Among the more beneficial student aid programs, one that flies under the radar is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The program cancels outstanding student debt for those who work for the government or nonprofits if they have been making on-time payments for 10 years. President Trump’s proposed budget wants to eliminate the program entirely.
This decision would impact both key stakeholders throughout the nonprofit performing arts field: arts administrators and artists.
Currently, if a musician is able to secure a position at a nonprofit professional orchestra, s/he can qualify for PSLF. Considering how much it costs to attend a major conservatory or school of music, that’s a big deal:
- Juilliard School tuition: more than $41,000/year
- Rice University tuition: more than $42,000/year
- Northwestern University tuition: more than $50,000/year
That’s just tuition so when you add room and board, books, expenses, etc. that figure skyrockets.
Those looking to pursue a career in arts administration don’t fare any better.
- American University’s Arts Management Master’s Program tuition: more than $44,000/year
- Bolz Center for Arts Administration – Wisconsin School of Business nonresident tuition: more than $32,000/year
The Washington Post published an article by Emma Brown on 5/18/2017 that reports the proposed cut is designed in part to help fund expanding school choice voucher initiatives.
Even more interesting is the potential conflict in that the school choice program is a pet priority of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a long-time arts advocate who routinely donates large sums to nonprofit performing arts organizations. It would appear that in order to fund the school choice program, she would be willing to inflict very real harm on a field that already has difficulty attracting and retaining administrative talent.
Lower talent pools mean lower earned and unearned income which means wealthy donors like her would need to be willing to step up their contributions to fill those revenue holes.
It’s a fascinating, and sobering, conundrum.