Last Updated: July 28, 2021
Candidates who choose to transition between careers or increase their earning potential will often find MBA to be the most popular and easiest option for them to choose from. But while having an MBA degree can boost one’s resume and provide them with a wide range of career opportunities, studying this business degree can be extremely expensive depending on the institution. Most top universities that offer MBA have a high cost of attendance along with other activities that can incur additional expenses. The cost for completing an MBA at top schools is generally above $100,000 whereas doing the course in public schools will be around half that amount. In an ideal scenario, candidates will be able to opt for financial aid that can help them traverse through the course.
It is best for candidates to find the right MBA program
by focusing on the practical aspects of enrolling along with the academic merit of the institution they are looking at. There are many ways in which candidates can fund their MBA courses before even considering private student loans. Though business schools require a substantial amount of investment, candidates will be able to avail themselves, public-funded loans, fellowships, scholarships, grants, etc. which will help their career growth without any debt.
Criteria for Getting Financial Aid for MBA
While the mid-range of attendance cost for an MBA can range between $50,000 to $100,000, in reality, top schools can even have an attendance fee up to $200,000. Receiving funds for the entirety of the amount will be tricky considering the number of candidates that apply every year and the academic merit of the candidates applying. Financial aid is also offered to candidates on a need-basis which often comes under the federal government and requires submitting the FAFSA.
The need-based scholarships are provided to candidates who come under a certain spectrum which can be calculated through the information candidates provide in the FAFSA. The amount they receive will depend upon the financial struggle the candidate is in and can even cover the full amount though this happens rarely. The merit-based aid that students can receive will be calculated on the basis of the candidate's previous GPA
and their GRE
scores. This can also include factors like the candidate’s career plans.
Financial Returns after Completing MBA
The reasons for choosing to do an MBA program can be different for different people. But considering the professional nature of the course, most students enroll for MBAs due to the monetary benefits they will receive after completing their course. This is also due to the fact that the course in itself is a financial investment. Candidates will have to receive job offers of the top range in order to even cover the cost of attendance they incurred during the course.
The pay gains of most candidates are seen to be increasing at an average rate of 34-40% when compared to their pre-MBA salaries. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report, there is a pattern of continual positive returns on investments made for the course. This pattern has been prevalent for the past 19-20 years irrespective of the economic conditions of the times. In a way, it is this promise of monetary returns that leads students to the course.
They found that on average MBA alumni recoup their graduate school investment within four years of graduation, depending on the type of MBA program they completed. In addition, more than 4 out of 5 MBA alumni who were surveyed shared that they were satisfied with their degree and the jobs they received after the course. The study also found that the vast majority of MBA alumni said their education was personally, professionally, and financially rewarding.
Types of Financial Aid for MBA
Due to the statistical evidence of monetary returns after the completion of the course, receiving financial aid for doing an MBA is relatively easy when compared to other graduate programs. Candidates will be able to combine different kinds of financial aid to meet the full cost of their education thereby not having to move on to a career with debt. The different types of financial aid available are-
- Need-Based Scholarships
- Merit-Based Scholarships
- Federal/Personal Loans
- Employer-Funding/Loan-Forgiveness Programs
If candidates are unable to cover their entire educational expenses through the different forms of aid available, it is always possible for them to do internships and part-time jobs during the duration of the course to cover their expenses. MBA students will find that getting internships and other part-time jobs will be relatively easier compared to other courses of study. This will also be a great addition to the candidate’s resume.
Fellowships for MBA
Candidates will be able to get fellowships irrespective of whether they are doing a part-time, full-time, or executive MBA. In order to receive fellowships, candidates will have to apply as early as possible through the school they have enrolled in. The few of the fellowships available for MBA students are-
- Knight-Hennessy Scholars Fellowship- This fellowship is offered to graduate students internationally while they study at Stanford University. The eligibility criteria for the fellowship do not include age/field of study requirements but requires the candidate to be enrolled in Stanford University with a Bachelor’s degree from the US. The funding includes all aspects of education along with the provision of receiving opportunities in training for leadership and mentorship.
- Forte Fellows Program- This fellowship is specifically for MBA students doing part-time, full-time, and executive MBAs. It is provided only for women who have enrolled in one of Forte’s partner schools. Candidates will be able to apply for the fellowship through their school after which they will be selected by their own school based on their merit. They also offer exposure to the most prominent companies in the field thereby letting the candidates thrive even after the course has been completed. The fellowship offers $25,000 or an equivalent of half the tuition fee for eligible candidates.
- Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans- This fellowship is offered only for immigrants and the children of immigrants including green card holders, refugees, DACA recipients, etc. that are pursuing MBA in the US. There will be a total of only 30 fellowships every year and they provide selected candidates with $90,000. The selection criterion is based only on merit with the fellowship being offered to only candidates who are 30 years or younger while applying.
Scholarship Types for MBA
There are many different types of scholarships
available for students to take advantage of. For example, schools offer need-based and merit-based scholarships. Many business schools provide a substantial amount of money to students through scholarships. In fact, Poets & Quants did a study in 2014 and found that the top 25 business schools awarded almost $230 million in MBA scholarships a year.
