“I’m In…Now What?” Paying For It

Napping on booksAlright. I’m in! Admit Welcome Weekend was awesome. I’ve put down my deposit, and I can’t wait to get started. As I entered my credit card information to pay my deposit, the reality of paying for school started to settle in. It’s no longer an abstract concept pushed out to some unknown future date. It’s here. Right now.

With the hefty price tag of business school looming, I maintain that I do not have a spending problem, but instead have what I like to call a “sourcing challenge” – that is, how exactly am I going to source the necessary funds for business school?

Same question goes for a lot of rising second years I know. Where to come up with the funds to pay for tuition, room & board, and another year of treks?

Taking a page from my time in finance, I created a spreadsheet to lay out my own “Sources and Uses.” Like any company looking to restructure, I would need to figure out the costs (“Uses”) and then figure out where the money to finance those costs will come from (“Sources”), hopefully coming out on the other side a better, faster, stronger version of myself (note to self: add Daft Punk to karaoke list). I have made this spreadsheet available for download at the end of this blog post; the spreadsheet really helped me get a grasp of the financial considerations of going to business school, and hopefully it will do the same for you.


Let’s first start with “Uses,” spending the money is always pretty easy. Business schools are pretty helpful in providing projected budgets. In the below table, we have the 2013-2014 estimated student budget, also known as “Cost of Attendance,” from a top MBA program. Tuition increases are projected to be anywhere from 4-6%, so let’s go ahead and assume 5% across the board.

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 11.52.27 AM


Alright, now it’s time to do the dirty work. I like to think about “Sources” in two forms. We have:

1)     Equity. This is money you don’t have to pay back.

  1. Scholarships & Gifts (free money). Not everyone receives these. If you did, consider yourself lucky (and congratulations!).
  2. Cash-on-Hand (your money). A large part of business school is trekking around the globe. Those trips will likely come from this source of capital. (See “Hiking Kilimanjaro”)

2)     Debt (not-so-free money). This is money you have to pay back.

Let’s take a look at how this might look…

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 11.55.30 AM

As you can see, the exact sources of debt are still TBD. When it comes to financing an MBA, we are pretty certain about the amount of gifts and scholarships we will receive by the time we accept an offer of admission. Likewise, we have a pretty good handle on the amount of cash we can contribute. That leaves us with a balance that needs to be funded through debt.

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