Tag Archives: MBA scholarships

New Scholarship Resource Open to MBA Applicants

Did you know that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.3 trillion in 2015? Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it. Interestingly enough, more …

Did you know that U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.3 trillion in 2015? Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it. Interestingly enough, more than 50% of business school applicants said they would attend a less desirable program if awarded a scholarship, according to SBC’s 2016 annual survey of MBA applicants.

paying for MBA

An MBA must be seen as a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools are committed to working with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.

While MBA programs typically offer fewer scholarships and other types of “free” money than the non-professional forms of graduate education, many online resources can help you to search for a scholarship or fellowship that fits your background and needs.

MBA applicants interested in checking out a variety of potential financial aid options should take a look at ScholarshipOwl, a new platform designed to increase students’ access to scholarships and make the scholarship market more efficient.

The goal of ScholarshipOwl is to provide direct access to the scholarships and create the best opportunities to help students graduate debt-free. The company already has 450,000 users, matching each to 60-70 scholarships on average. In addition, every month the company gives out its own $1,000 scholarship.

One of the ScholarshipOwl’s main advantages is that it matches the student’s profile to the available scholarships, saving time spent sorting through the eligibility requirements. While some scholarships in their system are limited for students accepted into a B.A. program, many are open to enrolled college students and graduate students.

There are many different application processes for financial aid, from demonstrating need to demonstrating merit. Organize the deadlines and submission guidelines to make sure you have a plan to complete the applications, and carefully follow the directions of each scholarship, fellowship or loan you are applying for.

Here are a few tips for individuals planning to attend business school in the near future:

  • Get your finances in order first
  • Think about living slightly below your means before school
  • Save as much as possible
  • Avoid credit card debt
  • Scale back on things you don’t need (including big things like a car if you don’t really need one)

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also really helpful if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the extra time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

You may also be interested in:

Show Me the Money: Top Schools for Scholarships

Pay Less for Your MBA

ROI of the MBA Strong Across Most Tiers

Image credit: Flickr User TaxCredits (CC by 2.0)

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Evaluate 3 Factors When Comparing Business School Acceptances

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Receiving an offer of admission from one of your target business schools is every MBA hopeful’s dream, and that achievement feels even more amazing when a second or even third offer comes in.

After taking some time to properly celebrate, now comes the hard part. Since you likely applied only to programs that you felt passionate about, you must decide where to spend the next two years of your life, and a small fortune. The decision-making process is different for everyone, but there are a few things to consider that may sway your choice.

1. Financial incentives: For some applicants, a generous scholarship offer from one school clinches the deal. However, I typically counsel clients not to focus too heavily on this aspect.

More money from a lesser-ranked school may mean you graduate with little or no debt, but the choice could cost you down the line when it comes to the quality of your network. Within the first few years out of business school , the salary bump that accompanies an MBA with a strong brand will compensate for that initial financial advantage.

If the schools in contention are similarly ranked but have offered drastically different scholarship amounts, or if one program has offered a financial award and the second program offers nothing, you may be able to change that to level the playing field.

Reach out to the admissions office, reiterate your sincere interest in attending their program, and then ask if it’s possible to be considered for a higher scholarship amount – or any scholarship amount – because you now have another offer of acceptance and financial incentive on the table. If you handle this tactfully, and without mentioning the other school by name, you have nothing to lose.

2. Career goals: If you haven’t already done so, now is the time for an in-depth study of how each program will help you advance your professional trajectory. Learn what student clubs and resources exist that support your career interests. Find out which companies recruit heavily at the school, and take a good look at the strength of the career services center and alumni network.

Check out the annual employment report or company lists published on the school’s website. See if one program seems to provide a substantial advantage in your field. If you need more input, call up recruiters and companies you’re interested in to see what they think of the schools you’re choosing between.

Hugo Varela, who works in the health care industry in Madrid, received offers of admission from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and the MIT Sloan School of Management in round one this season.

As he wrestled these past few weeks with the decision of which program to attend, Varela said in an email that, “The single most critical factor is whether a certain school provides me with the best opportunity to reach my goals.”

However, he said that in his case, “The three schools I have been admitted to could put me in a great position to achieve those goals, without much of a difference among them in terms of opportunities.”

Looking solely at career stats, therefore, may not be enough to guide your decision.

3. Fit: This is always the most unquantifiable yet crucial element to consider when deciding on a school. Check your gut as you visit the campus or chat with current students and alumni.

Think about if you feel intimidated or uncomfortable, or welcomed and completely at ease. When you reach out to alumni or students, note if they are eager and quick to answer your questions, or if you have to wait days for a follow-up email or call.

Due to work constraints, Varela says he was able to visit only the Tuck campus in person, but he talked to current students and attended school-hosted events in Madrid before and after applying in order to get to know as much as he could about every school.

“Current students and alumni really have been key for me to decide where to apply and where to attend,” he wrote.

If possible, attending each program’s admitted students weekend, where you’ll spend time on campus around current students and other admitted applicants, is one of the best ways to help you decide which school is a better fit. Sometimes though, a campus visit is logistically or financially impossible.

“As an international student who could not physically visit schools, I think attending infosessions, talking to students and alums and online research to the point of cyber-stalking was what helped me decide on which schools to apply to, and also gave me an edge in the admissions process, especially the interviews,” wrote a prospective student from Bangalore, India, who goes by Vandana? and works for a global online entertainment portal.

Vandana maintains a blog chronicling her MBA journey, and was admitted to UCLA Anderson School of Management, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business in round one this season.

“My Kellogg interviewer actually remarked how great it was that I could glean so much about Kellogg – in-depth knowledge on clubs, activities, student culture and really get a feel for the school despite living halfway across the world,” she wrote.

