New Tuition Assistance Program Aspires To Reinvent Escalating Education Costs

Adaptistration People 150Rising tuition costs and crippling student debt continue to occupy the heart and minds of emerging classical musicians. But one major conservatory believes they have a solution to not only control costs, but begin easing them down for most students.

The Juiliard Institute plans to begin offering its students financial aid with repayment in the form of securing a percentage of their future earnings.

I spoke with Juliard’s vice president of finance and student services, Raven Proraté, about the program and she described it as a way to build lifelong partnerships with students.

We want our students to know that we’re supporting them, side by side, along every step of their career,” said Proraté. “Our new income sharing agreement is better than traditional scholarships because it means the schools offsets our increased risk by creating a revolving form of revenue over a student’s entire career span.”

According to Proraté, the school is sensitive to the need for structuring an income share agreement that only recovers a small percentage of revenue at the onset of their career but accelerates as their accomplishments grow.

“We like to describe the amount of income we recuperate as a soft float ratio,” described Proraté. “For the first decade following graduation, if they earn below a certain income level, the revenue share rate is fixed but it resets for everyone after that threshold based on a combination of increased income levels and/or time.”

An added benefit for the school is substantially lower alumni development costs, which Proraté described as a win-win for helping curtail tuition fees.

During the process of refining the program, we discovered the minimum level of contributed income we were expecting from graduates, including planned giving, could be entirely replaced by the income sharing program,” said Proraté. “This meant we could then downsize that entire department to the point of replacing it with a more efficient model of income verification and recuperation officers. As a bonus, it guarantees Juliard remains in constant contact with alumni!”

When asked if the school provides students with any sort of independent legal counsel prior to signing binding agreements that last the span of their entire professional music career, Proraté indicated the school eagerly provides the same level of guidance as existing financial aid programs.

We’re devoted to making sure the students understand how much this program benefits their desire to pursue a career as a classical musician,” said Proraté.

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About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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