How Will I Fund My MBA Abroad?
When getting an international MBA degree, funding is often more nerve-racking than waiting for your acceptance letter. Cameron Stevens of Prodigy Finance shares the financial obstacles he faced as an MBA student, and weighs in on promising financing options.
Funding was my top concern when I joined INSEAD’s MBA programme in France. After many conversations with fellow international classmates, we all agreed that funding our education was more difficult than getting into INSEAD, which was mind-boggling! Perhaps that is why funding remains the most concerning aspect and obstacle for international MBA applicants.
Funding four ways
With a dedication to researching options and filling out applications, there are four conventional ways you can find the funds you need to complete an MBA program abroad.
- Savings.This is a necessary but scarce option for many students. Whether you have your own savings or get financial support from loved ones, the amount usually covers just a fragment of the total cost. That cost is as much as US$73,000 per year for tuition alone, according to current figures from top US schools like Stanford Graduate School of Business. Additionally, many graduate business degree applicants don’t have the financial means to save enough before pursuing an international degree.
- Sponsorships. MBA sponsorship is an amazing opportunity if you are a valued employee at your current company. Receiving a sponsorship also frees you from the financial burden of securing a loan to pay for your international business master’s degree. However, sponsorships also have a downside. Since most companies require at least a 2-year commitment after graduation, sponsorships don’t make sense if you’re not thriving in that company or industry. If you see your MBA abroad experience as an opportunity to change professions and pursue network opportunities elsewhere, a self-funded degree is your best fit.
- Scholarships. Fortunately, there is no shortage of available scholarships to help fund your MBA abroad. From Australia to Zimbabwe, institutions and foundations in many countries offer scholarships based on merit and need. There are also more scholarship opportunities for minorities and underrepresented students, such as the Forté Foundation for women considering MBAs and opportunities for LGBTQ students. Additionally, Global Scholarships for International Students is a popular database for scholarships available worldwide.
- Loans. Loans are a viable way to complement your MBA costs, but unfortunately access is an issue. More than 80 percent of MBA candidates can’t get loans because they have no credit history in the country where they’ll study; they lack the assets they need for collateral; or they live in a country without stable student loan programs or where banks are reluctant to risk lending to students studying abroad. Many banks worldwide are structured nationally, so they grapple with lending internationally.
To illustrate what I mentioned above: if you were born in San Francisco and accepted to Stanford, you have many financing options. If you’re from Ghana or Indonesia, your access to funds is totally different because of structural issues that have nothing to do with you personally—this is a problem that’s fundamentally unfair.
Prodigy Finance was forged to address these issues. After my experience of being denied a bank loan after I was accepted into INSEAD’s MBA programme, I was convinced that a more accessible option—no co-signers or collateral required—would appeal for applicants. Prodigy uses a borderless credit model that assess students on their future earning potential, not just their credit history, backed by a community of investors looking to have a social impact that also offers a financial return.
More degree options, more funding
In recent years, business schools around the world have expanded to include master’s degree programs in disciplines such as cyber security, information technology, and supply chain management. Since these newer options attract a younger student demographic with less in their savings accounts, the demand for funding options is more significant than ever.