Have An MBA Student Loan Question? Ask Phil, Our Resident Expert

Phil DeGisi, Chief Marketing Officer at CommonBond

What are the best options out there to finance your MBA? How do you know which loans are right for you? Should you liquidate your savings to pay for your MBA, or should you invest and take out student loans instead? These are just a few of the questions Phil DeGisi will help to answer as Poets&Quant’s new resident expert on MBA student lending – along with any and all other questions on financing your MBA.

And Phil is uniquely qualified for the job. He is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of CommonBond, a tech-enabled student lender that aims to make higher education financing more affordable and transparent.  Not only does Phil run the product, marketing, business development, and creative teams at CommonBond, he graduated from Tuck in 2009 with over $150,000 in student debt – at an 8% interest rate.  He joined CommonBond because he’s experienced the painful process of paying off his high-interest rate student loans – and he’s dedicated to helping students like you have a better experience.  He went on to pay off his student loans in under 6 years – so he can offer expert advice on how you can do the same.

You can take comfort knowing that Phil has walked in your shoes.  Before joining CommonBond, Phil held marketing roles at both startups and larger companies including Quidsi (sold to Amazon), littleBits electronics, and Walmart.com. He’s agreed to serve as a sounding board and source of advice at Poets&Quants for all questions related to financing your MBA – so fire away!


  • Blaise Buma

    Hi Phil-

    It turns out if you get an offer through the 2+2 program, you do not know any decision about a package until the year you’re ready to enroll. Do you know what formula HBS uses to award loans/financial aid packages to students? Thanks.

  • Phil DeGisi

    Hi Robert,

    An executive MBA will be eligible for the same Federal loan options as a regular full-time MBA. So, on the Federal loan side, you’d be eligible for the Direct Unsubsidized loan (also referred to as the Stafford loan for grad students) for the first $20,500 and for the Grad PLUS loan for all costs after that. Just be sure to fill out the FAFSA if you haven’t already. That should be your first step.

    On the private loan side, you can apply for a loan for your MBA with a private lender to see if you can get a more competitive interest rate. For example, in the case of CommonBond, where I work, we offer our non-cosigned MBA loan to NYU Stern exec MBAs. Keep in mind though that private loans will not come with Federal protections like Income-based Repayment programs. So you’ll want to make sure you understand the tradeoffs.

    Regarding the Stern exec MBA specifically, if you haven’t seen it already, here is info they share about financing options:


  • Robert Gogel

    how is a 22 month executive mba treated? which loans would I be eligible for (NYU Stern exec mba)

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  • Christian Pena

    Hi Phil!

    Looking for some general advice here as far as financing a 2 year full time MBA. I don’t have a ton of cash saved up other than Roth IRA, company-sponsored 401k, etc; but I do have ~$175k of equity in my primary residence. All other things being equal, would you recommend taking out a HELOC and paying for my MBA that way? Or would you recommend taking a more traditional route e.g. student loans? Assume I need about ~$125k to finance 2 years of MBA + living expenses.

    I know there are a lot of mitigating circumstances and what not–but just looking for some general advice.


  • Phil DeGisi

    Hi Heather, looking forward to answering folks’ questions here!

  • Heather Soderquist

    Welcome, Phil! We are excited to implement your new column on Poets&Quants. Let’s run through a couple of tests. Please let me know when you get this message. After we’ve confirmed it works, we’ll get the questions rolling! Thanks for contributing to Poets&Quants!