Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5

Seven In Ten MBAs Racking Up Debt

Nearly seven of every ten MBAs this year expect to graduate with at least some student debt, according to a new study by the Graduate Management Admission Council. The median financial burden for all graduate business students is $45,000.

The study, based on a survey of graduating students conducted between Feb. 15 and March 18th, included part-time and one-year MBA students, which would tend to decrease overall debt levels. Most business schools that report the average debt of their full-time, two-year MBA graduates show significantly higher numbers, ranging from an estimated $114,339 at Wharton last year to $60,473 for the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School (see “Graduating with an MBA and Lots of Debt.”)

The study found, for example, that 67% of full-time, two-year MBA grads went into hock to get their degrees, compared with 52% of those who went back to school part-time or 47% who were graduating from Executive MBA programs. Men were more likely to borrow money to finance their business education than women. Some 61% of men expected to graduate with debt this year, compared to 54% of women, GMAC said (see table on left).

GMAC, however, tended to play down the concern over rising MBA debt. “Prospective students’ economic reservations about attending business school have lessened over the past three years, and they expect loans to comprise less than a quarter of their total financial package,” GMAC said. “In spite of the costs of graduate business education, more than nine out of ten respondents reported their education had good to outstanding value.”

For the first time in its survey of recent or soon-to-be graduates of business schools, GMAC asked students graduating in 2012 about the level of debt they incurred while in business school. The council found significant variations in the expected debt reported both by program type and school location.

While GMAC said the median level of debt for graduating students this year was $45,000, business grads in the 75th percentile reported the median to be sharply higher at $80,000. On the other hand, those in the 25th percentile told GMAC researchers that they borrowed a median of only $21,000.

Which students tend to borrow the most to finance their educations? About 65% of graduates who go into consulting reported student debt, compared to just 50% of the graduates who went into information technology. The most likely students to go into hock for their degrees were those from Central Asia, said GMAC. Some 73% of the students from Central Asia borrowed money for their degrees, compared to 61% in the U.S. and only 34% of the students from the Middle East and Africa.

GMAC said the annual surveys it conducts “among thousands of prospective business school students reveal that loans typically comprise part of the expected financial mix of personal savings, grants, parental and employer support, and other sources that students rely on to pay for their education.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.