Before you jump into the deep end and start taking out loans left and right to finance your MBA, make sure that you have explored all of your “free money” options. There are plenty of grants and scholarships available to students, both from universities and outside sources. While they probably won’t cover the entire cost of the program, they will help you reduce the amount of debt you will have upon graduation.
Many schools offer a variety of merit based scholarships, plus scholarships for military service or other personal circumstances that may require financial aid. Contact your university’s Office of Financial Aid to see if you qualify for any of their grants or scholarships. You may qualify for a university fellowship, or you may qualify for a grant which is specific to your university or MBA program. Or try speaking to some of the students who are currently in the program, they may be able to give you some insight about funding.
If you aren’t opposed to working on campus, university fellowships can be a great option to reduce your financial burden. Working with professors and students, university fellows take on more responsibilities on campus than their non-fellowship colleagues, but also receive strong professional training and experience. Fellowship students may receive a small stipend in compensation for their work.
If you are currently professionally employed and are pursuing an MBA to supplement your experience and increase your earning power, you may be able to get your employer to partially sponsor your tuition. There will be conditions of course, your employer may only agree to sponsor you if you agree to stay on board for a few extra years. Ultimately the conditions are decided by the employer, but if it helps you pay for school and guarantees a job position upon graduation, it can be a win-win situation!
Merit and Need Based Scholarships
There are a great deal of scholarships available to students, both university specific and available to the public. Speak with your university’s Office of Financial Aid to see what kind of scholarships your university offers. In the mean time, here is an extensive list of outside MBA scholarships compiled by Univeristy of California Berkeley that may help you stay out of debt a little longer. Take some time to look through the available outside scholarships - there may be one that’s just right for you.