Advice on Funding Your Graduate Business School Studies
Sep 22, 2016
B-School, Financial Aid, School Selection
Submitted by Rebekah Lewin, assistant dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at the University of Rochester, William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration.
A common question facing prospective students is: How do I finance my 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 plan in advance. Consider the five funding sources below, but keep in mind that most students use a combination of these options to fund their graduate management education.
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 un-budgeted 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!