not a teacher
I would assume that he graduated in 1930. To me, there's no indication that he dropped out.
I think he was merely amused by the idea that the Depression put artists, who traditionally lead lives of irregular employment, on a similar footing with the rest of the workforce, rather than being outsiders.
The Works Progress Administration was established in 1935. I think the speaker was just approximating the date as he remembered it.
Student or Learner