Other organizations also offer scholarships, so be sure to explore opportunities outside of schools. There are also scholarships offered by other organizations such as women in business, minorities in business, international students, veterans, or specific industries/fields. A few of the non-profit organizations that provide scholarships based on different criteria are-
- Group O, a Hispanic-owned business
- The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation
- The National Society of Hispanic MBAs
- The National Black MBA Association
- Reaching Out, an organization for MBA students who are LGBT or allies
University Scholarships for MBA
Top business schools will almost always have a provision for providing their candidates with scholarships. Out of these schools, there are also universities that offer candidates full scholarships based entirely on their merit or need. Full scholarships will comprise funds for the cost of attendance, hostel expenses, additional academic expenses, etc. Some of the universities that provide full scholarships are-
- Vanderbilt University- Candidates either receive a scholarship for $25,000 or are offered full scholarships based on their performance in the course and previous academic merit.
- Duke University- This university offers a merit-based scholarship called the Keller Scholarship based on the performance of the candidate in the course. It is a full scholarship provided only to the best students on the campus.
- Stanford University- The business school under Stanford University offers scholarships to students from different backgrounds. The university also offers up to $160,000 for MBA Fellows who will have a contract of working under them for 2 years after course completion.
Industry Scholarships for MBA
Candidates who are sure of the field they want to work in and specialize in during their MBA will be able to find scholarships that are specific to their field. The different fields can be strategy, consulting, leadership, marketing, taxation, etc. There will be scholarships available that pertain to each of the specializations available MBA which the candidates can apply to as long as they are sure of the field they want to specialize in. Though these are mostly not full-scholarships, candidates will be able to cover as much as they can by making use of small scholarships they can get.
Employer Scholarship for MBA
Due to the professional nature of the degree, most candidates who approach MBA will do so while already pursuing a career. Such candidates will have the opportunity of being funded by their employers or corporation if they excel in the work assigned to them. This scholarship can take the form of tuition reimbursement along with a basic minimum allowance per year as long as the candidate can complete the course within the said time. The details regarding this can be obtained by contacting the HR department of the company they work in.
Federal and Private Student Loans for MBA
that can be taken for educational purposes can be either in the form of federal loans with an overall low interest rate or private loans. Federal aid
is provided by the government and is provided on a need-basis requiring candidates to fill in the FAFSA form for the procedures. The amount for federal scholarships is based on the need of the candidate though their merit will also be considered in the process. Federal student loans that candidates will be able to get are in the form of-
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct PLUS Loans
- Direct Consolidation Loans
Private loans are opted by students who have been unable to procure federal loans and have a high interest rate. It has to be paid back immediately after the course has been completed, unlike federal loans which provide candidates with a time gap before they have to start paying. Private banks and institutions that are most popular among candidates for loans are Earnest, Education Loan Finance, College Ave, Sallie Mae, and Discover.
Loan Forgiveness Programs
Candidates who are seeking financial aid from the federal government or state government will be able to be part of loan forgiveness programs on the basis of their financial needs and debt. It is generally only the government-based loans that have a chance of being forgiven. Though certain private loans have this feature, it is rarely put into action. Programs like Forgiveness with Income-Based Repayment, Forgiveness with Pay as you Earn, etc. are all options candidates can choose from for their loans to be forgiven as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.
Finding the Right Financial Aid
Candidates who start looking for financial aid will be surprised to find that for a program like MBA, every institution and organization will be offering at least one form of scholarship or aid that the student can benefit from. This can come from the institution they studied in earlier, the community they belong to, federal scholarships, etc. Though the sources are many, it is to be understood that the number of candidates that apply for all these scholarships is also huge in number.
Most universities and business schools will have the comprehensive detailing of their financial aid policies and funding listed for the perusal of aspiring candidates. It is best for candidates to sift through these listings before they look for external sources of funding. They will always be able to apply for fellowships and scholarships irrespective of whether their university provides them aid. It is recommended that candidates who rank average in academics look for multiple aids than one single source since the latter option will narrow down the possibility of getting full funding most of the time.
Candidates will also be able to approach their school to know the most popular private loan among the students so as to not go for high-interest options and eliminating the number of hours required for research. Ideally, candidates should keep the option of private loans as a last resort since the debt it incurs after course completion can drag the candidate down in their career prospects due to the burden of huge interest rates.
Loans are often available to both students within the US and international students. For international students, there is the International Student Exchange & Study Abroad Resource Center, which provides information regarding financial aid. In addition to financing information, this website provides a lot of other advice, such as selecting a US school, the application process for school, and preparing for what different states are like.
Other Financing Resources
There are many financial resources available for candidates in the long run. Although an MBA is a large investment, all these financing opportunities make it possible for students to attend their target school. Starting the application process early on and examining financing options to fully take advantage of all the opportunities out there will often let the student study by paying a bare minimum as a fee.