How to finance your MBA studies

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Completing an MBA can be a transformative experience, but it comes at a price. Tuition, accommodation, food and modest living expenses can total up to £100,000 per year for a student at a top business school. Even at the cheapest institutions, the fees alone can be as high as £50,000 for an MBA.

Many graduates report a strong return on investment, although the degree requires careful financial planning, says Emily Brierley, MBA recruitment and admissions manager at Cambridge Judges Business School.

“It’s a key part of your MBA preparation. It’s also an investment in your future, so think long term, not just [about] your first job,” she advises.

There are several sources of funding that students can use to pay for their education. they can combine personal savings with partial or full scholarships, corporate sponsorship and loans. “We recommend that students consider how they will fund their education before applying – and if their scholarship application is unsuccessful,” says Ashley Potter, spokesperson for Warwick Business School UK.

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If prospective students are considering studying abroad, advises Jan Hohberger, associate dean of the full-time MBA at Esade in Spain, they should first research the funding options available in their home country before exploring those offered by host business schools and universities. Use schools’ financial aid offices and try to connect with current students and alumni, he advises. “They will be able to explain their experience to you, guide you through certain processes and give you very useful advice.”

Scholarships

Schools generally offer three types of scholarships: competitive, merit-based, and need-based. The first type is awarded following a competitive application process. The University of Virginia Darden School of Businessfor example, offers seven competitive scholarship programs.

“They are designed to identify MBA candidates who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, professional achievement and high promise as responsible leaders with the potential to contribute to the life of the Darden community and the world at large,” says Whitney. Kestner, Darden’s senior director of admissions. .

Merit-based scholarships are awarded by a committee, usually within the admissions office, based on an applicant’s application and parameters and factors related to the promise they demonstrate, regardless of their financial situation.

Need-based scholarships and grants are awarded based on a student’s financial situation and are often offered in the hope of promoting diversity. Applications must be made after admission to a program.

The deadlines for the scholarships are, in many cases, different from those of the programme. This requires effective time planning, says Liam Kilby, associate director of MBA recruitment and admissions at the University of Oxford. Said Business School. “It’s also important to research the application requirements for each of these funding options,” he says. “Is there an essay involved, or something extra beyond what is required for admission to the course? Do they conduct scholarship interviews and, if so, when do they take place? »

Applicants at large will automatically be eligible to apply to most school options, but it’s worth researching to understand what might “require that level of extra effort to meet all of the application requirements.” , says Kilby.

The college system of some universities, such as Oxford, may provide additional funding opportunities. Several Oxford colleges have scholarships for incoming MBA students – in addition to those offered by Said – although applicants will have to compete with applicants from other majors.

Loans

The majority of students finance their MBA partly or entirely through a student loan provider. These include banks, finance companies, and even governments that lend to nationals of a particular country, while others work across multiple regions. Providers such as Prodigy, Future Finance and Lendwise specialize in student loans, although repayment terms and interest rates vary.

“If you know in advance that you will need financial support from this type of source, it is very important to engage in conversations with them at an early stage,” says Kilby. Most schools are hesitant to promote particular loan companies, although admissions teams offer general advice.

Some students are fully or partially sponsored by their employer. While sponsorship may simply mean that an employer allows students to take a one- or two-year sabbatical, some employers also offer financial assistance. Warwick Business School, for example, will provide students with detailed guidance on preparing a business case for sponsorship and how to demonstrate the benefits to their employer.

The number of company-sponsored MBA candidates applying to Oxford: Said has increased in recent years, says Kilby. “If your career plan involves returning to your existing company, it’s definitely worth having a conversation with them,” he says. “Some companies will have a clearer and more established stance on sponsorship than others, but we’ve also seen several applicants come in who were the first to receive financial sponsorship from their company.”

Personal savings

The age and experience profile of MBA students means that many have had the opportunity to accumulate savings before applying to a business school.

“While it is rare that someone has been able to amass enough savings to cover the full cost of attending business school, it is certainly common that a portion of tuition and living expenses can be covered in this way,” says Kilby. At Oxford: Said, the average MBA student is around 29 and worked full-time for five years before enrolling. “With potential financial support from family and friends, saving can go a long way toward helping you attend the target school,” adds Kilby.

Self-funded students pay annual tuition fees at the start of each year or can choose to pay in instalments, Potter tells Warwick Business School – adding that while this doesn’t change the cost, it can help with budgeting.

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