Whether you’re just completing your undergraduate studies or you’re a mid-career professional, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) could be the next step in preparing for an even brighter future. Employees who hold an MBA typically earn more than those with only an undergraduate degree. Also, the MBA can be a sign to company decision-makers that you’re serious about your career or that you’re ready for a senior position.
At Post University, we’ve provided a number of articles that cover the benefits of earning your MBA. There’s just one more point to consider: how to afford an MBA. No matter your current position, how to pay for MBA programs is a frequent concern. There don’t tend to be very many assistantships or fellowships for this particular degree program, and the programs can themselves be costly.
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How Much Does an MBA Cost?
The cost of earning an MBA can vary quite a bit depending on the school and program you choose. According to US News, many of the top schools cost upwards of $100,000, with the average yearly tuition at the top 10 MBA programs landing at an astounding $140,000.
Investopedia estimates that a typical school might charge as much as $40,000 per year for a two-year MBA. A two-year full-time residential program will include other costs, as well. If you have to step away from the workforce to earn your MBA, there are real lost wages to consider.
Of course, there are numerous schools providing a much greater value, and not every MBA program is a two-year residential program. Post University’s online MBA program, for example, costs just $730 per credit hour. Post’s MBA program includes 27 core credit hours, plus three credit hours for a capstone project and nine for a concentration, totaling 39 credit hours.
The total tuition rate for the online MBA here at Post, then, is around $28,470 (before any additional fees, which can vary). This is a far cry from the almost $140,000 you’d spend at some of the top 10 schools.
Six Methods for Paying for Your MBA
While we stand by the long-term value of an MBA program, we recognize that the cost is significant. And if you’re considering other programs in addition to Post’s, the costs there may be significantly higher.
Thankfully, most who earn an MBA don’t pay the full cost out of pocket. They take advantage of is a wide range of sources for help with how to pay for MBA tuition.
Below, you’ll find six methods we recommend every MBA student consider for help with business school or MBA funding. Not every option works for every candidate or program, but we’ve included options that should cover a pretty broad range of scenarios.
Scholarships are typically backed and funded by businesses, endowments, charitable organizations, or the educational institutions themselves. They tend to be based on merit, though there are often other limiting factors (such as being from a specific demographic or pursuing a specific field of study).
And while it’s true that most scholarships are for bachelor’s-level programs, there are a number of scholarships that specifically target MBA programs. With a little searching, you may find several scholarships for which you qualify and that apply toward MBA programs.
There are many sources to consider for MBA-centric scholarships. Below are a few to get you started.
- Fulbright Foreign Student Program
- The Consortium—a minority-focused fund offering full-ride scholarships to top-tier business schools
- Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship Program
- Institute of International Education (IIE)—over a hundred scholarship and grant programs
- International Education and Financial Aid (IEFA)—IEFA contains over a thousand scholarship opportunities, many of which are limited in scope
- The Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme—targets engineers who desire to pursue an MBA full-time
- Open Society Foundations
Many prospective MBA students assume there are no relevant scholarships for them, given that MBA programs tend to lead to high-income potential. However, there are plenty of programs out there, and applying doesn’t cost you anything at all.
Grants are another type of aid that, like scholarships, don’t need to be repaid. While scholarships are typically merit-based, grants are different. Eligibility is based on financial need, and most are backed by federal and state governments. Some schools offer their own need-based grants, as well. Just like scholarships, many grants have additional limiting factors, such as race, gender, or national origin.
While it’s more common to find grants for undergraduate study, there are a number of sources where you might find grants for MBA students. Check out the list below and consider applying for any for which you fit the criteria:
- American Association of University Women(AAUW)—grants for women pursuing professional degrees
- Accenture American Indian (Graduate)—for MBA students from American Indian and Alaska Native tribes
- Military MBA
- State-based grants (varies by state)
- School-based grants
- Survivor-based grants—while they require some online searching, there are funds established to offer scholarship relief for those suffering from a wide range of diseases and/or criminal activities
Before applying for any grant, check the eligibility requirements carefully. But once you find one or more for which you may qualify, take the time to apply. If you’re awarded a grant, it’s money to help with your MBA funding—money you don’t have to pay back.
After you’ve pursued other options, you may still need additional assistance in how to pay for MBA tuition. Financial aid is a valid and responsible option for many MBA students who qualify, especially when considering the high earnings potential that comes with the degree.
Most financial aid takes the form of loans, either public or private, which must be repaid gradually after graduation. Start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This government form and program will inform you of the various types of aid available. These will typically include the following:
- Federal direct unsubsidized loans
- Federal direct graduate PLUS loan (credit-based, with higher interest rate)
- Additional school-based aid tied to the FAFSA
- Any state aid available to you
Remember that any federal or public loans you use must be repaid, and they do accrue interest. We recommend taking out only as large a loan as is necessary, and you should always have a plan for how you will repay the loan.
In addition to public loans and other FAFSA-related aid, private student loans are also an option. Public student loans typically have a cap, but some students need additional loans to complete their MBAs. If you need a private student loan, we recommend sticking to well-known brands such as these recommendations from NerdWallet. Whatever lender you choose, make absolutely certain you understand the terms of the loan.
If you’re already established in your career, make sure to ask your employer whether they offer any reimbursement for professional development or ongoing education. Many large employers have formal programs in place to offer partial or complete reimbursement for employees pursuing business school or an MBA. Some firms have blanket programs that offer a modest reimbursement to any employee, while others focus on top potential and cover more (or even all) of the costs.
Even if you work at a smaller firm with no published or established reimbursement program, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Savvy executives and managers know the value of retaining top talent. If you can make your case for how your MBA will benefit the company, you may get direct assistance.
One of the most significant benefits of serving in the US military is access to funds through the GI Bill. The GI Bill essentially covers all tuition up to a maximum level per year, and it can be used to fund graduate study. For students who attend an in-state public university, the GI Bill is nearly always enough to cover tuition completely.
If you choose an out-of-state or high-priced private university, you may need more money than the GI Bill offers. Look into the Yellow Ribbon Program if that describes your situation.
Your Own Money (Savings)
Lastly, don’t forget to consider your own money in the calculation of how to pay for MBA tuition. If you’re several years into your career, you may well have saved up a good amount already. You certainly don’t want to completely drain your savings to fund your MBA, but you might consider using a decent chunk of it. Consider it an investment in your future earnings potential—because for most MBA graduates, that’s exactly what it is.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post University program. To learn more about Post University’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.