As part of our on-going plan to integrate digital technology into all aspects of the curriculum, the School of Architecture requires all second year students to have a laptop computer for their spring semester coursework.
Building upon the School of Architecture's decades-long reputation for excellence in hand drawing and model making, the school is committed to the ways in which digital technology can enhance a students education and enrich fundamental design issues presented in the design studios. These include ideas of site and building integration, research/analysis/synthesis, use of materials, quality of light and spatial experiences, to name a few. Working with digital applications provides a designer with additional tools to address issues of an aesthetic, contextual, environmental, theoretical or graphical nature in an innovative, timely and professional manner.
It is anticipated that second year students will have a wide range of digital experience coming into their spring semester--ranging from no previous experience with computers to extensive experience with computers. However, no prior experience is required—students will be introduced to the basic skills and concepts necessary to successfully use computers in design studio. Topics will include digital fabrication, 2D drawing, 3D modeling, building information modeling, visualization, diagramming, parametric design, energy analysis and daylighting simulation.
The School of Architecture provides the following peripherals within the print room, digital fabrication lab and studio spaces in Cheever Hall: 11x17 inch printers and scanners, large-format plotters and scanners, laser-cutting machines, 3D printers, computer numerically controlled milling machines, daylighting sensors, touch-sensitive Wacom drawing tablets/computers and digital cameras.
Numerous discussions have been held with the MSU Financial Aid office to establish a procedure for the possible use of financial aid to purchase a computer. Students should realize that there are limits set by the federal government on the amount of student loans and grants receivable during any academic year which will likely determine how much aid, if any, may be used for a computer purchase. Not all students will qualify but students are encouraged to inquire about eligibility. Following are some options to secure financing for your purchase:
Option 1: Financial Aid: Federal Direct Student Loan (FDSL)
A student should schedule an appointment with a financial aid officer to determine whether or not the maximum loan limit for the current academic year has been reached. This meeting should determine how much aid, if any, a student would be eligible to receive. If it is determined that a student is eligible for financial aid, the Financial Aid office now requires that a student either first purchase the computer or secure a contract with a vendor or retailer in which the student agrees to purchase a computer. Once this contract or receipt is verified they will provide the financial aid.
The actual loan received from Financial Aid may be given through the FDSL program or through an alternative or unsubsidized direct loan program. While both loan programs do not require repayment until after graduation, a student should realize that with an alternative or unsubsidized loan the interest accrues while in school. If no payment is made in school the total loan amount will be greater than the original cost of the computer. At this point in the process one should follow the procedures for each loan type established by the financial aid office.
Option 2: Private loans
If not eligible for financial aid there are a number of options to explore to purchase a computer. The Financial Aid office does not need to be contacted to pursue any of the private loan options outlined below.
The University Bookstore sells notebook computers that come with an academic loan package. Like most loans these require monthly payments but for some students a series of monthly payments can alleviate the burden of coming up with a single lump sum payment. Typically these loan plans are offered by the computer manufacturer through the University Bookstore.
Many of the local computer stores have already established relationships with some of the banks in Bozeman to provide financing for their client's computer purchases.
A student may also directly contact any of the financial institutions--banks, savings and loans or credit unions--in this area or in one’s hometown regarding what types of loans may have available.
One additional option some students have used to finance their purchases has been to use credit cards. While this is an option, the interest rates on credit cards can often be quite high. As such, students are advised to proceed with caution if choosing this option. The purchase of a computer should not cause severe financial burdens for students or their families. It is important that to establish a budget for this purchase that fits one’s economic condition. A student should not feel the need to go deeply into debt to get the fastest most powerful computer--there are ways to purchase what you need and plan for future expansion with some features of a computer.