× Explore our resources to learn how to reach your career goals with a graduate business degree.

How Does the Average Applicant Plan to Pay for Business School?

Image not found

If you’re like most business school applicants, the investment you plan to make in your MBA or business master’s degree is among the largest you’ll make in your life. A big question probably on your mind right now is how am I going to pay for business school?

While no two business school applicants’ situations are exactly alike, as you grapple with how you’ll cover the cost it can be helpful to understand how the many thousands of other recent graduate business school applicants plan to finance their degree.

Paying for business school: How does everyone do it?

Over the course of 2020, the GMAC Research team surveyed nearly 3,000 mba.com registrants who planned to enroll in business school in 2021 and asked them questions related to how they plan to pay for business school.

Overall, business school applicants are bullish on their prospects for earning some level of grant, fellowship, or scholarship to cover at least a portion of their tuition costs. More than 3 in 5 applicants (61%) anticipate these sources making up a least a portion of their financing—more than any other financing source. About half of applicants plan to use graduate student loans (50%), personal savings (50%), and support from parents (46%).

Not surprisingly, support from parents is more common among applicants to pre-experience business master’s programs, who typically enter business school right after earning their bachelor’s. Among these applicants, 68 percent expect support from their parents. Compare this to MBA applicants, among whom just 33 percent anticipate parental support.

Of course, it’s one thing to say you plan to use a funding source, it’s another to specify what portion of your total expenses specific funding sources will cover. The survey asked applicants to allocate 100 points across financing sources in proportion to how they plan to pay for their business school experience.

Among applicants to MBA programs, grants, fellowships, and scholarships (26%) and loans (25%) account for about a quarter each of how the average applicant plans to pay for business school. Rounding out the average financing mix is personal savings (15%), support from parents (12%), personal earnings (12%), and employer reimbursement (6%).

average mba salary 

The funding mix for business master’s applicants, who again are typically right out of undergrad, looks a little different and is reflective of where the average applicant is in their educational and professional journey at the point when they apply to business school. For these applicants, parental support nets out as the top funding source at 35 percent, followed by grants, fellowships, and scholarships (22%) and loans (16%). Rounding out the mix for the average business master’s applicant is personal savings (12%) and personal earnings (9%).

 business master's average salary

More about how to pay for business school

mba.com is your go-to source for understanding your options to pay for business school. Get the inside scoop on the truth about MBA scholarships and how to negotiate your scholarship offers, learn more about MBA fellowships and how they’re different from scholarships, and understand your options for graduate student loans, with personalized advice for US applicants and international applicants targeting US schools.