FCI vs. CIA, and debt involved

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by markhopkins, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. markhopkins

    markhopkins

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    Hello all,

    I am seriously interested in attending culinary school, and have narrowed my choices down to The French Culinary Institute in NYC and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. I have always enjoyed to cook and the restaurant "foodie" scene in NYC - thats why I am considering this career change. I have no prior experience in a professional kitchen. I'm 31 years old and anxious to get my career change rolling. I think I would be better served at CIA since it's a 2 year program and I could learn at a slower pace compared to FCI, which is a 6 month program. However, CIA requires 6 months experience in a real kitchen preparing food and it costs around $60k. FCI, on the other hand, doesn't require any prior experience in a kitchen and the cost is around $40k. I would need to take a full loan package since I don't have any savings. I am concerned with coming out of school with such a heavy debt load, especially considering that line cooks make around $25k/year and in NYC (where I want to work) that is barely enough to eke by, much less have any money left to pay off loans. Would I be better served in the long run by going to CIA and taking on more debt or entering FCI - which is earlier entrance and I would have less debt? Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. culinarygeek

    culinarygeek

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    Ok, here is what you have to ask yourself. Do I have the time to invest in a 2 year program? Both schools are very good (I'm a CIA grad so I am partial to it), the cost in the long run is also a factor. I paid about $60,000 for 2 years (including housing) and took a king size loan out to do it. The best thing about using student loans is that you can use their deferrement options for several years after graduation (as well as while you are in school) in order to build a little nugget before having to begin paying. It allowed me to travel to Alaska, Italy, and Ireland, cooking all the way, then working for a year before starting a payment plan.

    Anyway, The FCI is, like you said, shorter, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is also in NYC, allowing you to work in NYC and go to school at the same time. CIA is 1 1/2 hours to NYC (One Way) by train, allowing you to work on the weekends in NYC. But there many places to work off campus in the area, if you want.

    But all things being equal, I was glad to have chosen the CIA, and it is paying off in spades now.

    Good Luck and God Speed.

    Chef Bill
     
  3. chefoncall

    chefoncall

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    There are many that can totally understand. I as well to my love for cooking to school. I approached it in a little different way. I began by saving a little bit here and there while working in the kitchen. I was lucky enough to get my feet wet doing saute. I began washing dishes on weekends while living at home then as the cooks began to descend on there cooking career I had done such a good job the chef promoted me to Saute cook. This was at a very nice country club. As a dishwasher I was able to make a little over $400 per week. Then when I was promoted to Saute line my pay increased. I slowly worked my way into school. I am know working as a Chef de Cuisine.