One thing is certain: Higher education is an expensive investment. For some, an elite MBA will cost nearly $300K. And unless you’re one of the fortunate few to receive a scholarship, it will most likely take some student loans to fully fund the investment.
As a result, various private loan companies have popped up—many founded by MBAs. Schools have also upped scholarship amounts. But for many, especially international students, that’s not always enough. And so, months after an epic tuition slash, the University of Rochester Simon Business School has created a new loan program aiming to assist international students secure loans.
Last week, the school announced its International Student Loan Program (ISLP) and partnership with Elements Financial and Credit Union Student Choice. The partnership and program will allow international Simon students to qualify for educational loans from $1,000 up to the full cost of MBA tuition. It will also allow them to be eligible without a U.S. cosigner.
“There’s a lot of conversation right now in the higher education space about accessibility for undergraduate and graduate study,” Rebekah Lewin, the assistant dean of admissions and financial aid at Simon Business School tells Poets&Quants in a phone interview. “We certainly think there’s a strong value in the return on investment in pursuing our MBA degree and we want the strongest candidates in our program.”
A LOAN ESTIMATE WITH AN ADMISSIONS DECISION
International students applying to Simon for fall of 2016 and beyond may “opt-in” to the program by indicating interest on the school’s admission application. Lewin explains one purpose of the program is to be as transparent with international applicants as early in the application process as possible.
“It’s becoming a necessary part of the financial piece,” Lewin explains while adding that the school had a similar program previously but was not able to give the applicants a loan estimate at the time of admissions. “We wanted to look for a partner to make those decisions sooner,” Lewin continues. “We also wanted to give a better level of flexibility and customer support as they are going through the loan application process.”
With the new partnership, Simon’s admissions office is able to review ISLP funding with the admissions packet and can give the applicant a preliminary funding level “around the time” when the admissions decision is made. After that, applicants can apply to Elements Financial to complete the process. Essentially, Simon is making a loan decision and serving as a cosigner for qualified international applicants.
“It would be a very rare instance what someone goes through the process and then is denied,” Lewin claims. “Presuming if they haven’t declared bankruptcy or some other unusual case. We want students to have a fairly high level of certainty around the total financial package.”
MAKING SURE THE VERY BEST CANDIDATES GAIN ACCESS
To be sure, Simon Business School has recently been at the center of MBA cost discussions. In September, the school announced it would soon cut tuition for a two year, full-time MBA by 13.6% to $92,000. Then, Simon Business School Dean Andrew Ainslie told Poets&Quants that the school was “out of whack” with its cost compared to similarly ranked schools. Then, in October, Ainslie argued why the MBA is still an “awesome investment.”
For its class of 2017, Simon has 17 countries outside of the U.S. represented. And Lewin insists the new program is not a ploy to up international student numbers. “I don’t know that it’s going to change the overall mix in students we have enrolling,” Lewin believes. “We do want to make sure the top students we see in our applicant pool are students that can enroll if they are admitted. And if financing options are limited in their countries, we want to give them funding options here.”