Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay for it, even if you are not thinking of applying until a year or two from now. Fortunately, schools want to work with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.
The MBA admissions blog at the Chicago Booth School of Business recently posted a great article with tips from the Financial Aid Office that will help orient potential b-school applicants no matter where they ultimately plan to apply. The first step is knowing what expenses to expect.
Begin by checking out the tuition rate at your target schools online, and take note also of the typical cost of attendance on top of tuition, which includes housing, textbooks, health insurance, living expenses, etc. that all students need to pay for.
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.
Prior to even starting their MBA, many students create a savings goal for how much money they want to set aside by the time school begins. The rationale being that every extra dollar you save now is one you won’t have to borrow.
“Your MBA costs, however, won’t be limited to tuition and the necessities mentioned above,” the article notes, since “Many programs also offer endless travel opportunities – academic, career-related, and purely social.”
In fact, the travel and networking experiences that MBA students have at their fingertips is just one of the many amazing benefits of business school. Whether the motive is a tech trek to Silicon Valley, an finance industry conference in New York, or a trip bonding with peers in Belize, these adventures can make quite a dent in a student’s wallet.
And don’t forget that “You will also likely get involved with several student groups, which generally have fees to join,” the Financial Aid Office adds.
While it can be daunting to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn an MBA, most business school graduates experience a substantial salary increase. The vast majority report having greater job satisfaction and the ability to advance quickly and, therefore, earn more in shorter time.
“Your lifestyle during your time as an MBA student can vary wildly based on your choices and, ultimately, you can control how far your money will take you,” the Booth financial aid team notes. “Be mindful in choosing the right balance for you and plan to be strategic with your spending. “
The article concludes with advice on other funding options for MBA hopefuls, so click over for more information that’s Booth-specific.
If 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.
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.