How Will You Pay For Your MBA?

How will you pay for your MBA?

Linh Gilles, director of admissions and recruiting for the Carlson Full Time MBA program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

When you decide to buy a house, doing your financial homework is not only advisable but absolutely necessary. You must research loan options, check your credit, and, most importantly, accumulate savings to be ready to make the large financial investment.

Preparing to pursue your MBA shouldn’t be any different … but too often, I’ve seen students left flummoxed by that first tuition bill. No doubt, applying to MBA programs is daunting, so many candidates intensely focus up front on getting into their preferred schools. Often, students don’t truly understand the full financial implications until they’re actually admitted, submit their deposit, and enroll. Or, they place all their hopes in scholarships to cover the bulk of the cost.

A lack of financial preparation will leave you stressed out and distracted from the very reason you’re in school in the first place.

Instead, accept and embrace that your MBA is an investment—one that will pay off in the long run, according to numerous studies—and dig into your options and the short-term financial implications for your life.

Here are some simple starter tips:

  • Take steps now to ensure your credit is in good standing
  • Review and be ready to submit an application for federal student aid
  • Know that you may have to seek additional private loans
  • If you’re comfortable with it, think about any family members who might be willing to provide financial help
  • Explore scholarships at your target schools (without assuming you’ll land one)
  • If you’re pursuing your MBA on a part-time basis while still working, be sure to examine any reimbursement options offered by your company

Determine what kind of monthly budget you’ll need to pay your current and ongoing expenses. Start saving and living like an MBA student, cutting expenses where you can. If you do that a year in advance, it won’t be such a shock to the system when the paychecks stop and your program starts.

By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll graduate with less debt and greater financial freedom. And instead of stressing about finances, you’ll be able to focus on your classes, networking with employers, and launching your new career.

Linh Gilles is director of admissions and recruiting for the Carlson Full-Time MBA Program at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Contact her at