Earning an MBA can advance your career path and financial earnings; however, MBAs can be extraordinarily expensive, and finding funding can be a stressful experience. We’re here to make that process less burdensome.
The Financial Aid Office
Contact your school’s financial aid office for information on its specific process, options, and deadlines. Different programs will have different opportunities available to its students, so this is a good place to start. Most schools use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which should be submitted after October 1st and before June 30th in order to be considered for federal aid.
Different groups and institutions provide grants for MBA students that don’t need to be paid back, making it a good option for most students. Most look for a membership or some kind of affinity between the student and the organization providing the funding. Other grants may come from the school itself through a merit award system or need-based program. Some specialized courses of study also offer grants for students in those programs.
At most schools, when you apply, you are automatically considered for a scholarship. For outside grants, make sure to give yourself enough time to complete the application, as all grants are competitive and usually require a bit of effort.
Fellowships and Scholarships
Both fellowships and scholarships are usually need-based or merit-based and require an application for consideration. These options, like grants, normally don’t require any repayment, though some of them may require that other standards are kept, like a minimum GPA. Start applying early to be considered ahead of others and to give yourself time to fine-tune the application. See what options are available for graduate students here.
Here are some of the top MBA scholarship options for students in 2022:
1. Morning Brew Tech and Business News Scholarship
For: Business-minded students
Deadline: April 30, 2022
2. Forté MBA Fellowships
For: Female students applying to Forté partner MBA programs (see those here)
Deadline: Applications for 2023 will open this summer
3. Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship
For: First-year Latino, Native American, or female MBA students pursuing a Summer Associate position at Goldman Sachs
Amount: $35,000 reward in addition to the Summer Associate Salary; upon successful completion, recipients will be awarded an additional $40,000
Deadline: March 28, 2022
4. ROMBA Fellowship
For: MBA candidates who identify as LGBTQ+
Amount: A minimum of $20,000
Deadline: Same as school deadlines
5. Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
For: Immigrants and the children of immigrants in the US who are pursuing full-time graduate degrees.
Deadline: Applications will open in mid-April 2022
6. Military MBA Scholarship
For: Any US resident with an undergraduate degree who has served in the military.
Amount: Four $5,000 awards
Deadline: Applications just closed but will open again later this year
7. National Black MBA Association Scholarships
For: Black students applying to MBA programs at different universities
There are several different loan options available for MBA students. Some are available through the school’s financial aid office, while others can be obtained through the federal government or a private source. Unlike grants and scholarships, loans do need to be paid back but some student loans make that process easier for students with lower or no interest fees until graduation.
Here are some of the top loan programs for aspiring MBA candidates:
1. Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Fixed APR: 3.73-5.28%
Minimum Credit Score: None
Perks: Flexible repayment options, subsidized loans do not collect interest while students are in school, and the interest rates are generally lower.
2. Federal PLUS Loan
Fixed APR: ~6.28%
Minimum Credit Score: None
Perks: Flexible repayment options. This loan is common for parents who are taking out a loan for their child and want the safety net that comes from a federal loan.
3. Ascent MBA Student Loan
Fixed APR: 3.44-11.41%
Minimum Credit Score: 540
Perks: Very flexible repayment and you can see if you qualify without a hard credit check. This loan is best for students with good credit scores or who have a cosigner with a good credit score.
4. Sofi Private Student Loan
Fixed APR: 2.49-7.59%
Minimum Credit Score: 650
Perks: This loan comes with benefits like career planning and entrepreneurship support. It also allows you to refinance parents’ PLUS loans in your name.
5. Earnest Private Student Loan
Fixed APR: 2.69-7.49%
Minimum Credit Score: 650
Perks: Earnest offers customizable loan payments and terms and an option to skip one payment every 12 months.
Many employers in the US offer financial assistance for their employees’ pursuit of higher education. Begin by going to your employer’s website to see if any such programs exist. If you are still in your undergraduate degree or are looking to change jobs and know you want to pursue an MBA, it is a good idea to look for companies that sponsor students’ MBAs or offer tuition reimbursement plans. While this is an excellent option, be aware that many of these companies require you to work for a certain number of years after acquiring your degree as a condition for receiving funding.
Many different Fortune 500 companies offer some kind of MBA financial assistance, whether it be a scholarship, tuition help, or tuition reimbursement. Here is a list of some of the companies with financial aid programs in place:
- Capital One
- General Dynamics
- State Farm
- Liberty Manual
- Bank of America
- Northrop Grumman
- Pepsi Co.
- United Airlines
- UnitedHealth Group
Work, Study, and Graduate Assistantships
Some MBA programs offer “Work/Study” programs for eligible students in order to allow them to work on campus in exchange for financial assistance. Graduate assistants are a common example of this arrangement. They will often undertake a number of different responsibilities, such as teaching, working in an office, or aiding research projects, and be provided with money for their educational expenses. However, many of these programs do not begin until the second year.
