So, you did it! You got in to your dream MBA program and are on your way to business school…or, are you? Like many people who applied this year, you may have thought, “I’ll just get in first, and then I’ll worry about how in the world I am going to pay for it.”
As many of you already know, business school is quite expensive, with the top schools tuition tipping into six figures a year! So, how is one to pay for something like this, and what are your options?
- Company Sponsorship: Obviously, this is not offered to everyone, or even most people who end up going into an MBA program, however, it is always something to look into. This is especially true if you work at a large well-known (Fortune 500) company, as these are the companies that very often will sponsor MBA applicants, though often they recruit you, and not the other way around. However, if you have been with the same company for a number of years, have done good work, and believe you are on the executive track (or want to to be), it can never hurt to have a discussion and inquire. Full sponsorship from a large, well-known company? This is your best option.
- Loans: This is what most people do. If you don’t have enough savings (to be discussed more below), personal educational loans are the most common way people fund their business education. If you are going to take out educational loans though, be sure you know what you’re getting into in terms of student debt. Yes, hopefully upon graduation with an MBA you will be able to get a good job, pay off the loans quickly, and the interest and balance won’t be a problem, but an MBA degree is never a guarantee of a high-paying job, the degree simply provides you with better opportunity and likelihood of getting a high-paying job, post-degree, but it’s only an opportunity. Just know what you’re getting in to with any loan, educational or otherwise.
- Savings: For the handful of you who can self-fund your education, congratulations as you don’t really need to be reading this article. However, you may want to question if self-funding $100k a year for 2 years, is really the best strategy for your cash. I would say to anyone looking to self-fund the cost of an MBA or EMBA program, to make sure they examine the “sponsorship” option above. If you’ve made enough in your career to self-fund business school, I bet others have noticed your expertise in business too, and there just may be more options on the table.
- Outside scholarships: Alongside loans, scholarships are your best way to fund your education, especially if you don’t have savings and no one in your family is offering (or able) to help you fund your b-school pursuit. One of the best websites I’ve ever found for scholarships is Foundation Grants For Individuals Online, or http://gtionline.foundationcenter.org/ . This is an excellent resource listing over 6,000 grants one can apply for, based on a slew of differing criteria. Some grants won’t fit your story or background and goals at all, but others will, and for anyone seriously looking for money for school, this is the place to look first.
Overall, business school is expensive, but there are ways to manage the cost. I will be adding other articles in the coming weeks expanding on what I have started here, and in the meantime encourage you to explore these options. The more creative you are now, the more money you’ll save later, and your MBA will be your key to your future dreams.