Three questions to ask about financing your MBA

The prospect of financing an MBA can be a source of stress for many business school hopefuls. First, the best MBA programs don’t come cheap, and then there’s all the extra costs to think about: travel, accommodation, study materials… It all adds up. That said, it’s best to think about financing your MBA as a smart business investment on which you can expect excellent returns.

If you’re still in the early stages of working out how you’re going about financing your MBA, it’s common to feel a little overwhelmed. Asking the three questions below is a good way to get a little clarity on the subject and work out exactly where you stand.

1. How much will financing your MBA cost you in total?

It’s essential to get a realistic idea of the total cost of pursuing an MBA upfront to avoid any surprise later on. Always ask about any extra fees and levies you may be liable for over and above your basic MBA tuition fees. For example,  some schools require students to pay a student government association fee or other pre-term fees relating to the use of campus facilities.

In general, the list below should cover the main costs of your MBA:

  • MBA tuition cost;

  • Extra fees such as student government association fees;

  • Books and other study materials or equipment;

  • Accommodation and living expenses;

  • Daily travel expenses;

  • Field trips, possibly including international travel;

  • Health and liability insurance;

  • A laptop if you don’t already own one;

If you’re trying to keep costs down, there are a number of ways to save money on categories like entertainment, housing and transport, even in the most expensive cities around the world.

2. How long will it take you to make back what you’ve spent?

Whether you’re going to dip into your savings or take out a loan to finance your MBA, it’s useful to know how long it will take you to earn back the total cost of your MBA. Do some research into what kind of salary bump you can expect after graduation, as this will vary depending on your particular industry or field. However, surveys show that the majority of MBA graduates are able to pay off their loans within three to five years.

3. Are you eligible for any scholarships, grants, or other funding options?

Part of working out how you’re going about financing your MBA includes looking into all funding options that might be available to you. Start with your chosen business school’s website, as most schools offer a range of scholarships and grants, either independently or in partnership with corporate partners. If you’re a star candidate that boasts stellar GMAT scores, an impressive academic record and demonstrable leadership qualities, you may be able to snag a scholarship that helps you either partially or fully pay for your MBA.

In contrast, grants are generally awarded based on a financial need basis. Employer sponsorship might be another avenue worth investigating, provided you’re prepared to continue working for your current employer for an agreed number of years after graduation. If employer sponsorship appeals to you, approach your employer ready to convince them why and how investing in your MBA will benefit the company.

If you are going to invest in an MBA, you’d better ensure you’re getting the best value for your money. The ESSEC Global MBA is an intensive 12-month program with an international focus geared towards promising professionals looking to accelerate their careers. Find out more about the ESSEC Global MBA here.

Still searching for the ideal MBA program? Our free guide, How to find the perfect MBA, takes you through the key considerations you need to take into account when choosing an MBA. Download the guide.

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