Healthcare, Legal, Money, & Emergency Issues

Student Loans

If you took out student loans to help pay for college, it's never too early to start to plan how to pay them back. There are many repayment plans, and it pays big money to make sure you choose the right one for you. Note that you have to do the research on the best plan, and choose it; the loan servicers are not going to suggest the best plan that will save you money, so take the time to make sure you know what's going to work for you.

Start witht the Federal Student Loan website. If you have federal loans, this is going to be the best source of information. There are many plans, so read through all of them carefully and make sure you understand all of the implications of each plan. Where you work and how much money you are earning matters when paying back your loans. You may find that, if you have significant loans, it may be cost effective to look for jobs that allow you to qualify for specific plans. Many Tyler students find themselves working for nonprofits or teaching in schools; if this is you, pay particular attention to the Public Services Loan Forgiveness plan. Just make sure you are aware of all the rules (rule #1 is "don't miss a payment!") in order to qualify for this program.

Picking the best repayment plan can save you significant money.  If you borrow $10,000 at 6.8% interest, you can end up paying back up to anywhere between $13,000-$15,000 depending on how long and which plan you choose. So it can pay to choose the best plan. You can see the difference in payment plans by using the online loan calculator.

And if you have variable interest rate private loans, make sure you watch the interest rates on those and pay them off as quickly as you can. They can get quite expensive if the interest rates go up.

Health Care

Since 2014 individuals have been able to enroll in new insurance plans offered in conjunction with the Affordable Healthcare Act (often refered to as "Obamacare"). Generally, you need to enroll during the open enrollment periods, which are usually November - February. The only way to enroll at another time is to experience a "life changing event," including:

  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Adopting a child or placing a child for adoption or foster care
  • Moving to a new residence
  • Gaining citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S.
  • Gaining or continuing status as a member of an Indian tribe or an Alaska Native shareholder.
  • Leaving incarceration
  • For people already enrolled in Marketplace coverage: Having a change in income or household status that affects eligibility for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reductions

More information about how to take advantage of the new healthcare mareketplace ("exchange") is here.  If you are 26 years old or younger, and your parent(s) has health insurance, it may be most affordable to stay on their plan until you turn 27.

To help you purchase health insurance, there are tax credits available through the Advance Premium Tax Credit. In order to help you actually pay for insurance, the credit can be applied directly to your monthly premiums, so you get the lower costs immediately. Savings depends on income and family size and income (there's a chart here). The lower your income, the higher your savings will be, and if you have a very low income, you will likely be eligible for the medicare expansion, which is currently just being implemented in Pennsylvania. If you are/will be living in another state, it depends on if your state accepts the expanded Medicare.  For more information, including links to healthcare exchanges for states other than Pennyslvania, visit the Federal Healthcare website.

Intellectual Property and Copyright

Intellectual Property (IP: a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.) is a complex issue for artists. If you're creating and selling work, or adapting images you find online, you should educate yourself around the issues of Intellectual Property. This is always changing, so this will just be a list of resources for you to do this. Remember that it's imporant to consider: many artist have found large companies stealing and mass-producing their designs without attribution or compensation, and artists have gotten in trouble for resusing images (most famous example: Shepard Fairey).

Copyright protection on your work is automatic; however, you need to register your copyright in order to be able to sue someone from copying your designs. There is a fee involved, but it is modest; it makes sense to do that if you are selling items with your design like pins or prints or distinct mugs. You should be able to fill out the online forms yourself. There's another general set of FAQs here.

Penn Law had a student clinic for IP issues: Detkin Intellectual Property & Technology Legal Clinic. The student lawyers in the clinic help artists at low or no cost.


Other Money & Legal Issues

Estate Planning

When you're young, you don't really think about planning ahead, but it's often really important. The Visual Artists Guide to Estate Planning is a free downloadable PDF guide to organizing you money now and in the future.

Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia

The Arts and Business Council works with connectors and community builders to lead, serve and inspire a more creative region. Culture and creativity are built into everything we do, from the way we envision new opportunities and evaluate outcomes to the way we collaborate across programs and cultivate deep partnerships. They also facilitate Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, which helps artists with low cost legal work.

Fractured Atlas

Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that serves a national community of artists and arts organizations. Programs and services facilitate the creation of art by offering vital support to the artists who produce it. They help artists and arts organizations function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more, all in a context that honors their individuality and independent spirit. Fractured Atlas can help you run your business more efficiently, with more, better resources at your fingertips. That means you’ve got more time, energy, and money to dedicate to making art.

Craft Emergency Relief Fund+ Artists' Emergency Resources (CERF+)

CERF+ accomplishes its mission through direct financial and educational assistance to artists working in craft disciplines including emergency relief assistance, business development support, and resources and referrals on topics such as health, safety, and insurance. CERF+ develops, promotes, and maintains resources for emergency readiness and recovery that benefit all artists. CERF+ also advocates, engages in research, and backs policy that supports artists' careers. CERF+ is working with partner organizations to build a better safety net for artists across the United States

Artist Help Network

This website is based on the Appendix of Resources of Caroll Michels' book How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul (New York: Henry Holt & Company). Michels is a career coach and artist-advocate (  This is not necessarily an endorsement of the book, but the website is a helpful source of free advice, as well as sample simple legal forms artists may need.


Natural disasters happen. Life happens. Sometimes stuff just doesn't go according to plan. The best thing to do is plan ahead; CERF+ has resources to help you do that. But if the unthinkable happens, here are some great resources to help you, compiled by NYFA:

  • Alliance of Artists Communities Emergency Funds for Individual Artists: The fund disburses mini-grants of up to $1,000 to artists who have already been accepted and scheduled for a residency, but who would not otherwise be able to participate due to a sudden change in circumstances. The Alliance also serves artists affected by natural disasters by mobilizing its network of residency programs to offer residencies to eligible artists. This process is activated as-needed and will be announced by the Alliance online, through CERF+, and throughout its network.
  • Artists’ Charitable Fund: Artists who need financial assistance because of medical, fire, or another disaster should email Fund Coordinator Judy Archibald at or call her at (970) 577-0509.
  • Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. Financial Assistance: Provides emergency aid to professional fine artists and their families in times of sickness, natural disaster, bereavement, or unexpected extreme hardship.
  • CERF+ Emergency Financial Relief: Provides financial assistance for eligible artists who work in craft disciplines, and tips for safety and studio protection for artists of all disciplines.
  • Change, Inc: Provides one-time grants up to $1000 to artists of any discipline who are facing financial emergencies due to theft, eviction, disaster, health issues, etc. Applicants must provide evidence of established professional status; get full application information by calling (212) 473-3742.
  • Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (FAIC): The free Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel Mobile App is designed for anyone in need of practical advice for saving collections or items in the first 48 hours after a disaster. Additionally, the National Heritage Responders Hotline can be reached 24/7 at (202) 661-8068 for conservation advice and referrals.
  • Hero Initiative Grants: Provides assistance for eligible comic book writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, or letterers on a work-for-hire basis.
  • Joan Mitchell Foundation Emergency Grant: Emergency support to artists working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, and/or drawing after natural or man-made disasters.
  • The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation Emergency Grant: Provides interim financial assistance to qualified artists whose needs are the result of an unforeseen, catastrophic incident, and who lack the resources to meet that situation.
  • The Haven Foundation: Gives financial assistance to provide the temporary support needed to safeguard and sustain the careers of established freelance artists, writers, and other members of the arts and art production communities who have suffered disabilities or experienced a career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or personal catastrophe.