Secure Funding for Your MBA

funding for your MBA

If you’re lucky enough to get an offer of admission from a dream B-school, take time to celebrate your accomplishment! Then once that initial elation subsides, it’s time to focus on the less fun yet critical task of sorting out the funding for your MBA degree.  Because besides budgeting for the obvious, like tuition and housing,  you’ll need money for other things, too.

As SBC consultant Erika advises on this episode of the B-Schooled podcast, you’ll also want to take advantage of the unique opportunities that will arise—things like international trips and industry treks. “There are tons of social activities during the two years you’ll spend earning your MBA, and that make it such a great bonding experience with your classmates,” Erika says.

Keeping all that in mind, you may wonder how you can finance your education without getting saddled with enormous debt. With rising tuition costs and limited funds available, it’s critical to become well-informed about all possible funding sources for business schools. In this comprehensive guide, we’re exploring various avenues, such as scholarships and company sponsorships, that can help ease the burden of financing your MBA degree.

You’ll learn how to decode admissions letters for potential financial aid offers and strategies for negotiating extra merit-based funding. We’ll also look at options like grad assistant positions and work-study programs which let learners make money while studying. In addition, we’ll emphasize the importance of completing FAFSA accurately to maximize chances at securing federal loans. Finally, we’ll provide insights on evaluating loan options wisely with a focus on international students’ needs.

Don’t let limited funds hold you back from applying to business school. Through scholarship funding, company sponsorship, and/or loan options, you can afford to attend a top MBA program.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top-ranked B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 


funding for your MBA

MBA Scholarships and Company Sponsorship

Worthy applicants often get scared off of applying to a top school, fearing the expense will be too great to bear. This is one of the most pervasive MBA admissions myths out there. But the good news is there are several options available to help you pay for your MBA.

Also, many top schools will work with applicants to ensure cost is not a barrier to attending. Last year, Harvard Business School announced it would boost needs-based financial support for students. Roughly ten percent of students qualify for full-tuition scholarships, which will cover $76,000 in tuition and course fees for each year of the two-year program.

Scholarship awards for our clients have risen by 10% percent each year over the past few years. About 20-25% of SBC clients receive scholarships ranging between $10,000 to full-ride offers valued at $200,000. Besides scholarships and fellowships offered by the schools, there are several external opportunities available, including merit-based scholarships and fellowships. A few well-known examples include:

Another option to consider as funding for your MBA is company sponsorship. Many employers understand the worth of investing in their personnel’s professional growth. So, they might offer partial or full financial help for those seeking higher education. See if your employer has any programs that cover tuition costs or provide other educational benefits.

Graduate Assistantships and Work-Study Programs Offer Funding for Your MBA

Don’t let limited scholarship opportunities hold you back from pursuing your B-school dreams. Many schools offer assistantships or work-study programs that can help fund your MBA experience.

Common Types of Graduate Assistantship Positions:

  • Teaching Assistant (TA): Help professors with course preparation, grading, and student support.
  • Research Assistant (RA): Conduct research under the guidance of a faculty member, often related to their area of expertise or an ongoing project.
  • Administrative Intern: Support various departments within the university by performing administrative tasks such as event planning or data management.

Ensure you have a successful balance between academic and on-campus work. To achieve this, set clear boundaries around working hours, prioritize time management skills, and communicate with supervisors about workload expectations. Seek academic advisors or career counselors who can provide guidance throughout your MBA journey.

Decoding Your Admissions Letter

When you receive an admissions letter from a business school, read it carefully. It might contain crucial information about financial aid or merit-based awards. “Every round, I get emails from applicants who stop reading their admissions letter the moment they see the great news that they got in,” SBC consultant Erika says.

Look for mentions of merit-based scholarships, MBA fellowships, or other forms of aid in your letter. Different criteria, such as scholastic accomplishment, exam results, and vocation objectives, could decide qualification for certain awards.

“The schools use scholarships to help people who truly need it, but also to entice students to choose their program,” Erika adds. “So if you get an admissions letter and make sure you read it thoroughly.”

If you believe you deserve more scholarship money than offered at first, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions committee. You might be able to negotiate additional funding.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #44: Negotiating Merit Scholarships for targeted tips.

FAFSA – A Key Step in Securing Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a must-do for college and grad school students. It determines your eligibility for federal student loan programs, including grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest loans.

Completing the FAFSA accurately is crucial to maximize your chances of securing financial aid. Errors can lead to delays or even disqualification from certain funding sources. So, carefully examining your form before submission is critical. Gather all necessary documents beforehand, such as tax returns and bank statements. Submit the FAFSA as early as possible since some funds are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

funding for your MBA

Evaluating Loan Options

Don’t jump into accepting loans without considering factors like interest rates, repayment terms, and impact on personal finances during the program. This is especially important for private loans. International students may face unique challenges but can still find suitable financing options.

Comparing Federal and Private Loan Options for MBA Students

Federal Loans: These are more favorable due to lower interest rates and flexible repayment plans. Examples include the Direct Unsubsidized Loan and the Grad PLUS Loan. Learn more about these programs from the Federal Student Aid website.

Private Loans: Offered by banks or other financial institutions, these loans often have higher interest rates and less flexibility in repayment. Be sure to compare multiple lenders before deciding.

Tips for International MBA Students Financing Your MBA

MBA candidates from outside the US can explore various funding sources like scholarships offered by their home country’s government or organizations, as well as external MBA scholarships provided by business schools themselves. Additionally, some private lenders offer specialized loan products tailored to international students’ needs. Research your options thoroughly before committing. For example, the Prodigy Finance platform offers loans to international students without requiring a co-signer or collateral.

You are Worth It

During that episode of B-Schooled, SBC consultant Erika recounted a time that Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett spoke to her class when she was a student at Harvard Business School.  “He was just so down to earth and cool,” she recalls.  “And he said, ‘the more you learn, the more you earn’.”

While all this financial stuff seems overwhelming, remember that an MBA is a long-term investment in yourself, Erika says. It will continue boosting your career potential way after your first job after graduation. “Despite all the loans I took on, and I’m still paying off, I would do it again all over again exactly as I did.”


The process of finding, applying for, and sorting out MBA financial aid opportunities can be tedious and confusing. If you have already received the admit to your dream MBA program and would like help with applying for financial aid as a US or international candidate, we are here to help with SBC’s Financial Aid Advisory service. Please email to learn more. 

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Wharton and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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