Regardless of the financing route you choose, there are several things to keep in mind as you start the process of paying for an MBA. Firstly, make sure to be aware of all financial aid deadlines for both federal and private organizations. Doing so will make sure that you have plenty of time to complete applications and that you don’t miss any potential opportunities. Secondly, have a financial plan for the entirety of your MBA experience in order to ensure that you can stay focused on the academic experience. Lastly, with any funding you receive, read all terms and conditions so you know what to expect and are aware of any requirements. For example, many financial aid awards do not automatically renew and require additional documents each year.
Financial Aid for the M7 Business Schools
If you plan to attend or are attending one of the M7 business schools in the US, here is some of the financial aid information available.
1. Harvard Business School
Harvard offers many different opportunities for financial aid, from tuition assistance to fellowships and loan reduction programs. For tuition assistance, they offer both need-based and merit-based financial aid that does not need to be paid back. The average scholarship is approximately $40,000 a year, or $80,000 total. Need is usually determined through the student’s gross income from the three years prior to the MBA, any assets, and their socioeconomic background. Scholarships are based on a standardized formula to ensure fair distribution. The financial team at HBS will also help you explore other opportunities such as external scholarships, student loans, and complementary fellowships.
Read more here: The MBAid Journey
2. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
GSB wants its students to succeed throughout their academic experience and after. They offer different opportunities for financial aid including student loans and fellowship awards. Admission to Stanford is need-blind, meaning the school does not consider applicants’ personal resources when making admission decisions. After admittance, GSB calculates an expected student contribution based on your particular financial situation, and the difference between that estimate and the cost of attendance is covered by a combination of fellowships and loans. Fellowships do not need to be repaid and are available to those with demonstrated need, for both US citizens and international students. The average Stanford GSB fellowship for the class of 2023 was approximately $42,000 per year, or $84,000.
Learn more about the financial aid opportunities at GSB here: Tuition and Financial Aid
3. Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
The Financial Aid office at Wharton emphasizes that pursuing an MBA is an investment in yourself and your future. The first-year budget for the Wharton MBA Program is $115,464, which includes tuition, room and board, books, supplies, health insurance, and additional personal costs. There are different programs available to help students finance their degree, including fellowship opportunities that admitted students are automatically considered for after applying. A full list of the fellowships is available on Wharton’s website. Also, for applicants who are on active duty with the military or are a veteran, your application fee will be waived and you are eligible to grant funds through the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Find out more here: Wharton MBA Tuition and Financial Aid Information
4. University of Chicago Booth
The majority of Booth’s students finance their MBA through student loans, repaying them within 10 years of graduation. Booth also offers merit-based scholarships and fellowships to admitted students. They also encourage students to look at external funding sources. Some of the funding options in addition to fellowships available to Booth’s full-time MBA students include industry awards, leadership awards, military awards, external awards, and second-year student awards.
See more about Booth’s financial aid options here: Full-Time MBA Scholarships and Financial Aid
5. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
At Kellogg, 62% of students have some form of financial aid, whether that comes in a loan or scholarship. Admitted students are automatically considered for all merit-based scholarships, and there are also need-based scholarships available to US citizens and permanent residents. They also offer loan assistance programs through the Federal Loan Programs including the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans. Active duty applicants and veterans are also eligible for grants through the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Read more here: Kellogg Tuition and Financial Aid
6. Columbia Business School
Columbia offers a wide variety of financial aid opportunities and both merit-based and need-based scholarships. Need-based awards range from $7,500-30,000 for qualified applicants. Of all those who apply for need-based aid, about half receive a scholarship and the average award is $20,000. There are also on-campus work opportunities, including teaching and research assistantships, to help students finance their MBA. Active duty and veteran applicants are eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program aid.
See more information here: Columbia Business School Financial Aid
7. MIT Sloan School of Management
MIT Sloan accepts students regardless of their personal financial situation. After acceptance, MBA candidates will go through a three-tiered financial aid process. First, incoming students are automatically considered for any relevant scholarships/fellowships. Second, students are encouraged to apply for external sources of financial assistance. The Student Funding office at Sloan and the MIT Office of Graduate Education offers resources to help students find financial aid. Lastly, after submitting the Graduate Information Finance Form and FAFSA, students will be eligible for federal and private loans in collaboration with MIT Student Financial Services.
Here is more info on Sloan’s financing options: MIT Sloan Financing Your Education
Though financing your degree can be a frightening process, it is an investment in yourself and your future. MBA graduates earn a median salary that is 75% higher than people with only a bachelor’s degree. Also, MBA programs allow you to network and find connections and opportunities with your peers.
Leland’s coaches are here to talk you through every stage of your MBA process, including figuring out your financing options and offering advice. See our coach recommendations below and browse all of our coaches here.
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