How to Finance an MBA - 5 Ways to Pay Less Out of Your Own Pocket

Are your financial worries preventing you from picking your dream MBA abroad? Maybe we can offer some solutions you haven’t considered yet. In addition to applying for a scholarship or a student loan to finance your Master of Business Administration, other possibilities such as part-time work, assistantships or employer support can help pay for your graduate business studies. Before you select and apply for a finance opportunity, check and analyse carefully if it is the best solution for you.

So here are some insights about the most popular ways to finance your MBA studies:

1. Find the perfect MBA scholarship

Probably the most common type of financial assistance when it comes to paying for your MBA, or any type of degree for that matter, scholarships will provide students the opportunity to focus entirely on their studies. Some scholarships, however, come with some specific requirements, like a certain threshold for the grades obtained, a maximum time to completion and other performance-related conditions. Most MBA applicants search for a scholarship at their chosen university or business school where they plan to study.

Select an MBA and apply

Sometimes, candidates are instantly considered for a scholarship when they submit their applications to an MBA programme, but the school may additionally require an essay/letter of motivation.

A large number of merit-based scholarships are based on a first-come, first-served process, so it is recommended that you apply for an MBA as early as possible.

Some well-known scholarship providers

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, for example, provides financial assistance to about 70 percent of its current MBA students. Top-ranked Harvard Business School, one of the most prestigious in the world, has higher academic standards, therefore, it offers financial support to only 65 percent of its MBA students.

Top-ranked business schools in U.S. provide between 65 and 70% financial assistance to their MBA students, which is more than European business schools offer. On the other hand, an MBA programme in Europe can be significantly cheaper than one in the U.S., so the balance is pretty equal.

Have a look on Scholarshipportal where you will find a comprehensive collection of all scholarships available for studying worldwide, including for an MBA.

2. Student loans cover your costs

Although the term loan has a very bad connotation since the hit of the recent financial crisis, student loans are less intimidating than you might imagine. Usually, student loans are especially designed to cover study costs. Some cover only tuition fees, while others cover living expenses as well. A student loan has a much lower interest rate compared to regular loans and you’ll only start repaying it a certain period after your MBA graduation. This way, you’ll have time to find a good job and have a sable income to start paying back your debt.

Loans are provided by many banks in partnerships with governmental institutions, so make sure you inquire about those as well once you have decided on a certain MBA programme. Federal student loans available to graduate/professional students are all unsubsidized loans.

You should just take note of the fact that in the U.S. and in many other countries, international students who would like to take out loans will usually require a citizen or permanent resident to co-sign. Some European banks don’t charge any up-front commissions or early-payment redemption charges for student loans, so they require no security or guarantee from the student.

3. Combining an MBA degree with part-time work

Around a third of all MBA candidates consider taking a part-time MBA degree. While some consider a part-time MBA doesn’t offer the same benefits as a full-time MBA course, for some prospective MBA students, this is the most convenient choice, not to mention a great solution to lessen the cost of your studies. However, it seems that part-time MBA students are less focused on networking since they are already employed and are not interested in building any possible business contacts.

Specifically dedicated to working professionals, many universities and business schools offer part-time MBA’s and some of them can even be completely done as part of distance studies (online MBA). Yes, your online MBA will take longer to complete, but you’ll already have an impressive job experience to be show for it. However, one possible future advantage would be that your effort is bound to be appreciated and rewarded by your current or future employer.

Popular study destinations for an MBA degree:

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Good practices

In a business school from Vienna, for example, students meet Thursday through Sunday once every six to eight weeks. Between classes, students can make online exercises and read extra materials, and they can directly apply what they've learned in the workplace.

On the DistanceLearningPortal you can see what options you have for studying an MBA online, part-time at some of the best business schools in the world. Check out a few great universities offering online MBAs:

4. Teaching or a research assistant job

If graduating your MBA as soon as possible is your priority, then you can try to get a teaching assistant or a research assistant job with the same university where you are doing your MBA. This solution might not cover your costs completely, but it is definitely worth considering, as you would save both time and energy by having your workplace where you study. A teacher's assistant is responsible for providing support during lessons and helping the teacher calculate grades, keeping records and check students’ attendance. Teacher’s assistants also supervise students while in class and on field trips.

In the U.S., these work opportunities may lead to around 20,000 USD a year and are usually available after an MBA student has been enrolled for at least a semester.

5. Would you like your employer to pay for your MBA?

Certain employers will agree to cover a part or even the full tuition fee for your MBA programme, although this option is more frequent in the case of an EMBA (Executive MBA) rather than a traditional MBA. Obviously, a condition of your employer would be to work for them for some years after you finished your MBA or you might have to pay part of the covered fees back.

Some companies offer tailored MBAs in cooperation with popular business schools to their employees. So, it is definitely worth asking your employer, or even potential employer if that would be an option for them.

Generally, if your employer considers you are worth investing in and want to keep you within the company/organisation, most likely they will think it is cost-effective that you develop within an MBA programme. You will bring more benefits to the company and it will be more advantageous than to reinvest in a new and untried staff member. Not to mention that most companies can effectively deduce this investment in your education from their taxes.

Find MBAs worldwide

Don't let finances stand in the way of your dreams!

A combination of these solutions is also possible, like for example getting a research assistant job that would cover the living expenses and take a student loan to cover the tuition fee, but if you really want to study an MBA, there are solutions for you out there. Start inquiring and talking to people and make your dream come true!

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Check the available Masters and see which of the degrees match your background and interests. Start the application process by filling in your student profile. You will soon get contacted by one of our application counsellors who will assist you further. We’ll then apply on your behalf. Find out more about applying to a Master's degree with Studyportals

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