Pursuing your MBA is one of the best investments you can make for your career. An MBA degree will not only open the door to new job opportunities and a powerful network of fellow business professionals, but you will also see high return on your investment in terms of post-MBA salary increase.
However, these programs can cost over $50,000/year (not including housing and living expenses), which is a pretty steep price for many potential applicants. Don’t let this price tag intimidate you! Your dream MBA program can still be within your reach as long as you understand your options for financing the degree. Here are some ways to consider paying for your MBA:
Develop a Savings Strategy
The first way to offset some of the cost of your degree is to begin to save as early as possible. It is critical that you begin setting money aside for your degree while you are still working. Most MBA candidates will assume roles as full-time students, and it can be difficult for many to adjust to life without a constant income coming from a job. Therefore, it is essential that you begin saving as much as possible while employed and try to cut down your expenses as much as you can while living as a student.
Another way you could try to finance your MBA is by getting a little bit more creative with your money. You might consider following the doctrines of Robert Kiyosaki and his “Pay Yourself First” method. Kiyosaki believes that letting money sit in your savings account is the quickest way to lose value on your earnings. Kiyosaki says that “in order to be rich, you must have the self-discipline to pay yourself first,” meaning that you use your income to invest in cash-flowing assets before covering your bills or spending for fun. In this manner, you are able to create a consistent cash flow that you can continue to invest.
Private Student Loans
Another way to finance your MBA is by taking out a loan. By contracting a private lender, you are able to develop a personalized loan plan. Citizens Bank and CommonBond have specific programs for lending to MBA students.
However, many private loan options require a U.S. co-signer, which can be difficult for international students. More than 80% of MBA candidates are not approved for loans because they have no credit history in the country where they plan to study. International students moving to the U.S. for study are also not eligible for Federal student loans. Some schools, such as Harvard Business School, have begun to offer private educational loans that do not require a U.S. cosigner. It is best to consult with the financial aid department of your MBA program in order to understand their loan options.
Companies like Prodigy Finance offer non cosigner loans aimed at assisting international students matriculate to graduate programs abroad. The company was founded by 3 INSEAD alumni who experienced first-hand how difficult it is for international students to obtain loans. They have assisted over 19,000 students finance their Masters degrees.
Fellowships & Scholarships
A fellowship is similar to a scholarship in that it doesn’t need to be repaid. Many MBA programs will offer fellowships and scholarships for students based on merit and/or need. For instance, 50% of Harvard Business School students receive fellowships (need based) of about $40,000 per year.
Most graduate business schools offer merit-based scholarships for students based on previous achievements, GMAT scores, or what the admissions committee believes the candidate will be able to contribute to the class. For international students studying in the U.S. click here for a more extensive list of scholarship opportunities specifically for students coming from abroad to the US. This link offers a whole database of scholarships for international students studying around the world.
There are also many scholarship opportunities available for minority populations and women. The Forte Foundation is one such program specifically dedicated to helping women enroll in MBA programs. The program has partnered with b-schools around the world to award over $226 million in scholarships to 10,000 Forte Fellows.
Many employers recognize the value of obtaining an MBA degree and encourage their employees to pursue higher education. Select companies will offer MBA program scholarships where they will fund your MBA program in part (or even in full!) so long as you return to their company to work after graduation. Often, the scholarship requires maintaining a certain degree of academic standing as well. For instance, Google employees get up to $12,000 tuition reimbursement for the pursuit of higher education, so long as you receive a B or better in all of your courses. Speak to your company’s HR department and see if they participate in tuition assistance (make sure you understand the scholarship requirements before you agree).
Look for Country-Specific Financing
If you are an international student, one suggestion is to research scholarships/fellowships that target students from your country. You can consider scholarships from your country’s government for students getting MBA abroad. For example, the Orange Tulip Scholarship of Brazil offers scholarships (full or partial) to Brazilian students who aim to pursue their MBA degree in Holland. Additionally, programs such as the U.S. Fulbright Scholarship for international students are designed to encourage international students to study in the US. Finally, your MBA program may offer specific scholarships for people from your home country as well.
MBA and part time work
Around ⅓ of MBA students work part time while pursuing their degree. For international students, it is easiest to try and find work within your University’s campus, although these positions are limited. For instance, if you study in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, you are not allowed to accept any employment outside the campus for a period of 9 months. Additionally, you may work more than 20 hrs/week if you have an on-campus job.
A popular on-campus job option is obtaining a classroom role. Many business schools can offer a limited number of positions as Teaching Assistants or Graduate Assistants. A Graduate Assistant would work alongside faculty members and participate in research, administrative, and educational roles.