course provider as you will get less for this than if you were studying on a public course. These links will explain in detail what you could receive, where you need to apply and how much you will need to pay back after you have graduated and gotten a job.
There’s some great advice here – very applicable tips regarding paying back loans, combating the myths regarding student loans and gives overall advice on student loans in general. Money Saving Expert website is pretty good in general for anybody who wants to be more financially conscious and find ways to save money, so check it out further.
2. Career Development Loans
A Career development loan is an option for students that are not studying on a degree course at drama school. They are low cost loans that the government pay the interest for you while you are studying.
The loans are affiliated with the government. They are the far better than just a traditional loan due to the fact you do not pay the interest while you are studying. The government have information on career development loans and information on how to apply for them here.
3. Studying and Working
Although studying will take up a lot of your time it is still possible to work some hours as well. Many students work a few hours at weekends and some take evening jobs as well. Remember you also have trimester holidays which will free you up to take temporary work as well.
Even earning 50GBP a week will help towards your materials and food expenses and during term holidays it is possible to double, if not triple this amount. Lots of companies take on students during holidays as students do not mind temporary work contracts and are usually available to take on seasonal work during the summer or busy periods such as Christmas.
It’s a good idea to make contact with local student bars, local shops and local venues and get your CV in before term time starts. Many universities also employ students for various job roles as well throughout term time and they will advertise these positions on their university website.
Make sure you keep an eye on these as the positions get filled quite quickly. There is also a website dedicated to jobs for students that you can find here.
4. Find Sponsors
This is where your imagination comes in. Start thinking about getting individuals to ‘sponsor’ your training. This can include family members, friends, businesses, media and anyone else you can think of. To do this you need to get people to believe in you and to become aware of your talents. A short video of you performing and a well written letter or email can get you a lot of notice.
If can find 100 people to sponsor you just 50GBP a year you will raise 5000GBP. That maybe half your tuition fees paid. You need to think of what you can offer your sponsor back in return.
You can give them an end of term letter with a report on your grades, invite them all in groups to watch any performances you are giving and send them photos of yourself throughout the year performing. Some companies might sponsor you if you wear a tee-shirt with their logo on during any public events that you take part in for example. Use your imagination.
Lots of people will believe in you if you are passionate and believe in yourself. There is also a database of sponsors targeted towards the performing arts. You can find that here.
Many prestigious drama schools offer scholarships for talented students and have details of these on their website. Each drama school has their own rules for meeting the required criteria. Dance and Drama Awards also offer scholarships to talented students.
DaDA hold auditions for these scholarships and students are not expected to pay the money back afterwards. For details of DaDA and what they offer visit this link.
To keep up with the latest news, applications and success stories regarding scholarships for actors visit this page.
6. Charities, trusts and foundations
There are a vast amount of charities, trusts and foundations that will also help students and individuals in the performing arts. Some offer bursaries, grants towards tuition fees, help with audition costs and many others. The best way to see if they can help you is to contact them all individually.
Write a letter to them and make it as personal as possible. If you have been offered a place at drama school but your finances might prevent you from taking the place offered then tell them so in the letter. Tell them why you think you would benefit from some assistance and why you think you can achieve at drama school.
For sources of drama charities and trusts visit this page.
7. Personal Fundraising
Fundraising is not as difficult as it seems. For example, you can organize a raffle at your local theatre if you can get them to donate a free ticket as a prize for example. People are likely to participate in fundraising for a good cause. If you have friends that have a band and you can find a venue, see if they will do a gig for you.
Perhaps you could run a marathon or do a bungee jump and get sponsorship money. As long as you are clear to people that you are raising the money to get yourself through drama school most people will support whatever event you are doing. You could even ‘auction’ yourself off for the day to the highest bidder and do chores around someone’s house if they bid the highest.
There are numerous ways to fundraise so don’t be afraid to try anything that might draw in the crowds.
As you can see there are ways for you to pay your drama school studies, you just need to be prepared to get yourself out there, apply for whatever is on offer and don’t give up. Lots of pennies quickly become pounds so good luck and follow your dreams.
However, in some cases, none of these ways on funding drama school training may be a good option. In that case, my best advice to put off drama school training altogether (at least for now), and instead focus on your acting career from the get go, without going to a reputable drama school.
If you’re starting acting with no experience and training, read this book and then take small actions that don’t cost you a lot of money. Get a survival day job, join a cheap acting class in London, start auditioning actively for anything to build up your credits and move forward this way. Try to get a talent agent and a manager at some point.
After progressing in this direction, you may have saved up enough money after 1-2 years for a drama school credit, plus you will also have a lot more experience and credits, will be a much better actor and – most importantly – may not even need to go to a drama school at all.