The decision may ultimately come down to where you want to end up geographically after graduation, or what type of experience you want to have during your MBA. For each candidate, the answer will be different.

“Deciding between programs is hard,” Varela wrote. “But it is one of those decisions where you are going to win no matter what you choose.”

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Avoid 3 Mistakes When Building Your MBA Budget

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The MBA admissions process requires determination, dedication and hard work. But don’t let the effort required to gain admission stop you from tackling …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

The MBA admissions process requires determination, dedication and hard work. But don’t let the effort required to gain admission stop you from tackling another important aspect of business school success: your budget.

Given the rising cost of a top business degree, even a small budgeting mistake can cost you a fair amount. Here are three mistakes to avoid as you create your plan to pay for business school.

1. Not starting early enough: Ideally, you would have considered the cost of an MBA when deciding whether to attend business school or in the first place. This includes thinking about tuition along with external costs such as wages lost by leaving your job.

Either way, as soon as you have any financing questions at all, you should contact your prospective school’s financial aid office. You can also get advice through admissions events. Financial aid officers are an amazing resource. They’ve seen it all before, and they want to ensure qualified candidates can pay for a degree.

[Check out 10 ways to make the most of business school.]

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also important if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

2. Not thinking beyond your cost of attendance: The advantage you’ll get from early budgeting is only as good as the numbers you’re starting with. While the school’s published cost of attendance is a clear starting point that factors in tuition as well as cost of living estimates, you may need to cover additional costs before, during and after your program.

To address the before costs, you’ll want to assess your personal financial situation carefully to see what your cost of attendance really entails. For example, it might cost you money to relocate to a new city or commute to campus.

You also might still have recurring bills that can’t be changed, such as an installment loan on a large purchase. Even updating your business wardrobe to prepare for interview season can amount to several hundred dollars if you’re not planning carefully.

[Uncover the hidden costs of paying for an MBA program.]

To understand what added costs you might incur during and after school, brainstorm all the opportunities you’re interested in that require extra spending: dues for your target clubs, study abroad expenses, and attendance fees for conferences are three great starting points. (One student lending company, CommonBond, has a calculator that allows you to factor “once in a lifetime” trips into your business school budget.) If you’re planning to intern in a new city during the summer, you’ll need to budget for the upfront cost of moving in as well.

If you’re planning to intern in a new city during the summer, you’ll need to budget for the upfront cost of moving as well.

3. Not investigating all your options: Once you’ve gotten a head start and pinned down the amount you’ll need to budget, make sure you don’t leave any funding options on the table. It might seem daunting to call up student loan companies and interview these potential lenders, but finding the best student loan option out there will save you thousands of dollars and avoid hours of logistical headaches.

Don’t be afraid to get creative either or even to ask for money. If you know your post-MBA plans, you may be able to negotiate with your employer for sponsorship during your MBA. Finally, review your existing assets and whether you’ll benefit from tapping into retirement accounts or other investments to fund your MBA.

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Assess 5 Funding Options to Help Pay for an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Getting your MBA acceptance letter is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but submitting your deposit for business school is a thrill of a different kind. …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Getting your MBA acceptance letter is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but submitting your deposit for business school is a thrill of a different kind.

After you decide where to attend, you’ll only have a few months to get your finances in order. Before it’s too late, take a look at how to assess the following sources of funding when planning to finance your MBA.

1. Scholarships and fellowships: Scholarships are clearly a great source of funding – it’s free money – but it’s easier said than done to get them. Be aware of how your school makes scholarship offers, as you may need to prepare a separate application to be eligible.

You may also need to submit a different application for each fellowship or scholarship. Don’t lose out because of a missed deadline. Look beyond your business school, too, to organizations like the Forte Foundation or Consortium for Graduate Study in Management that offer highly valuable scholarships for MBA students.

2. Company sponsorship: If you’re one of the lucky few with a sponsorship offer, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you accept. Because sponsorship often comes with an obligation to return to the company after you complete your MBA, take a step back and assess whether you’re absolutely confident you want to return. Breaking such an agreement after your earn the degree can lead to not only strained relationships with former colleagues, but also a mountain of unforeseen debt.

Some lenders such as CommonBond will allow you to take out a loan to pay for an MBA even after you’ve graduated, but it’s always better to be prepared ahead of time. Meanwhile, if you plan to return to your company but don’t have sponsorship, it never hurts to ask about options. See if you’re eligible for any reimbursement given the new skills you’ll bring to the table.

3. Retirement savings: This less obvious pool of money comes with a few extra considerations, first and foremost being that you should always think hard before touching money set aside for retirement. However, those who have saved aggressively already and plan to continue doing so may find it worth it to take some money out for the short term.

You’re exempt from the 10 percent penalty for early withdrawals when you put the funds toward qualified higher education expenses, of which attending business school is one. You’ll still face income tax on this money, but the tax burden will likely be less when you’re in a graduate student tax bracket.

4. Federal loans: The U.S. government offers at least two loan options for each academic year: the Stafford Loan and the Grad PLUS Loan. The Stafford is limited to $20,500 for a year, while the Grad PLUS is available up to your school’s cost of attendance.

You can apply for these loans online via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and the Department of Education is a great resource for information on rates, fees, eligibility and more.

5. Private loans: When you’re looking for the right loan, it pays to shop around and find a lender you trust at an interest rate you like. After all, your MBA is only two years, and you’ll probably be working with your lender for 10 or 15 years.

Private loans can provide customized options to help you save, sometimes at rates even lower than the federal government’s. If you’re looking to augment your other MBA financing, seek a lender with great customer service and ask about what loan options can maximize your savings.

Finally, use an online MBA student loan calculator to organize your costs and see how loans with different interest rates can work in your favor. Your MBA is a great investment, and I hope you can make the best use of the months ahead to make sure you have all the funding you need.

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