Advice on Funding Your Graduate Business School Studies

Feb 28, 2013
Tags: B-School, Financial Aid, School Selection

Rebekah Lewin photo

Submitted by Rebekah Lewin, Executive Director of Admissions & Administration at University of Rochester, William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration 

A common question facing prospective students is how to finance an MBA or Master’s degree.  Fortunately, there are many ways to finance the degree that will lead to a strong “return on investment” – especially if you prepare and plan in advance.  Keep in mind that most students use a combination of several of these funding sources to pay for graduate school.

Merit-based scholarships – Offered to top enrolling students after considering your application and candidate profile.  This type of funding often requires an early round-application for full consideration.  Essentially money that goes toward the tuition costs of your study.  Scholarships range from smaller partial awards to full-tuition funding. 

Outside scholarships – May be merit and/or need-based and often are offered on a subset of criteria that applicants must meet (i.e. level/type of prior work experience, undergraduate major, gender, ethnicity, or family background).  This type of funding requires an individual application and each foundation or organization has different deadlines.  Be wary of any organization that requires you to pay a fee to be considered – most applications for outside scholarships are free. 

Graduate Assistantships – Part-time employment at the university that provides compensation toward your tuition or living expenses.  It may be based upon academic credentials or other skills that you demonstrate that are a fit for the type of work that you would be doing.  GA positions may be offered at the time of admission or you may find something through an online job board once you enroll. 

Loans – The US government offers loans to citizens and residents as long as you aren’t in default from prior undergraduate/ graduate loans.  There are also private educational loans available that will be based upon your credit-score and debt/income ratio.  You will want to monitor your credit report prior to B-school to make sure it is accurate.  If your credit score is weaker, then you need to also work on a plan to improve that, or alternatively identify a credit-worthy co-signer if you are seeking private educational loans.

Personal/family funds – You need to develop a financial plan to reduce debt and set aside savings toward your B-school investment.   This can reduce your reliance on loans and gives you more flexibility for unbudgeted expenses that may arise during graduate school. 

The best place to start your search is on your target business schools' websites – many programs will list available funding sources in more detail and provide clear timelines on the process.  Here at the University of Rochester, Simon School, more than 80 percent of our incoming students receive partial or full-tuition scholarship support.  Visit our website to learn more.  If you plan carefully, you can make the MBA or MS degree an affordable investment!