How MBAs Are Financing The Degree

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The high cost of a graduate management education continues to be a key concern for prospective students and an important factor in deciding where they will apply and enroll, a new survey of prospective students by the Graduate Management Admission Council found today (May 10).

Would-be grad students in business generally expect using a variety of resources to fund their degrees although they expect to finance almost half of their education through a

combination of grants, fellowships and scholarships (26%) and loans (20%).

Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are more likely to rely on personal savings and earnings as well as employer support to pay for the costs of their education; whereas Millennial and Generation Z cohorts will be more dependent on parental support, according to GMAC’s prospective students survey.

There are also important gender differences to note within the expected

financial mix for different age groups. Among prospective students 24 years of age and younger, men are more likely than women to rely on loans and personal savings, whereas women expect to rely more on parental support. Among those aged 24 to 30, women are more likely to rely on spousal or partner earnings and employer reimbursement than men their age, who expect to rely more on loans. Among those aged 31 and older, women will rely more on a spouse’s or partner’s earnings and men will rely more on personal savings.


Source: GMAC 2016 Prospective Students' Survey

Source: GMAC 2016 Prospective Students’ Survey

Prospective students who are employed and who plan to continue working full-time while attending business school face challenges related to levels of employer funding, which continues to decline, GMAC said. Currently, 45% of this group anticipates receiving employer tuition assistance or reimbursement to help pay for their education, down from 54% in 2009. In addition, these individuals anticipate their employer assistance will cover, on average, just 52% of their educational costs, down from 55% in 2009.

GMAC claimed that employers who help finance their employees’ graduate management education often reap multiple benefits as a result of their investment, ranging from workers who now have acquired new skill sets to improved employee retention. Three in five (62%) prospective students who expect employer tuition assistance intend to remain with their current employer versus 26% of those not receiving such assistance. Among candidates most likely to anticipate using employer-funded tuition (e.g., those currently employed who plan to continue working full-time while completing their degree) are women, candidates in entry and mid-level jobs, and those interested in professional MBA programs (see table below).


Source: GMAC 2016 Prospective Students' Survey

Source: GMAC 2016 Prospective Students’ Survey

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