Originally Answered: Help choosing a career and a college to attend. many questions guidance counselor cant seem to help answer?
There are many careers in the art world that can give you a reasonable living:
Art teacher, art restorer, gallery owner or art dealer, art historian, museum curator, textile designer, costume or set designer for theaters or film, photographer, interior designer, animator, book illustrator, etc. If you look around you, everything you see was designed by an artist from the clothes you wear to the furniture in your room, to the packaging of every product you buy. If you're interested in art, then go for it.
As far as schools go, you might want to consider SUNY New Paltz. It has a a terrific, reasonably priced art program in a town just up the Hudson River from NYC. Another possibility is UMASS at Dartmouth, near Boston. Or MASSArt which is in downtown Boston, a great city to go to school in.
If you like a more formal program, try the University of Hartford Art School--Hartford isn't as big a city as the others, but it's still got some of the urban feeling you're looking for.
As far as financial aid goes, it doesn't matter who claimed you on their tax return because dependency for the FAFSA and dependency on a tax return are two different things. If your parents are divorced, you only have to include the information for the custodial parent--the parent who supplied the most support for you (not necessarily the one who has legal custody). This is usually the parent you live with, but not always. If you live with your mom, you would normally use her information but you would have to include her husband's information as well. If you live with your dad, you would use his. If you didn't live with either one, you would use the parent who most recently supported you.
You will definately be eligible for some student loans (usually $5,500 for a first year, full time dependent student). If his/her credit checks out, your parent(s) would also be able to take a PLUS loan for an amount up to the cost of attendance at your school.
You may also be eligible for a Pell grant of up to $5,500, but these are based on family income, so it would depend on your financial situation. In addition to federal loans and grants, your school may also offer you state grants, scholarships or work-study funding.
If money is a problem, and you plan to attend a public college, you may want to consider staying in-state. There is a huge difference between the aid that an in-state and an out-of-state student receives, and in most cases it's pretty hard to justify spending $30-40000 more just because you want to experience a little snow and an urban campus. You should also check out some private colleges. They may seem more expensive if you just look at the sticker price, but they usually offer much more in institutional aid, so often the bottom line can be equal or less than a public college. And don't forget to apply for lots of private scholarships--this can be a huge source of aid for college.
If your family is able to scrape together $500 or so, you may want to think about hiring a private college planning consultant. While most of the information about college planning and financial aid is available online for free, it takes a lot of time to find it, sort it all out, and figure out what it means. A private consultant can save you time and help you get the most aid possible, so often they are well worth the money. Just make sure you pick one whose primary business is college planning, preferably someone who is a CCFP, a Certified College Financial Planner. Stay away from investment managers who only do college planning as a sideline.