Hello, I posted the same thing on a different forum and I hope I could get some help here as well, so... let's get to the point!
My name is Matt, I'm 19 years old and well... I'm an aspiring animator-to-be. I've been drawing stuff since forever and about a year ago I started getting more into figure drawing, gesture drawing and all these kind of stuff. It is my biggest dream and a life goal to study in the United States. However, I'm a little bit torn about that and I think I'm having a little problem here which I hope you'll be able to help me solve.
Basically, I'm from Poland but living in Ireland at the minute and just as I mentioned before - it has always been my biggest dream to study in the U.S. I've been searching through different schools across the whole country and after a while I found the so-called "Harvard of animation" being obviously CalArts. I've got really into the school, I've been preparing my portfolio towards a direction they might accept. Ever since I found about CalArts I became absolutely obsessed with the school but we all know that it's not the cheapest school out there, so a financial barrier is pretty clear here. Well, to be honest, that didn't really stop me from trying to collect enough to fund my education there. I've been saving up, I e-mailed them about the possible scholarship and some time ago I even started my own crowdfunding campaign to get me closer to my goal. Nonetheless, even though they replied that a scholarship is possible indeed and very competitive blah blah blah, I got also informed that it can only cover about less than half of a yearly tuition(I assume it'd be around 20k$ yearly) and their scholarships are only merit-based.
I'm not exactly in the best financial, health and family situation, thus although I'm trying to collect money for CalArts, I don't think I'll be able to colelct other 200k$ that they require to pay once you're accepted. That's why I've been trying to find some other possibilites and great schools out there, both in the U.S. and in Europe. So, I found The Animation Workshop based in Denmark and from what I've heard and read - this a wonderful school that even has the same Character Animation program as CalArts and it is FREE for E.U. students therefore this is a great plus. There is, however, a language barrier to break 'cause despite being taught about animation in English, I'd still have to live in Denmark for a couple of years and learn their language, what is more - I'd have to find a job in order to get by there somehow. So that's one thing.
The other animation course I found is based in London at Royal College of Art. I would have to pay a bit if I got accepted, but it's just easier to cope with that situation in terms of stuff like getting employed, getting a loan whatsoever. Nevertheless, they don't offer Character Animation itself but just Experimental or Documentary Animation and I don't think that's exactly what I wanna study.
And the third school I'm considering is actually, again, located in the U.S. It's Rochester Institute of Technology and they have this Film and Animation program that I think could be quite enjoyable and fun to learn. And they also state that they offer financial help for international students that's both merit-based AND need-based. Since I can't get a U.S. co-signer to get a loan for my education, they only source of help I can rely on is what the school has to offer and what I'm able to collect myself. However they also highlight that the scholarships do not cover the full tuition, so I'm not exactly sure how much they could actually give. I know this whole text seems kinds messy and stuff but the option with R.I.T. is the one I feel could be a great replacement for CalArts, cause first of all - it is a "dream come true" for me('cause it's American) and it is a superb school. However, there's a lot of uncertainty and kind of adventure here because I could always somehow manage to pay for the first year of education but then take a break and in the meantime find other ways to pay for the other 3 years that would be left. Like I said, very risky and adventurous. I am, however, able to commit to that.
And lastly, I recently found out that actual Harvard also offers a Film and Animation program. Gettin' in could be an obstacle here but financing not really since Harvard is known for offering even full-tuition scholarships for both domestic and international students. The only problem here is that I haven't heard much about animation at Harvard and their program doesn't appear on sites like animationcareerreview so I just don't really know if it's so good. I know this is Harvard, but having a brand of a name doesn't really assure actual quality of teaching.
Please, guys. I'm begging for your help. I have never been so lost in my entire life and I just don't know what to do.
Every school has its pros and cons but I'm just looking for some guidance here.
Thanks for reading that rambling text of mine and I hope you have a nice day!